My husband—that’s him, the cute one on the right—is a music guy. He writes some and sings a lot.
But sometimes nothing sounds good to him. There are no songs he wants to sing, no chords trying to find their way out of his fingers—the music just isn’t there. On days like this, he picks up the guitar and puts it down. He plays but doesn’t really enjoy it. His mood is often...moody.
And so he waits.
Then one day it will be back. He’ll be asking me to print out lyrics or buy sheet music from an online retailer. When he learns the song, it will sound wonderful to me on the third time through, but he will not be satisfied even on the 103rd. He’ll be enthralled by the learning, though, by whatever it is that makes the connection between a musician’s fingers, ears, and heart.
It’s the same way with writing, isn’t it? Sometimes the words are just gathered up in a big pile in the corner and won’t come out. When you go looking for goal, motivation, or conflict (oh, yes, conflict—does anyone have some I can use?) they’re among the missing—probably buried in the corner under the pile of words. Even when you write your pages because...well, because you have to if you’re contracted, hoping to be contracted, or a disciplined indie writer—even then the music isn’t there (see above metaphor).
However, when Duane isn’t “feeling it,” I still hear the music in what he plays. His voice is mellow, the chords he plays complicated and exciting to an ear that can do nothing more musical than listen.
Oh. Yes. There it is.
I forget it all the time, and I don’t think I’m the only one. When a book is done, when it’s been read and re-read, edited and re-edited, the reader doesn’t know which days you were dragging the words out of the pile in the corner. She doesn’t know your process of elimination for choosing conflict was eeny, meeny, miny, mo. She doesn’t know about that three days six months ago when all you got written were the profound words “Chapter 7.” Chances are good that the scene in Chapter 13 that never felt right to you sounds just fine to her reading ear.
Only I will know how great the days are when the connection between my writer’s fingers, ears, and heart is strong and clear. Only I will know how seldom those days really come around. The truth is, when I read over a completed project, I often don’t remember which days were good ones and which ones were awful.
I love my husband for all kinds of reasons, I like him for even more. And I admire him and his talent, most of all when he has those days that he doesn’t feel it, that nothing sounds right or thrills his musical soul. I say most of all because even then he picks up the guitar and plays and sings. He is still a music guy.
It reminds me that on this day when I’m not feeling it and that conflict is hiding so way deep in the pile in the corner I think I’ll never find it, I’m still a writer and I’m still going to keep digging. Maybe today will be awful or maybe I’ll find the connection. The important thing is that I keep looking. Because I’m still a writer.