The other side of suffering

Sometimes writing is pure suffering.

For the last few days, although I have dutifully sat down to write at my appointed time, the words haven’t flowed. I’ve written a sentence, then backspaced, written a few more words, stared at them, wiped them away. Nothing seems right. I can’t get in the flow or feWriting processel like I’m inhabiting my characters.

This morning was the same. After a half hour of working on my novel I opened up the document in which I keep notes about the writing process and moaned to myself about the difficulties I was having. (This document dates back to 1992, covering two complete novels and numerous incomplete ones, and chronicles the ups and downs and ins and outs of the process.) As I complained onto the page, I wrote a phrase that seemed as if it might fit in the section I was struggling with, so I pasted it into my novel draft. It sounded right. I went back to working on the novel—still feeling far from inspired but at least feeling that I could write a decent paragraph. Then I had a flash of insight about how to finish an earlier chapter that had seemed unresolved.

This is how it goes: On the other side suffering a small victory may await. Sometimes that has to be enough.

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