Time can be your enemy... or your friend.
Happy Friday, lovely minions!
Today’s another blog hop day for the Life List Club. Which means we hop from place to place to support everyone in their goal-setting and muffin-eating… or is that just me?
I have the pleasure of hosting Sonia G. Medeiros, who’s a fellow fantasy writer and #myWANA dweller. Today she talks about brewing ideas and since there are a lot of food references, I’d suggest you have lunch first and read second.
My own post on Sharing Goals is over at Pam Hawley’s blog. Check it out after!
Beer. Wine. Kimchi. Yogurt. Kefir. And bread, especially sourdough. Lovely, tasty things and none of them can be whipped up at a moment's noticed or zapped in the microwave.
All of these culinary delights must be left alone so tiny bacteria and/or yeasts can work their magic. And they need just the right amount of time. Too much time and that yogurt might be way to sour. Not enough time and the bread bakes up with a less than spectacular rise. The trick is knowing just how long to let them brew.
(Honey Wine by spinnerin)
The same can be said for the writing process. At some point, each work needs a brewing phase. Time for the first ideas to collide with other ideas and breed new ones. Time for the bubbles of possibility to begin rising to the surface. Time for all the ingredients to join into something intoxicating.
Sometimes this happens before the words hit the page and sometimes it happens later on, requiring a piece of work be put aside for a time. And sometimes there might even be more than one brewing phase needed.
Last year, when I returned to writing after a 15 year break, I began a novel. The idea had rolled around my brain for a couple of years. I could picture the main character and a few key scenes. I started writing, confident that I would whiz straight through to the end.
I finished that first draft and promptly realized that my story needed something else. But...what? A new ending perhaps. And so I wrote the story again, reaching for that new ending. But...I got stuck in the middle of the middle. I knew what I wanted for the ending but I didn't know how to get there.
I put the novel aside, thinking it would just take a little while for my subconscious to work out the details. But, as the days stretched into weeks and months, I began to freak. I had committed so much to this story. I was sure it had the strength to be a novel. But I didn't know how to make it all come together. And every day I wasn't writing felt wasted.
As my MIP sat gathering dust, I branched out into other writing-related activities. I started blogging and found an amazing community of talented and supportive writers. I discovered flash fiction. I learned about various writing techniques and styles. I, a natural-born pantser, even began to see the appeal of plotting.
And I came to realize that all that time I spent not-writing was, in fact, brewing better things for my writing. I was learning the things I needed to know to finish my current novel and, hopefully, to write future novels with far greater ease (or at least condense the pain into a much shorter time period).
At first glance, it might seem like an excuse for laziness. But the difference between dropping the ball and allowing a project some brewing time is in the active search for knowledge. It's been said that "we don't know what we don't know." So we have to search. Widely but not blindly. We have open ourselves to any crumb of knowledge than can further us along our path.
I'm still working on that novel but I know how to get to the end now. I'm making a thorough outline using Larry Brooks' Story Engineering as a guide. The story milestones outlined in Brooks' book were exactly what I needed to know to bridge the gap in my MIP. And I might not have discovered it if I hadn't allowed myself the brewing time.
So not every path is a neat progression from point A to B to C, etc. Sometimes we must stop where we are and look around. Smell the roses and stuff like that. And sometimes we need to take a few side trips, maybe a few wrong turns. Everything we learn along the way will carry us further than before. Plus, the scenic route's a lot more fun.
(Stone IPA by mfajardo)
Have you noticed a need for a brewing phase in your own work (writing or otherwise)? What's your favorite fermented food/beverage?
Sonia G Medeiros is a writer of fantasy, science fiction, and horror. She's the author of more than a dozen short stories and flash fiction pieces, blogs at WordPress, and is working on her first novel, a dark fantasy. When she's not wandering along the tangled paths of her wild imagination, she wrangles home life with one fabulous husband, two amazing, homeschooled children, three dogs, one frog and two cats who battle for world domination.