My right side of the brain has no idea what the left side is doing...

Last night, finally a small breakthrough. After getting 170 pages into my new novel and having stalled at the excruciatingly painful middle, for months, eeking out a page at a time, I finally saw some light on the pathway to the end that I have written. After much hair pulling, random note taking and mapping, I decided to TALK it out with my husband. Jeff often reads my work part way through and he is a master of plot and structure, but more importantly he possesses this amazing gift for summarizing things. Now this gift can alternately make me crazy and envious in my regular life, but in my writing life it is a wonder!

Last night I decided, instead of giving Jeff what I had written so far, I would tell him the story, and see if it made any sense. I told him what I had, what I knew, what I didn't know yet, but sensed and where it all took me. At the end of my rambling, he said, "So what's the problem? It sounds like you have it all there..." ??? What?! Was he crazy?! No, he was right, I knew that, and it wasn't the first time I have heard it, my mentor had told me the same thing, but there were big holes and I didn't know how to fill them and I really didn't know what had happened with one of my characters, and so we talked some more. And in talking I was able to really see the gaps, in my story, the threads that could go somewhere but didn't yet and most importantly, I hadn't found a way in. It's like I had all these colors swirling around, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple...and then Jeff would go...rainbow. Yes! Rainbow. Sometimes we are staring so hard at the details of something that we miss the whole of what we have created, the obvious, the through lines that connect all the parts to make a whole, and it takes outside eyes or ears to help show us.

One of the things that Jeff and I talked about afterward while eating the meal that I had compulsively cooked while talking, was the difference between the right side and the left side of the brain. There is a strong theory and a great book called "Drawing On The Right Side of The Brain", that basically refers to the right side as the creative side and the left side as the analytical side and that the mere act of putting pen in hand or fingers on keyboard removes us one step away from that creative right sided source as we can not help but filter and censor and analyze what it is we are writing, rather than just telling the story. This doesn't happen when we are speaking, well not as much, and that is why talking it out was so helpful. For me it is similar to, to what Robert Olen Butler refers to in his book on writing fiction, "From Where You Dream", the dream state; that place where you are just living and breathing the story and the characters and then writing them.

Now I think I have an idea of where I might be going. I have put all my mapping notes on cue cards and cleared the erase board so that I can draw where I am going next. I am both relieved and full of anxiety, as I now KNOW just how much work I have to do. But it sure beats not knowing.


Grand Pooba said...

go Gina, go Gina....whoooo

tiffany kimball said...

what a glorious breakthrough, an interesting revelation about the pen interfering with right brain creativity and a spectacular hubby!!!! hip hip hooray for you g!

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