If I just gave you an earworm, I apologize and you’re welcome – Ringo Starr’s “It Don’t Come Easy” is a good song. And although it’s grammatically incorrect, the title is one hundred percent dead-on accurate in its spirit. If you’re talking about art of any kind, it “don’t” always come easy.
Sometimes when I get ideas for stories, whether those are short stories, novellas, book ideas, characters, etc., they come to me fully formed. It’s just bam! In my head and ready to go. Firefly Hollow kind of happened like that. I had a dream one night about a young woman who goes walking in the woods near her home, and she happens across someone swimming in a natural pool of water. Fully expecting to see a human, she’s stunned when she looks down over the big rock to see a mountain lion that turns into a man.
That was pretty well the extent of the dream. I turned it into a 1,500 or so word summary, saved it, and put it away. But it lingered in my subconscious, and then one night I sat in bed while we watched TV and wrote the outline for the entire book. The next day, I started writing, and twenty-one days later, give or take a couple of days, the first draft was finished.
I then spent the next ten days drooling on the couch, completely brain-fried. That’s a looonngg book, y’all. My keyboard was practically smoking by the time I was done.
Then there are the stories that kind of come to me, but they make me work for it. The characters don’t follow the plan I have laid out for them or circumstances and dynamics within the story change or what have you. That’s a different level of frustration. I’m still making headway, but it’s fits and starts.
Where I’m at right now is kind of similar to how I feel after visiting the optometrist and have had my eyes dilated. I can get the big picture, even see some of the larger details, but the fine points? Yeah, they’re a blur. It doesn’t matter what I do to try to focus, it ain’t happening until those drops wear off. So on this new series, I’m getting a lot of the big picture and the larger details down. I’m super excited about what I’ve seen so far. But I’m waiting for one or two pieces of the puzzle to appear, and that’s frustrating. I’m not a patient person. However, I know that when they do, the whole story will snap into focus and it will be game on.
It can be a problem if it goes on too long. It tells me I’m not looking at the story from the right angle, that I’m trying to force the plot to fit my own preconceptions. That I’m not trusting my subconscious to do its job in creating the tale. There are a couple of ways I can combat that. I can continue doing research. I’ll either find something that steers me in the right direction, or I’ll get continuous confirmation that I’m going down the right path.
Or I can walk away and work on something else while I’m waiting for the ideas to percolate. Usually, something will start tugging on me with a strong pull if that’s the direction I need to go.
I’m not feeling that now with this project. I’m getting the urge to hunker down and dig in deeper, not step away. I need to keep looking, and if I do, I’ll be rewarded with the “Eureka!” moment.
So Ringo knows what he’s talking about, at least when it comes to the easiness (and lack thereof) in creating. Let’s just hope I don’t have to start singing the Blues in order to get the stories to percolate clearly. I don’t think that’s going to be the case.