A little lost. A little found.

Well, it’s day 20. Today we should all be crossing 33,300 words. I am not there and I won’t be for a while.

Part of that is being hit by this virus that’s taken out half the writing group now. For three days last weekend I struggled to reach even 100 words a day. It took out some of the days that are traditionally my best catch-up days. And I fell further behind.

Part of it is the week two blues, which have persisted into week three for me. The week two blues come with the absolute, gut wrenching belief that you have gone in the wrong direction. Somewhere along the way the plot you were writing stopped being the plot you were planning. You’re lost, you’ve ruined the novel, and nothing will ever be right again.

In my non-writing time I travel to a lot of estate auctions in small towns around the area. I take an old-school approach to get to these. I print out directions from a map site and use them to get me close enough for the auction companies to draw me in with signs they put up. It’s nerve wracking following some back road I’ve never traveled on to some small town I’ve never visited and hoping to find a house or building that I’ve never set eyes on. I have to trust that the directions won’t lead me astray. And 99% of the time they get me there.

But there’s often a point as I’m driving that I’m convinced I’m lost. That point where my directions say to follow this road for 5 miles, even though the road has forked and I’m not sure I took the right fork, and I’m way outside of town now, and did I just pass the county line? But I keep driving. Sometimes I keep driving because that’s the only choice and there’s nowhere to turn around just now. I keep driving because that’s the only way to find out if I’m lost. I drive a little further, and a little further, and eventually I’m there. With little auction signs to light my way.

That’s something like noveling. I’m in that point in the novel that every writer seems to experience. My outline just took a major hit and needs to be reworked. My twist has revealed itself a full act too early. And I’m convinced that everything I’ve ever written is awful, even though I know this is categorically false. There are at least a few bits I like. Buried in there. Somewhere.

The only way to know for sure whether or not I’ve broken the novel is to keep writing for a bit. It should come together in the next 10,000 words. Sometime soon I’ll have an epiphany to fix the third act. My character will find new and interesting ways to ruin her life. I just have to convince myself to keep writing so that we can find out. One word at a time. Until I can see the signs pointing me home.

Dianne Williams lives in Lawrence, Kansas. She grew up reading Nancy Drew mysteries and classic science fiction. She once dreamed of being an astronaut. Or maybe a lawyer. Or an artist. She settled for being as many of them as she could all at once through fiction writing.

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