By Colleen Oakes
It happened last night, in the middle of a long day of writing, editing and brain-storming. My writing buddy and I had hunkered down for a five hour session of hammering out the problems in our respective novels. Seriously, it's such a perfect working relationship that it's a little scary. This is how we do it: first, the good - then, the bad, which takes about five times longer than the good. Peter's voice needs work. Damien needs feelings. Comments range from "I LITERALLY hate your mountain range" to "I don't like or respect sexy aliens" Back and forth and back and forth it went.
At the end of our session, I was struggling with the ending of my current novel. It's a very complicated climax, with a lot of specific plot devices that have to happen just at the right time, in the right order and getting that order just right is terribly tripping me up at the moment. I'm nowhere near the end, but I need to have my ducks in a row to proceed from this point on. I've arrived at a place in the story where I need to know origin stories - and the endgame.
So, we were at Udi's eating delicious pizza and humus when it happened. At that point we had spent about 5 hours dissecting and editing and I was running over the plot for my novel out loud, in my head, and chasing down every thread that occurred. To me sometimes, the best way to figure out where a story is going is just to push it down every possible dark alleyway and see what comes out. I was missing something from the climax. I knew that something KEY was missing. So we were running over scenarios, one by one and then I had it. A sliver of an idea. A tiny sliver, a slip of a thing, a whisper of something big.
We discussed it. Then, our voices rose, and started overlapping. We followed the string into the dark alley and kept following it. We started getting excited and then, we were yelling and high fiving and I'm pretty sure the table behind us thought we were totally drunk seeing how we were talking magic and pirates and musical instruments.
It was a moment, just a moment of pure creation.
Afterwards, even on the drive home as I recapped it minute by minute to my VERY lucky husband, I was still buzzing, my skin feeling like it was on fire, my brain alive and awake and flooded with adrenaline. When you write with that kind of inspirational heat that is as rare as an eclipse, the story flows out of you like water, the best kind of drowning.
Sometimes people ask me why I write. Most of the time, it's because I like sipping on a hot beverage and simultaneously trying not to bang my head against a keyboard. But when it's magic like this, it's a job that is so much more than a job. It's creating a living and breathing thing that can surprise, delight and frustrate you. Honestly, it's a lot like parenting.
And when that inspirational lightning strikes, and your story falls into place like an elaborate puzzle, it's one of the best moments that a writer can have.
It might only happen once or twice a book, but when it does, it's pure, unfiltered ecstasy.