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I’ve been blocked on the story I’m writing. I keep starting it, not seeing my way forward, trying to outline it, starting it again…. I have three or four versions started and saved under different names or dates in that project’s folder. But, frustrating as that is, I’m being patient with it. I tell it I’m going to zip it all into a zip file and just hold it for another time, but I keep messing with it.

See, it isn’t a matter of inspiration. Sometimes I write because the story takes hold of me, but usually it’s a character or a situation or a concept, and those have to be inserted into a story line, and the story line has to be right. The story line is like a suit of clothes. The clothes have to fit what’s inside them, and they have to be appropriate for the occasion. I have the characters and I have the occasion, and now I’m designing and making the clothes for them. Since the story I need to write is science fiction, I not only have to make the clothes, I have to design and weave the fabric. You can’t do that on a deadline if you wait for inspiration. You have to work for it.

I’ve learned that, for me, writer’s block is a form of work. I’m not actually working through the story yet, because I don’t have the fabric or the pattern yet. I’m working on that while I’m playing solitaire, cooking dinner, watching television, staring into space, writing scenes of dialog that aren’t going to be part of the finished story. I’m figuring out what’s going on behind the scenes that makes the scenes happen the way they need to happen. I’m poking at things, looking for sore points–points of dramatic tension. When I get my ducks in a row, I’ll nail them down. Let’s see…I think I could mix more metaphors, but the screen might implode.

Anyway, it’s frustrating, and I miss deadlines for anthologies sometimes because that’s the way I work. It isn’t a particularly good way to work, but plots are my weakest point, and the only way I can construct one is from the inside out.

At least I don’t get writer’s block. Not really.


writing prompt: Relax.

I spent a couple of days with my writer-daughter and we both got a little work done.  I don’t know what broke through her block, but she sat down saying she didn’t know what to do with a particular scene and got up with the scene finished.

I’m working on a comic mystery–I had finished about fifty pages, but it wasn’t feeling right.  I decided to try changing it from third person to first person, and that’s bringing it to life for me.  As I go through and change it, I’m opening up the scenes as well.  It was going too fast, before, had no shape.  I think it’s better now….

Tomorrow, I need to get started on my columns for next week.  I think I know what I’m going to do them on; at least, two or three of the five.  I love getting started early in the week.  I enjoy poking around and following my curiosity.  When I get started later in the week, I have to just shove something out–always something I’m interested in, but not so much exploring.

It’s cold in Southern Indiana today, but I’m cozy at the library, where they have high-speed internet.  I’m supposed to be writing my food history column, but I’m messing around getting a blog started. 

 If I don’t get back into fiction writing soon, I’ll start hallucinating.  It’s just a matter of making the time–I have time here and there, and I could easily use it to write, but I’m so bone lazy I end up playing Mahjongg or the Linux Tetris.  Pathetic.  Maybe a blog will help.  Maybe I’ll think, “I need to update my blog.  No, that’s too much like work–I think I’ll write something instead.”

 Here’s hoping!


Here is where I ramble on about whatever happens to fall through my mind. I also have a professional site, where I post about my books, stories, news and appearances. Every month, I post a “Hot Flash” there–a story or prose poem of about 50 words. I hope you enjoy your visit. –Marian Allen

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