Seven Steps on the Writer’s Path: Step 6 – Immersion

Ultra condensed version thus far: You’re unhappy because you are at loose ends, you figure out that you want to write and what you want to write, you decide you’re going to do it, but the scope of the task ahead makes you reconsider, you take a deep breath and finally take the plunge into – Immersion.

This is the step all writers live for.  Where you’re so wrapped up in your story you hardly notice that six hour have passed.  I’ve been here before, but not lately.  Before I started reading this book I felt I was losing my mojo.  The crushing blow came when I was rewriting Kitten Club and finding my second draft, which should have been good, to be poor.

Finishing that edit has been a bit of a slog, because even when I was making good positive changes (some even brilliant, in my opinion) that strengthened the book as a whole, there was always this nagging feeling of “it still sucks.”  But at the very least the previous steps have taught me that maybe it doesn’t.  I’ll need an outside view to tell me more.  Hopefully I can find a guinea pig willing to read Last Dance at the Kitten Club and find out.

Last night, however, I had a bit of that old magic feeling.  I’ve been brainstorming with my brother on a project he wants to do, an adventure story.  I couldn’t get to sleep because certain things were fitting in my head and I was afraid I’d forget them by morning.  So I got up and pounded out a rough outline for him.  When I got back to bed it was around 5 in the morning.  What I had written was far from perfect, but I was able to get it out, and I think some things really clicked.

I didn’t get up until 11, but when I did I felt pretty good.  It was probably what I needed to shake me loose and get back to the Kitten Club edit.

This chapter also reminded me how important it is for writers to have other writers in their lives.  No matter how supportive your spouse might be, if she’s not a writer he or she’s just not going to get what you’re going through.  So I’m grateful for the writers and editors in my life who, if I moan about certain problems I’m having will have that nod of “been there, done that” on standby.

A problem in the immersion portion is that it’s constantly tested.  There are always guardians blocking your path such as self doubt or obligations, which test your resolve and prove yourself worthy.  Then there are sirens out there trying to lure you away with nice distractions like Xbox or movies.  It can certainly make things trying when I’m trying to work and Gillian is watching a movie ten feet away that I end up getting interested in second-hand.  Or she plays a video game and gets stuck on something for half an hour, doing the same thing over and over and over again, driving me mad, until I just rush over, snatch the controller away and solve the problem in under a minute.

(she’s so going to kill me when she reads that)

Where was I?  Oh yeah, immersion.  It’s great when you can get it, but the problem is it’s very easy to get derailed from, too.  It’s fragile, but if you get in deep enough, well, your house could burn down and you wouldn’t really notice until the smoke alarm went off.  And then there’s a 50/50 chance you’d just unplug the battery and get back to work.

There is more to be said on this chapter, and it’s not as self-helpy as some of the others, but it is more anecdotal.  Still, definitely a good motivator, and it came at just the right time for me, when I was finishing the paper edit of Kitten Club and starting the computer edit.

Next up, our seventh and final step – Fulfillment.