I can’t find the story yet. There are 50,000 words in the computer, but there isn’t a story. This always happens, but because it takes me several years to write a book, I always forget. When I was writing Before Versailles, it was two very rough drafts before I realized the story was Louis XIV’s. It took forever and a day to find what the heartbreak would be for Barbara in Through a Glass Darkly and then build around it. In Dark Angels, I played for months with a romance between Princess Henriette and Monmouth, none of which I used, and thought for awhile I was writing the Louis XIV story I wanted to write….not.

Why do I wander aimlessly for so long? What do you do when you’re lost in the maze? You know this is why writers drink.


10 responses to “maze

  1. I thought I had a story but then hit the maze and have been wandering for quite a while. I probably need to write myself out of it, but I prefer not to. It’s been suggested I begin writing vignettes for something else I’d like to do, totally different from the stalled project, and see what happens. Or anything to stop the whining. My critique partners look as if they might be planning something unsavory for me.

    Thanks for posting. It’s instructive to know a professional who is wandering. Hemingway, Faulkner, Fitzgerald–and Willa Cather. Perhaps she kept a box of chocolate beside her typewriter.

  2. It’s all about staying with it–which you do. I let a play sit for a year because though I could hear the voices–very southern–and no matter how much I wrote and rewrote, I couldn’t get more than 30 pages. Nothing went anywhere. Then I called a writer critique friend and he came over. For 6 hours we brainstormed; he asked questions and I started to “hear” the answers.

    It’s still not where I want it to be but it’s been finished through to the end, and entered in a stage reading competition, then revised again and now out to my reading friends. I still need more tension and something more important at the center. There it is!

  3. It was the wonderful photograph that attracted me, but I can relate to the post. Even when the original idea is there, and the primary characters, I often realize that I don’t yet have a story. Finding it usually comes with getting to know the characters more thoroughly. I’m currently working out a novella in which, originally, not very much happens. Not good. But there’s lot of opportunity, now that I know the characters, to add conflict that’s more than angst. It isn’t a speedy way to work, though. Takes patience, and belief in the story.

  4. I am fascinated by this news. Really? You just write and then try to find a thread to make it a story? Interesting. I figured writers thought of a story and just wrote it. so you just write anything? 50,000 words written indepent of a story? You have such an imagination to be able to do this. Many little stories without a frame….I am so impressed.

  5. Marci Jefferson

    I know this feeling. Knowing you experience it makes it much easier on my soul.

  6. Hunh! That did surprise me to read that. I am wondering how you researched for your book then if you waited so long to realize that it was really about Louis XIV. I am interested in your opinion about the king. I became interested in his life only very recently but I have spent many years and hours learning as much as I can through only the use of public library and bookstores. I am aware that history classes teach students the lifestyles of the monarchs of ages past but my introduction came about through a more unique way. I was drawn to a book at the library through my solar plexus and before long, I was plunged into learning about the Grand Siecle. I did read your book with interest and appreciated your respect for the Sun King. I am just surprised that you had not realized that your book would be about him…

  7. It is why ANY artist drinks!!!!!!!!!!!(Sculptors included)

  8. You speak right too me. I’m wondering around in my own maze and am not as far along as you–only 20,000 and I still don’t even know if I’m writing nonfiction, fiction or memoir. You are wise to say “maze’ rather than ‘labyrinth.’ A labyrinth has only one path out, a maze offers a choice. That’s why I’m so confused. But, thank you, I know I’m in good company. Onward through the maze!

  9. My maze began many years ago and left me drinking for thirty-three years. Sober nine years now and the stories have finally come back to me. Well, I suppose they were there all along, they just depressed me too much to write. Started writing again last October and it’s been the most amazing thing. I suppose you could say I’ve finally found the stories I thought I’d lost.

  10. Great post, I am glad I am not alone. To doreen, most stories I think begin with an idea, a character, a period in history you read about that’s fascinating. You have an idea of what will happen, but a STORY, that’s work. That’s structure. But it has to be there. Karleen, the admirable and important thing is that you stay in the maze, that’s the only way to find a satisfactory way out. I hit the GPS locator button and was airlifted out, i.e. stopped writing. I’m trying again. It’s hard, so much harder than I ever thought it would be. Hats off to you for staying in the maze.

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