I have been picking up and putting down the same novel-in-progress for the last year. It’s romantic suspense, could grow into a trilogy, and I’ve plucked a teeny bit from one of my real life adventures to get me started. Each time, though, something else has drawn my interest…another story, something shiny out the window, a sudden urge to alphabetize my penguin collection. And each time, I’ve lost my mojo at the same point—just when the switch gets flipped and my protagonist is confronted with the down side of the bargain she has made.
When I saw this quote by Joseph Campbell today in an article that Facebook friend Nick Hernandez forwarded to me, it was like my head cracked open. It confirmed what I’ve been avoiding and, at the same time, why I need to take my foot off the brake. I have been turning away from the story because delving into that place feels too difficult. Like something doesn’t want me to relive some of the memories I’ve been drawing on for the kernel of the conflict.
Some friends think this is why I should stop—because it’s too painful, because it’s self-destructive to dwell on the past. They love me. They mean well. They don’t want to see me suffer. I understand that, and I love them for it.
But as a writer, I have to push on. Because that’s where the rich material lives. The place I don’t want to go, the place I can’t see, the place where I stumble over the exposed roots and twisty vines is exactly where I need to grab a machete and start hacking.
I can’t wait to see what I’ll find.