The downside of pneumonia is neglecting the blog and indeed, most other things. It was a dreadful illness I don’t want to even revisit in memory, so let that be enough of an explanation for the ridiculous amount of time since I last posted.
If I was forced to admit to any ‘upside’ to being ill, apart from entitlement to wear my PJs all day and not bother with anything much, it is that it gave me more time than usual to just ponder on the story of my next novel.
I have had elements of what I think is a potential book-length story floating around for a while. Potentially, I think it may be a good story of the sort I want to tell.
However, I am missing the ‘quest’ of the story. It isn’t an adventure type of story and doesn’t easily fit into the usual tropes of a quest. If I was pushed into a corner, I might say it follows the ‘odyssey’ type story in that there is a beginning and an end, adventures and challenges along the way and a satisfying conclusion. The protagonist is on a journey, though only in the sense that we all are to some extent. I cannot find the key element of the story and I am floundering trying to write my outline.
Thanks to Eileen Pan for the use of the image from Unsplash
As I pondered upon this, I wondered if it meant perhaps that the story should be let go of and I should move on to one of the hundreds of story ideas I have in my notebook instead, but it won’t disappear. It is nagging me to be told.
I guess I hoped the Muse might turn up and provide the answer. Indeed, she provided some. Thanks to the enforced time away from actual writing, I have well-formed characters in my head and some scenes only need transferring from my head to the page. Thinking time certainly helped flesh some of my ideas out, but I am still missing my ‘that’s it!’ key.
However, as Stephen King said in On Writing, we have to ‘go to work’—I understood this to mean show up and hunt the story down. So, rather than waiting for some ephemeral wordy alchemy, and using a pen and notebook rather than a keyboard (weird, yikes), I started to free write and I think I realised that my issue has not been about ‘finding the element’ so much as getting back into productive, creative thinking. The point is, I haven’t been ‘going to work’—I’ve been on a sickie and now I am not. I need to show up, go back to work and hunt that missing element down.