According to American humourist Gene Fowler, writing is easy: you just have to stare at a blank page until drops of blood form on your forehead.

[Note to the long-dead Mr Fowler: my forehead has been geysering in a Monty Pythonesque fashion onto my computer screen for days now, but it isn’t getting any easier.]

I tried to blame my two-day-old headache on the decaffeinated beans that I found in my grinder. But then the discovery of Il Perfetto Espresso in a dusty recess of the larder put paid to that theory. After two cups, the head still hurt. And I think I know why.

The word count on the work-in-progress ground to a halt just shy of the 44,000 word count, while I prowled, growled and pawed at my keyboard. Not writing, but paying bills, finishing quarterly accounts and filling in the BAS that’s due Monday. When I flicked back to the WIP, nothing happened. My brain bled like stink, but the words, they just wouldn’t come.

Then Kim Wilkins popped up on facebook – Kim is writing crap, but at least she’s writing – and jealousy spiked through my veins. Wot a skite.

I’d kill to write crap. But I’m literarily constipated – blogstipated, as Belinda Jeffrey would say – and my dear departed dad’s words keep buzzing round inside my skull like blowflies: “Shit, or get off the pot.”

I know, I know. Straining doesn’t help and busting my foofer valve will just add to my woes. But I can’t walk away and do something else. Not with the WIP in crisis.

So I’ve been tinkering with the problem, hunched over my writer’s toolbox, showing my crack.  I think I’ve located the blockage. A couple of main characters that need the screws tightened, that need to be pushed harder and further, to force them to drop the mask and reveal their true natures.

Writers know that true character only comes out under pressure; the greater the pressure, the greater the revelation. If you want to find out if a character has iron in her filings, hit her hard as you can, right in the heart. Force her to act because it is her choices under pressure that will define her.

I’ve been going too easy on her, I can see that now.  I’ve let my sympathy for what’s she’s been through cloud my judgement. It’s time to hitch up the duds and wipe the blood from my brow.

It’ll take a big wrench to fix it, but that’s OK. I’ve got one in my writer’s toolbox.

  1. belindajeffrey says:

    Hey Chris – love your blog today. Apart from me cheering for you, I just love the way you write. If you need to sharpen your wrench over coffee, let me know.

  2. Yeah, go get ’em, Chris! I know exactly how you feel.
    And I’m intrigued by your term ‘foofer valve’.
    Must be an outback and far north Qld thing. My grandmother in Innisfail used to call it the ‘foofoo valve’. More than a coincidence??
    She used to warn us kids not to eat the string on bananas because it might get caught in our foofoo valves. To this day I have the compulsion to pull the strings off.

  3. chrisbongers says:

    Nana Bet taught us foofer valve and she was from Bowral, so the term has currency over a wide sweep of the land. 🙂

  4. hexebart says:

    Shite! There’s a BAS due Monday?!?!?!

    Quit sitting at the computer. When you can’t write, work it out on paper, preferably somewhere noisy with healthy supplies of coffee/wine/food.

  5. chrisbongers says:

    Wise counsel, as always. I used a pencil yesterday and coffee. 10am was just too early for wine.

  6. Karen Tyrrell says:

    Fantastic piece of writing there. Well done!

    I love how you write about the everyday woes of writers and make them so damn original!

  7. Karen Tyrrell says:

    Had to have a second read of your inspiring Blog.

    Thanx for the Heads Up about challenging/ pressuring the main characters. to squeeze out more scenarios. More conflict.

    My crime m/s, Sayonara has been lounging round the 61,000 word count for some time. You’ve given me direction.

    What’s the word count range for a Crime Novel anyway?

  8. chrisbongers says:

    Check out the next blog Karen and all will be revealed! 🙂

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