Thursday, May 9, 2013

Nearing the End... with Alexis Lantgen

Here it goes: Nearing the End

Like many creative endeavors, writing is both agony and ecstasy. It's often slow, painful, and frustrating. Yet once you fight your way through the drudgery and the writer's block, it's incredibly satisfying, too. And sometimes, when the stars align just right, it's magic.

I felt magical when I first started writing my novel. Excited by my ideas, loving my characters, my first 20,000 words seemed to pour out of my mind with an urgent joy. And then...blah. I still loved my story, but the act of writing it seemed dreary. I had to struggle more for words. I had to adjust my outline. I started reading articles on “how to write more!” and “what to do when you're stuck in a your writing.” For the most part, not much helped until I just sat down and forced myself to write, even when I didn't feel like it.

I had been warned by other writers, of course, that if you only write when the mood hits you, you'll never accomplish much. But I was sure I would be different, and when my first chapters came so easily I thought I'd escaped the “hard work” part of writing. I was wrong. I spent the next few weeks ignoring my novel except when I felt “inspired.” I didn't accomplish much. 

Finally, I made myself start writing again, every day when possible. To my surprise, the writing I did when I worked hard seemed just as good as the writing I did when I felt inspired. I'd been afraid I wouldn't be able to create a compelling scene or rich characters without that creative buzz, but instead I found myself coming up with scenes and solutions I might never have imagined otherwise. I'm not saying it was always easy. I still got frustrated. When I just couldn't think of anything, instead of abandoning my writing, I took a short break to read excellent literature for ideas and inspiration. Dante's Inferno, in particular, got me out of a few hard spots.

Now that I'm close to finishing my first draft, I feel the excitement again. Remember, even if you're having a hard time, keep at it. Winston Churchill said, “if you're going through hell, keep going!” Writing a novel is a long journey, but I'm at a point now where I know I'm going to finish. You can get there, too. Trust me, it's an amazing feeling.

 Alexis Lantgen is a musician and writer who holds a master’s degree in music performance from Florida International University, as well as a Bachelor of Music in viola performance and a Bachelor of Arts in Letters (Magna cum Laude) from the University of Oklahoma. She performs on violin and viola in orchestras including the Wichita Falls Symphony and the San Angelo Symphony. She currently teaches private violin and viola lessons, and in the past taught eighth grade English and ESL in Dallas public schools. Her first novel is a YA Urban Fantasy about a young African American boy who must save his sister from an evil voodoo sorcerer and a demonic feathered serpent.
Follow her on Twitter  @TheWiseSerpent

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