Posts Tagged ‘Busting a foofer valve’

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.