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Fess Up Monday

Originally published at Joely Sue Burkhart. You can comment here or there.

As you know, I’ve been reading The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. I haven’t been as regular in getting my “morning” pages (I don’t do them in the morning–that’s my precious writing time), but I’ve been journaling at least a few times a week and working on keeping myself open to the creative “force” that is all around us.

This weekend, I needed to grind through the first pass of editor revisions for Beautiful Death. I’d already read through all the suggested changes, and we’d both agreed that one particular scene needed to be entirely rewritten. Changing that scene would require changes filtered down through the other related scenes, and to make this more difficult, the scene in question was a sex scene.

I write progressive love scenes. They don’t happen by chance, or for titilation, but for a reason. The intimate journey is just as important as the outer mythic journey and the inner quest to remove the mask. So to entirely rewrite an early sex scene…. meant all the others in the story would need significant work.

The problem? I hadn’t decided the best way to handle that scene yet. It’s complicated, but my original vision for this story was more Laurell K. Hamilton style. I was testing a personal boundary, decided I didn’t like how it was unfolding, and started over again with a new vision for the story. But some things, once they’re decided, have a tendency to stick. I was definitely stuck, and I couldn’t think of the best way to fix it.

Friday and Saturday, I did all the “easy” edits except for the last 80 pages or so. Sunday we had church, and it was the first glorious day we’ve had in weeks. It was sunny, instead of rainy, and the monsters wanted to play outside. Yet I had this massive amount of work to do on BD and I’d promised to have it back to the editor today (Monday). I knew, though, that I wasn’t ready yet. The pieces hadn’t fallen into place.

So I sat outside with the kids while they played and I worked on the last 80 pages of easy edits. Then Middle Monster wanted to ride her bike further than our little driveway area, so I took the computer inside and went walking with her. We got in a good 20-25 minute walk, just enough to get my blood pumping and enjoy the weather. The whole time, I deliberately pushed the lingering story problem out of my mind, but I consciously remained open. Just absorbing things, listening, I guess.

We returned home and I left That Man outside with the kids while I returned to work. I opened up the laptop and started Napster, my music source on the laptop. I hadn’t opened it up all day, so it took me to the home page where it lists the current top tracks.

There, at number one, sat a song that I’d never heard of before. Didn’t know the artist. (We listen mostly to country and classic rock in the car.) But any of you who know my writing will immediately recognize the appeal that a song titled “Bleeding Love” would have, by Leona Lewis. I played the song and pulled up the lyrics so I could see them as she sang. I deleted the other songs from my Beautiful Death playlist (Wings of a Butterfly by H.I.M and Fix You by Coldplay) and ran Bleeding Love on a continuous loop.

And I fixed that scene in about 2 hours. 2240 words. I knew exactly how to tackle it, how the arc of the love story would then play out. By 10:00 last night, I’d made the filter down changes through the whole manuscript and fell into bed.

Moral of the story: remain OPEN and look for inspiration. It does come when you need it.

Have you had an unexpected inspiration from Creation that helped you with a difficult scene or story problem?

Keep bleeding, keep keep bleeding love. Cut me open.

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