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Monday, June 25, 2012

In the Zone


Have you ever read a book you couldn't put down? One you read way into the night. You know the kind. You say to yourself "I'll just read one more page and then turn out the light." Then, it's "I'll just finish this chapter" and the darn author hooks you with the last sentence of the chapter and forces you to turn the page just to see what happens next. That's happened so many times to me. I love those books even when I regret the loss of sleep. The worst was when I would read until four-thirty and have to get up at six. Almost wasn't worth trying to sleep.

I had that same experience this weekend writing. Weird, huh? I've had good writing days before. Days when the Muse was sitting on my shoulder, whispering great stuff in my ear. More often than not, she would sit there for an hour (if that) then take off for Florida or Phoenix—anywhere but on my shoulder here in Michigan. I would keep writing, hoping she'd quit fooling around with another writer and return. Sometimes, she did. Sometimes . . . well you get the idea.

I don't know what happened Friday (and Saturday and Sunday), but it was marvelous. The words flowed. No, more like gushed—sentences, whole pages, chapters. Short chapters but still . . . The rush, the exhilaration, the feeling that the book was practically writing itself. And it was even going in the direction I wanted. I finally understood what athletes mean by being in the zone.

To get the picture, you should know I'm writing the conclusion of the Switched books. I know these characters. They've been in two books already. Some of the secondary characters, and the villain, have been steadily revealing themselves. After some brainstorming with my critique partner back in April, I had a good idea how to get the story from where it ended in Switched, Too to where I wanted everything to wrap up. I've been steadily writing ever since. Some days, it was like slogging through a marsh, but I persevered. I set things in motion, laid the groundwork, all of which takes time. I'm not in a rush. Apparently, my Muse decided I needed a kick in the rear.

On Friday, the words started coming. My fingers could hardly keep up. What a great feeling. Wasn't going to last but I was enjoying it. My husband dragged me to the fitness club (as he does almost every morning) and I couldn't wait to get back to the keyboard. After lunch, he asked if I wanted to do something (code for he wanted to get out of the house). I said no, don't bother me. I was a little politer—is that a word?—than that and I kept writing. At bedtime, I thought wasn't that a great day? Won't happen again, but wasn't it great? On Saturday, I did my usual—grab a cup of coffee from the Keurig, settle in the recliner with the laptop and, holy smoke, the Muse was back. When patient husband asked again if I wanted to go someplace, I said give me a half hour. Then, it was an hour later and I was still writing. "What's for dinner?" "Give me a half hour and I'll think of something." Another hour passed and he was putting hamburgers on the grill and would I please make a salad? I wanted to help with dinner. Really, I did. I was about to tear myself away but the bad guys were just . . . Oh, hamburgers are ready? Right. Salad.

Sunday was a repeat. Write and write and . . . "Honey, do you want to do something?" "Okay, but I'm in a really good spot. How about a half hour?" Then, I had to really consider what I was doing. He is awfully patient and understanding. But I really wanted to write one more paragraph, one more page, just another chapter . . . No, I needed to drag myself off the starship Freedom and return to real life. But, darn it. I was so afraid the Muse wouldn't return. That she'd say "Nuts to you. I gave you your chance." Still, I couldn't let my real-life hero think my fictional people were more important than him.

When I look at what I accomplished this weekend, I'm amazed. Oh, sure, the story is still in rough draft. All the pages I wrote will need some editing, tweaking, even downright revising. Today when I read it over, it may suck. But if I had such a great time writing, doesn't that mean the reader will, too? Will my rush to move the story along translate to a page turner for the reader? I fervently hope so. Will the Muse be back or will she decide to take a vacation in Bermuda?

Whichever way it goes today, that feeling of being in the zone sure was good while it lasted.

Have you ever felt that way?

16 comments:

  1. How wonderful for you! I've had the muse come and stay with me for a few days, but that was long ago. Now she comes to perch for short periods. I have to wake her up and prop her on my shoulder. Maybe I need to let her rest. I hope yours stays long enough for you to finish Book Three!

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    1. Thanks so much, Patty. I've had her fall asleep, too, so I know what you mean. :)

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  2. Sounds like you accomplished a lot and enjoyed it. I think it shows in our writing when we're in the zone. As if those words that fall from nowhere are the best and strongest, and the story the most compelling. I haven't been in the zone like that for a while; hoping it will happen soon. But like Patty, I grab those short spells when I can.
    Go Diane!

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    1. Thanks, Lucy. Grabbing the spell is all you can do--and hang on.

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  3. I envy you, Diane. Yes, I've felt that way, but not lately. Here's hoping that Muse had so much fun on your shoulder, she'll stick around this week.

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    1. This was such a rare thing I had to share. Hopefully, the dry spells will be few & far between for all of us.

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  4. Good for you Diane.

    Rohn Federbush

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  5. Wow, I am so happy for you, Diane--and embarrassingly envious. Go girl, go.

    All the best, Annette

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    1. The best to you, too, Annette. Thanks.

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  6. I love it when that happens! Such a good feeling! So nice when the words flow faster than your fingers can type. Wonderful, Diane! Here's hoping for many more of those fabulous days!

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    1. Me, too. I think the Muse went on vacation. It's slogging time again. :(

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  7. Oh, Diane, how wonderful! Those kinds of days are truly special to a writer. Hope your muse is with you for many more!

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  8. I haven't accomplished so much in awhile but I do remember what a glorious feeling. I'm so happy you rode it out for three whole days! Way to go! Hope you get lots of those kind of days.

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