A gross (but hopefully helpful) analogy by yours truly

My youngest daughter has a Kenyan sand boa.

DSC_0334.jpg picture by munchi5gal

** If you like snakes, then you'll probably agree with me when I say that she/he (?) is the cutest thing *ever*. (I'm already imagining the wonderful comments that previous sentence is going to bring my way. Ha.)

Now, I like snakes. What I do not like however, is feeding time. In fact, feeding time makes me downright sad. My daughter knows how it works: I will take her to get the pinky (aka baby mouse/rat/or in last week's case, hamster -- still pink, not yet covered in fur), I will buy the pinky, and I will take her and the pinky back home. But after that, I sure as heck am not going to go into her room and watch what happens next.

I understand the whole circle of life thing (I *have* seen The Lion King a bazillion times, thank you very much). I get that it takes life to keep life going. Yes. I understand. But watching it actually take place? No thanks. You won't ever catch me in front of the TV with National Geographic shows playing because I simply cannot handle it. I can't see the entertainment in watching one animal eating another. (And don't even joke at the dinner table about the name of the cow I'm eating, or attempt to invite me fishing, because I'll refuse to hook that poor fish!)

Am I losing you? Are you wondering what in the world Snookie eating pinkies has to do with my (not mentioned at all yet) analogy? Well stick with me here. It's coming up next.

Even people who don't like snakes know what they have to do to survive - they have to eat - really big things. And unlike our meals, which can be broken into little bites and enjoyed at leisurely pace, snakes have to force one thing down, slowly. (Doesn't sound remotely leisurely to me.)

So here's my analogy:

We all come across issues during the writing process. The plot may have serious wrinkles, the chapters may be too short or too long, the dialogue may lack that realistic quality we're desperate for it to have. And of course, we end up getting frustrated. We want it all fixed NOW. It isn't fair when what we know in our heads so well won't go down on the paper/screen the way want. Or when those problems needing fixing just can't seem to be fixed.

When those feelings come over us - inadequacy or frustration, for example - then it's time to be like Snookie, my friends. The problem is our pinky. Figuring it out may not happen as fast as wolfing down a cheeseburger, but it will happen, eventually. (Sometimes Snookie doesn't like the way a pinky is going down and she spits it back out, then goes back for another try.)

We can take a breath and step away from our writing place. We can take a walk. We can invite someone out to ice cream or coffee. We can go get groceries, watch three movies in a row, get our oil changed. It's okay to chew on ideas for a while before coming up with a resolution.

So there you go - an analogy probably a little tough to swallow (I know, I'm sorry. I couldn't resist.), but an analogy just the same. Time isn't good time unless it's being spent the right way, and there's nothing worse than realizing many hours have gone by, and the only thing you've accomplished is upping the bite mark tally on your pencil.

I promise - the pinky will go down, in time. And when it does, you'll feel amazing.

How about you? What do you do when you feel stumped? Do you have a routine to help get those creative juices flowing again?


Linda G. said...

Eeeew. But an apt analogy nonetheless!

When something isn't working for me writing-wise, I give myself permission to go crazy with it. I write the most bizarre stuff I can think up, just to get the wheels turning again. Know what? It's surprising how much of that stuff I've kept. ;)

Davin Malasarn said...

Thanks for this, Jessica. This is a lesson I know, but it's a reminder that I needed right now. I had forgotten the importance of this. When I need my breaks, I read. Usually I read all the time, but only in small sessions. When I feel stuck with writing I will spend days reading without thinking about my writing. That usually clears my head.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I go back and reread what I've already written and that gets me going again.

And I love snakes!!! Okay, I was a little unnerved when I discovered a baby rat snake in our hallway last fall - I don't want the wild ones in my house thanks. But otherwise, I'm totally fascinated.

Karen Strong said...

Okay...breathe. Ha.

Had a brief flashback of the snake that fell on my head in my grandmother's house (it had been living there for YEARS).

But I do like your analogy though.

What gets me going is reading a passage from one of my favorite books. It inspires to try to work on my own novel.

Anita said...

Oh, the mind of a true novelist!

Good one Jessica. :)

Lydia Kang said...

Okay, I'm a science-y girl and not at all grossed out by your analogy. And I applaud you for finding relevance to your life and writing just about anywhere!
For me, just a day or two of thinking about different things helps me come up with solutions.

J. Koyanagi said...

It's an excellent analogy and I think snakes are adorable!

When I'm stuck, I go on a walk for a couple of hours, play with my dog, or talk through the novel's issues with my spouse. All three work wonders.

beck nicholas said...

Not really a snake kinda girl here so it was a bit creepy but I appreciate the analogy and now am off for a (hopefully snake-free) walk to get this Pinky down!

Jessica L. Brooks (coffeelvnmom) said...

Wow, I'm surprised I didn't gross more people out with this idea!;)

Linda - I love that idea! I'm going to add that to my personal list of tools!

Domey - Glad the post gave you a good nudge. I do a lot of reading too. It gives my mind a break and I end up feeling refreshed. (And sometimes it gives me an idea or two!)

L. Diane - Yes, I agree. Coming up on a snake inside the house wouldn't be my cup of tea either.;)

Karen - That sounds traumatizing! I'm not sure I'd like them too much either if that happened to me!

Anita - Ha. You made me laugh.

Lydia - Thanks. I love when someone applauds for me. =)

J. Koyanagi - Glad you liked the analogy! I can't walk my dogs (out of control, those three) but talking issues over with my husband helps a lot. Not long ago I was trying to figure out how to make something happen, but couldn't figure out how to do it. He immediately solved the problem by pointing out a simple solution I hadn't even thought of! So helpful!

Beck - Now I'm curious... did the walk work?

A.L. Sonnichsen said...

I love snakes! Not poisonous ones in my backyard, of course, but I love the way snake skin feels.

When things aren't working, I usually just walk away from it all. Usually in the middle of the night or in the shower sometime it will all come together. Usually when I'm doing something relaxing and not stressing about my plot points.