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Cathy: Writer’s Block in the extreme

How do I get from this:


To a complete final chapter?

This page has been staring me in the face for weeks now from the left side of my desk. Behind this page in my mind’s eye, I can see the movie version playing with all the characters I have introduced and their reactions to Felix as he begins his presentation.

I see the principal giving a very-pleased-to-have-this-young-man-in-our-midst introduction. I see his parents settling into the folding chairs proud as parents can be, I see row upon row of classes increasing in grade level to the back of the room, his friends toward the back, his sisters in the front row. I see his difficult sister coming around, and his shy sister, finally without her thumb in her mouth watching him with a grin from ear to ear. I see the school nurse/confidante and the gym teacher who broke up the fight cheering him on with thumbs up on the side lines. I hear Felix’s thoughts as he surveys the room before he begins to speak, moving from nervous exhilaration to knowing he’s had a lot of support all along, if he’d only recognized it, and now that he does, he knows he can do this presentation better than anyone. His solitary nerves disappear and by virtue of his feelings of support from so many he loves and who love him, he realizes anything is possible.

Really, this of all the chapters should be the easiest to write. All the difficulties he’s gone through are over, the good things are securely in place. So how is it I can’t write the words to put him on stage, in front of the audience for the chapter to occur and wrap up this book?

Everything I’ve said above and more I’ve been saying to myself for a very long time. I’ve been saying them through writing much of the rest of the book, through his trials and tribulations, I have had this scene in mind since the first page was written in 2004, maybe even 2003. All I know is the class I was working in at the time and that it was that class that inspired this idea. Sixth graders, gotta love them. Wow, must be graduating high school now. And I’m still hung up in this book!

Please, does anyone know how to put his feet on the steps up to the stage to start this ending? I’m killing myself here between knowing what I want to write, the lack of uninterrupted time and sleep that affect the work, and the sheer actual words that will put him on stage. The movie in my head seems to have come out before the advent talkies.

Thank you for allowing me to indulge in my inner dialogue. I figured if I wrote it down and put it ‘out there’ I might make actual progress — maybe tomorrow.

12 Comments Post a comment
  1. Cathy — I’m not sure I understand your sticking point here. Is there a reason why the chapter can’t start with Felix on the stage, perhaps just a moment before “Felix looks out over the school crowd….” as he surveys the audience? Is there some other plot point that needs to be established before that?

    May 28, 2009
  2. i’m not sure what the sticking point is either, to be honest. i’ve been staring at the screen and notebook for weeks and just going blank. filmicly it’s all there in my head, but the words just aren’t. can’t explain it for the life of me, except that sometimes this divide between mind and paper happens with me.

    this is a case of ‘in it’s own time’ as i’ve mentioned in the past. well, i am feeling it coming on with some outside input today for tomorrow. i may just force my way through it in the morning and see what comes of it.

    thanks, m! always supportive!

    May 28, 2009
  3. You have the scene all worked out, but if you don’t feel like writing it from the beginning, maybe skip to a part that you DO want to write right now. Maybe jump to the last two pages of the book — or the last two paragraphs!

    May 28, 2009
  4. Kristine #

    I think I understand what the problem is for you. For me, if there’s a BIG scene that I’ve built up in my mind, when I go to actually write the scene, my mind freezes. The scenes that I’ve brainstormed the most are usually the most difficult to actually write because I got lost in my notes and plans.

    Too much expectation for the scene. Is that the case?

    What I try to do is just write through it. Even if all you can churn out is crap. You can always mold it later if it doesn’t turn out the way you envisioned. Write your way through it. It’s the best way out of a block.

    BTW…your notebook page looks just like some of my note pages! 🙂

    Good luck!

    May 28, 2009
  5. thanks, both! kristine, you may have something there. i will write through it tomorrow. that’s the plan anyway, but plans change fast around here. 😉

    May 28, 2009
  6. oh, wanted to mention re: notebook page: i had to crop out animal control’s number in the scan…it was the nearest paper to the phone when lucy made her biggest escape out of my subdivision onto the main route behind my house.

    the bleed through page is pre-notes to the interview i conducted a couple of weeks ago and still need to write…

    May 28, 2009
  7. When I have trouble writing a scene, I start with the dialogue first and have the characters say what they need to say and then I surround the dialogue with the appropriate exposition. And then I surround some more…and some more… until I get my own tv-version-in-my-head on the page.

    May 29, 2009
  8. good tip from the playwright among us, brit! i think i got it. i just need the girl to napand mil to go ot her appt….

    today is the day!

    May 29, 2009
  9. filmicly. is that a new word? 😉

    having never attempted what you are attempting, not much i can offer here cath, but it sound like you got some great advice. good luck! or should i say “break a leg!”.

    May 29, 2009
  10. ha! probably, i do that a lot, something feels right even if it’s not a word, i use it. english language in development – think ee cummings: mudlucious.

    thanks, kelly. working on it now, excitedly rather than stuck.

    May 29, 2009
  11. Hey, they say that (American) English is the most versatile/flexible of all the languages. Nowhere else can you use a noun as a verb or as an adjective and vice versa. 🙂

    Good luck Cathy. It’ll come together for you soon! Sometimes you just have to let it stew a while.

    May 30, 2009
  12. thanks, brittany!

    by the way, for those who didn’t see it on fb yesterday, i finished!

    see latest post on!

    tahnks, all, i couldn’t have done it without you.

    May 30, 2009

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