About three weeks ago, my editor called me. We were in the middle of copy edits for SUSPECT. Usually, this is a matter of tweaking sentences and fixing mistakes. A few continuity issues will pop up here and there. But this was something much bigger. The copy editor couldn’t buy into what was going on between two of the characters. And her concern reinforced my editor’s feelings about the same situation. Something clearly had to be done before the manuscript went to galleys. Hence the call. My editor and I went back and forth for about twenty minutes. She made polite suggestions. I politely shot them down for one reason or another. At one point I said, “I know. I have to mow the lawn. Maybe I can come up with something.”
Mowing had worked for me before. In fact, the first three chapters of my proposed sequel to SAVING THE GRIFFIN came to me when I was mowing our back hill.
In the end, I didn’t have to mow. (Or at least not to solve my plotting issues.) After the phone call, I sat down to read over the first section that concerned the Peachtree editors. Within about ten seconds, I knew what I could do. But I probably wouldn’t have if we hadn’t hashed things out.
Yesterday, I had to mow the lawn again. (Ah, the glamorous life of a writer.) I found myself meditating on what my agent and I have been calling “the Italian chase novel.” It’s something that was simmering on the back burner until my agent asked me if I’d thought about trying another YA. At first I said no. But then, I remembered the basic scenario and described it to her. To my surprise, I heard her telling me that it sounded like a great idea. But I basically only had the premise. I wasn’t worried since I knew the revisions to Calyn’s story would keep me busy until this fall.
I had finished the front yard and moved down to the back road when things started clicking. I had a number of reasons why my main character would have something that someone else wanted. But then I suddenly realized where and why my character would seize the initiative. Scenes popped into place as did the rather odd quirks of the obligatory romantic interest.
I may not have a cure for writer’s block, but I do know of an activity where inspiration can sometimes flow like a mountain stream after a thunderstorm. Forcing it doesn’t work. But things often click when I try to make straight lines across my lawn with my mower.