Breaking the Wall

There’s a site I frequent, Science Fiction and Fantasy World, that runs a monthly fiction writing contest on its forums. You’re given a topic, and have about half the month to write a 1,000 word story on that topic, however you see fit. The forum members vote on the winner, who gets to pick the next month’s topic. It’s a fun exercise and a good kick in the ass to actually write something.

Now the first month I participated I sort of cheated, using something I’d already written that happened to fit the topic. Only problem was it was too long, and even massive editing couldn’t get it down to a manageable size. But I posted it anyway.

The next month I started from scratch, and actually got a couple of votes. Seeing as how the winning story got three votes, two votes didn’t seem all that bad. And yes, of course I thought my story was better than the one that won.

So now it’s a new month and a new topic, and I got off to a pretty good start, but then hit the dreaded wall. The wall that waits after all good beginnings. The wall with no door, that you just have to beat your head against until you find a way through or you give up and try to find a softer wall. I had a pretty good set up, and sort of an idea how I wanted things to end, but I had no idea how I was going to get there.

And that’s the thing that terrifies me about writing anything longer than a short story. Filling in the 500 words in the middle is bad enough. Filling in the 500 pages? That’s white-knuckle first-drop-on-a-roller-coaster territory. Often times enough to keep me from even attempting it.

But I pushed through this particular wall, and even ended up with an ending a little different than the one I’d planned. Maybe that’s what I need to do — let go of the certainty of getting to a specific place and just go and see where I end up. Just finish, then worry about going back and making sense of it.

Of course, I could end up like Robert Jordan and die before I finish.


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