by Ann H. Gabhart
A writer needs time to gather a story, to let the glimmers spark out of that mysterious dark center of the imagination where stories are born. At times the glimmers may sparkle but still be as elusive as a sunbeam. You see it but you can’t quite grab it. I’ve been at the glimmer stage for many stories over the years. My current release, The Innocent, is my twenty-eighth published book. So I know about chasing after story glimmers to shine some imagination light on them.
Often, the initial glimmers for me are characters. In The Innocent, a local sheriff and a penniless woman seeking shelter with the Shakers stepped into the glimmering spotlight and beckoned me to write their story. But I needed more than glimmers. I had to find out more about them, invite them to live in my imagination for awhile while the glimmers got brighter and began illuminating their story.
But even after the story light is strong, I often stall. Am I ready to start? Do I know my characters well enough? Perhaps I should check out more about the historical era. Work a bit more on the plot.
At this stage sometimes hesitation becomes avoidance. How can I dive into a new story until I catch up on all those other writing related duties? What about those guest blog posts I promised. Plus, I have my own blog to keep going. What about the pages to review for an upcoming release? That can’t be put off. Don’t forget Facebook and Twitter. A writer has to gather followers there. Then there’s that special e-book sale on one of my books to put out on social media with the hope it won’t drive people crazy if it pops up too many times on their newsfeed. All necessary tasks. All writing related. If I’m doing them, I’m surely working. Surely writing.
But the truth is, I might be working, but I’m not writing. Those things do need my attention. The same as meals need to be cooked, houses cleaned, laundry done. Got to keep a dental appointment. Shampoo the dog. I absolutely have to make time for sleepovers with the grandkids. Well, you get the idea. Where’s the writing time in all this busyness?
I have always wanted to tell stories. Always. Sometimes that means not stalling but trusting those story glimmers enough to type Chapter 1 and begin. I can’t let all those other things take the place of writing my stories. I have to step into the story and begin again.
Even so, it can be a fearsome thing to write that first word. Will it work? Will the story magic happen again? I’ve done it before. I think the words will come. The story will be there if the characters are there. And I’ve seen them in the glimmers of my imagination.
How do you chase after the story glimmers? Do you ever put off beginning your stories?
Ann H. Gabhart is the author of several bestselling novels, including Love Comes Home, the Selah Book of the Year. The Innocent is the seventh book set in her fictional Harmony Hill Shaker village. Ann lives on a Kentucky farm. She has three children, nine grandchildren and one dog, Oscar.
Sitting here right now reading your blog post because I want to delay staring at that blinking cursor on the white page…
Great blog on all the reasons we put off writing when it’s something we love to do.
We are experts at “sharpening pencils,” aren’t we, Patricia? Of course, few of us have to sharpen pencils anymore before we write, but sometimes we have to clean our keyboards or straighten our desks or… Reading blogs is much more fun than that. Hope you filled your page with many good words.