The Elixir of Life   2 comments

Desk Stuff

Wow.  I can’t believe it’s been two weeks since I’ve actually written anything.  Just goes to show you how quickly time flies when you aren’t paying any attention to it…and maybe should.

Truth is, I’ve been doing a lot of writing on my second novel and I got stuck in a loop – bad one.  Knew what I wanted to write, but somehow, the words just refused to form.  I have a wide screen display hooked up to my laptop.  On the left is the outline and on the right is the actual first draft.  The whole idea about leaving the outline up on the screen is to refer to it.  And boy, did I ever.  And still, nothing refused to come.  Inspiration took a vacation, leaving me with no indication of blossoming imagination leading to elation.

Okay, I’ll knock off the rhymes.  See?  It’s wasting time, but fun.  How many words can you come up with that flow well with “inspiration,” eh?


I wondered what could I possibly be missing?  Over and over I read my outline and it seemed great.  Nice plot development, character growth, trail of crumbs leading on the reader, no saggy middle, a great ending and bridge to the third novel in the four-novel series.  And yet, my brain stuck like an ancient bug in amber.

So I did what any self-respecting writer would do: eat chocolate.  That took about 30 seconds.  Then I straightened up my desk.  Two, three minutes.  Got a cup of tea, pet the cat, spoke to several members of my household, went through my email, stared out the window.  Still no good.  Brain…dead.

All right, all right, I said to myself, what’s the problem.  Part of it is, I’m a research whore.  I can’t stop myself.  If I need to find out how pins are made, often I’ll go back as far as the mine where the ore was extracted to create said pin.  Will it help the plot to dig so deeply into whatever I need?  Probably not, but one can never be too sure.  I have a comprehensive notebook filled with details of all sorts.  There’s a manila file chock-filled with info printed out.  Articles saved on line.  Sites bookmarked.  All this so I make sure my characters speak with authority, even if they’re in the future and all this research will be ancient history.

Trouble is, none of this helped me stick a few sentences together and I was no further along in my writing.


Usually my husband’s good to bounce around ideas.  We had a very good, very long chat about plot devices that might work.  Lots of them had real potential.  Hammering them out in my head, they all sounded better than great.  But then, facing that blank screen?


“You know what,” my sister Gwen said, “what you mentioned, the plot devices that you and Andrew came up with, that is, are good.  Really are.  But they’re separate pieces.  You need that simple elixir that’s going to drag the whole plot along.”  Thing is, I thought I had that aspect hammered and nailed down tight.  In a way, I did, but not fleshed out enough to make the whole series sing.

And then the helpful hint came that changed everything: Dorothy.



You know, as in “The Wizard of Oz.”

What was that one thing Dorothy wanted most of all, so much that she was willing to drag a cast of weirdos, witches, a wayward wizard  and commit murder twice?

She wanted to go home.


That’s it.  That simple.

Apply one good think to my lead character and…ah HA! Out it came, the shining star, the exploding microwave…my elixir.

And what a breakthrough!  Suddenly, my mind won’t shut off.  The words pour out of my fingers as they glide across the keyboard.  All I do now, it seems, is come up with exactly what I want to say and get it out.  No more stuck, no dead imagination, I’m going all guns blazing and seem to be making up for lost time.

Now, please excuse me while I get back to writing…

2 responses to “The Elixir of Life

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  1. Amazing where inspiration can come from. For me, it’s usually in front of the ironing board! Characters come up to me, tell me their story, and I then have to write it and leave the ironing for another day.

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