September 29th, 2010

The Write Window

Ruts in the writing life happen. We grasp our way through a story, do the research, and realize it’s not the one we’re supposed to tell. At least not yet. We bump along in that rut for awhile until a new path appears, scattered with red and orange leaves, shining glass-like in the sunshine. If we’re really lucky, we figure this out before page ten, which was the case with my recent novel. The only problem was, I didn’t have another start from scratch story.

Or so I thought.

It does a writer good to peer through a new window. Visit places we’ve never been. Meet people we’ve never met. If we can’t do that, we can always explore areas in our own neck of the woods that we’ve neglected. Anything to show us the mysterious, quirky and fresh side of life.

On a recent trip to Vermont, a place I’d never visited, a shiny new story snuck in. I was sitting on the steps of our cabin at sunset, wind bristling in trees, leaves like candy wrappers, colliding with each other, swirling, twirling, and dancing, air fragrant with roots and conifers. Straight ahead an abandoned dirt road, a rusted model T Ford off to one side. To my right a red barn, skirted next to an 1800’s colonial farmhouse. Just as I looked, a woman’s black silhouette appeared and paused in the window. I could feel something beginning. It slid through the wind and landed, smiling on my lap.

Sometimes a clear moment is all it takes: a sunny day flecked with the unusual, or dusk in Vermont. The writer in us is always drawn to what’s behind the mountain and down the lonely dirt road. We excavate stones from these places and arrange them in a circle. These stones represent life: the sensual, brutal, wonder, abandonment, love, honor, awe, failure, and death of our existence. We arrange stones we collect along the way into stories that help us make sense of our world. Sometimes we, as much as our readers, just need to be entertained. And there’s the rub-a good novel can and does do both.

I fancy this ancient Chinese proverb: A bird does not sing because it has an answer-it sings because it has a song.

Look through a new window dear writer and your song will find you.


8 Responses to “The Write Window”

  1. Elizabeth Says:

    What a beautiful post Draine. I’ve missed your writing. I come by every few days to check out if you’ve been posting. I always think, she’s working on a great story, and she’ll be back when she can. I’m glad to read that you are indeed stewing over your next great dish. And I will love reading it when its done.

    “Just as I looked, a woman’s black silhouette appeared and paused in the window. I could feel something beginning. It slid through the wind and landed, smiling on my lap.”
    Poetic prose, and beautifully written.

  2. Deanna Schrayer Says:

    Oh Drain, this is such a beautiful, deeply emotional post. I want to cry because it sounds like The Passion Diaries may be on hold? But I can’t help but rejoice in the next story you’ve discovered.

    What a wonderful trip you had! I’m so happy for you, that you found a bright, silver lining in what may have otherwise been a disappointment. But then, that’s who you are; you can’t help it.

    So glad to hear from you! Thanks for a lovely post!

  3. dorraine Says:

    Hi E! You always know how to make me smile. :-) Thanks for your kindness. I’ve missed you also.

    I’ve been without my sweet little laptop for two weeks now, so I’ve been working from my ancient, very slow and creaky computer. It’s frustrating and I’m hoping they can fix the other one. If not, I’ll have to buy a new one. So, still kicking it, just a little slower.

  4. dorraine Says:

    Hi Deanna! Okay, another smile! Great to hear from you, too. I’ve missed you also. You girls are the best.

    Well, the good news is, the Passion Diary is good to go. I’ve been sending queries out for that one. I had started a new book, set in southern Louisiana, a paranormal series, actually. But, I just don’t think it’s the right story for me. Maybe one day. I’m glad another one came, and it will be set in Vermont. Needless to say, I relished that trip. :-)

  5. Deanna Schrayer Says:

    I think that’s at least the second time I’ve said “Diaries” instead of “Diary”. Hopefully by the time it’s in my hands I’ll have it right. And that can’t be soon enough!

    I remember talk of the paranormal story in Louisiana, but for some reason had it in my head that was the setting for The Passion Diary, not sure why. In any case, I’m just glad to hear you’re well on your way to the next one.

    Much luck and love to you!

  6. dorraine Says:

    Thanks for the luck and love!

  7. Paige Says:

    I love moments like that…when that image or turn of a phrase stirs the roots and convinces them to twine into something more

  8. dorraine Says:

    Lovely sentence, Paige! When you put it like that, it does sound magical. :-)

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Eleven-year-old Marnie Evans longs to be precious. She wishes on stars for parents who adore her, even though her family is dysfunctional. She also believes that jack rabbits and a boot-wearing Texas angel show her mysterious signs of things to come. Continue Reading


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