Thursday, June 6, 2013

I know I'm in a Good Place When I Don't Know Where I'm Going - Lawrence C. Connolly - Biggest 'Ah-Ha!' Moments in Writing

By Lawrence C. Connolly

     Once upon a time I was working on a story about a kid with an imaginary friend. The first few pages seemed to write themselves, but then everything stalled. I had no idea where the thing was going, only that it wasn’t in the direction I had intended. For nearly a week I wrestled with the thing, trying one predictable and unremarkable resolution after another. I wanted to give up on it. I had other things to do. But something kept me plugging away, writing scenes, forcing resolutions. And then – after a week of dead ends – it clicked. Bam! So simple, so perfect, and yet when it came to me it nearly knocked me out of the chair. I called the story “Echoes,” sent it out into the world, and it’s been sending money home ever since.

     “Echoes” first appeared in Twilight Zone Magazine in 1983. That same year it was picked up for Year’s Best Horror, and since then it has been reprinted many more times in collections and magazines around the world (including my own collections Visions and This Way to Egress). It has also been adapted for film, twice.

     The success of “Echoes” taught me early on to appreciate those points in the process where it seems I’ve written myself into a hole, where the planned conclusion no longer makes sense, and when I have no idea where the story needs to go. Over the years, I’ve come to look forward to those moments. When I reach them, I know I’m about the write something that matters.

     How about you? Do you have an abandoned story in your files, something that once excited you but left you stranded at a creative dead end. Why not give it another look. Perhaps that dead end is really just an untraveled path. Clear it out and see where it leads.

Lawrence C. Connolly’s books include the novels Veins (2008) and Vipers (2010), which together form the first two books of the Veins Cycle. Vortex, the third book in the series, is due in 2013. His collections, which include Visions (2009), This Way to Egress (2010), and Voices (2011), collect all of his stories from Amazing Stories, Cemetery Dance, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Twilight Zone, and Year’s Best Horror. Voices was nominated for the Bram Stoker Award, Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection. He teaches writing at Sewickley Academy and serves twice a year as one of the residency writers at Seton Hill University’s graduate program in Writing Popular Fiction.

You can find out more about Lawrence C. Connolly here.

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