I need to marinate this scene a little more before I can write it. Plus it’s the end of the day and I’m getting punch-drunk, I think.

A lot of writing became easier after I made the decision to turn things over to what I call “the subconscious engines” when a certain type of resistance crops up.

So much of the work of writing goes on below the floorboards of the conscious mind. I toss enough food through the cellar trapdoor, and after a while something down there hurls up the next line/scene.

Writing, like any art, is a paradox of absolute control (you’re in charge of your characters) and mastery (of your craft) versus complete submission (to the process and where the story wants to go).

The balancing act of steering a story in movement is sort of like bicycle riding—constant, ongoing, multiple adjustments, tiny and large, the entire time.

No matter what else I’m doing—running, chores, errands, anything—the story is still cooking under those floorboards. Work is still going on even when I look somnolent.

This is at once cool (because there’s always something happening in my head) and terrifying (because I CANNOT shut it off).

All things serve the work.

I used to think I was cut off from actual living because the reflex in my head is constantly making stories or taking notes for stories.

Now I think it just makes me human.

We are creatures of meaning. We’re hungry for it, we seek it everywhere. It’s kind of a blessing to be so close to the engine, seeing it whirl and spark up close.

But only kind of.


YMMV, of course… but if you’re having trouble with a story or a scene, you might want to consider that maybe the engines below the floorboards haven’t finished with it yet.

Learning to make the *conscious decision* to let something sit in your sub-brain for a little while, to cook a little bit more, to let the vast buried iceberg part of you work in its massive silence…

…ay, there’s the rub.

The balance of poking the story-bear out of its cave or letting it doze on its mound of meat and snapped bone is a difficult one, and ever-changing.

And now, having mutilated several metaphors to messily attempt communication of a complex process, I shall take myself to bed with a book.

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