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Writing epiphanies (helped by apple muffins)
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I've been stuck on Kat by Starlight for the past few weeks. I finished Chapter 11 very happily, I knew exactly what was supposed to happen in Chapter Twelve (because it was one of the first ideas I'd had when I originally thought of the novel)...but I couldn't write it. Every time I tried to, I was filled with a poisonous mixture of lassitude and dread. I could not figure out how to make it work, or what was wrong with me, that I couldn't do it.

So, today I took drastic measures. Patrick and I drove out to Borders, and for once, I didn't allow myself to pick up a single book or magazine. I got a big, juicy apple muffin and a cup of tea. We sat down at a big café table. Patrick set up his laptop. I took out the printed folder of KbS-so-far, opened up my Moleskine notebook, uncapped my fountain pen and spread out an assortment of postcards across my half of the table for a period feel. (All the postcards came from various Georgian house-museums I've visited - I think I had one Georgian drawing room postcard, one breakfast room, and one kitchen laid out in front of me.) I gazed at the postcards, hoping for inspiration. I read back through all the plot notes I've made so far in the Moleskine, all the spots where I've reminded myself of (or discovered) themes, upcoming plot points, and character arcs. I sighed. I thought about going off to find a book. I picked up my fountain pen instead and started making desperate notes, like: How can I make Chapter Twelve work?

And it finally hit me: I couldn't. Ever since I started this book, I've known that Kat would be running into a group of mad astronomers in this chapter. What a great concept! I loved it! Mad astronomers! What could be more fun? I've been looking up Georgian astronomy pages, planning a trip to the Bath museum of historical astronomy...and yet. Horribly, sadly, now that I've actually come to that point in the novel, the awful truth is: they don't fit. Mad astronomers are awesome, but I haven't built up to them in the first half of this novel. And as soon as I realized that and began to wonder: what have I built up to? what would fit? - all those horrible feelings of lassitude and dread just dropped away, like fog clearing, and I started scribbling notes as quickly as my hand would move.

One of the hardest and most rewarding parts of writing, for me, is having those moments of breakthrough where I realize that the thing I've been planning all along is all wrong for the book that is actually being written...but the solution that's already waiting in the draft itself is so much better, stronger, and more fun than anything I could have planned out ahead of time. I took pages and pages of notes today, sometimes giggling out loud at the unexpected ideas popping into place, and then I started Chapter Twelve, and it was fun. I wasn't trying to force myself toward a preordained conclusion anymore, I was letting the plot go where it wanted, and that felt great.

I'm so much happier now. And I'm trying to stay open to whatever wants to come out in the book next.

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