If you’re a writer, chances are you’ve faced the horrifying reality of a blank screen. Generally, this terror strikes when you’ve finally completed the roller coaster ride of your last work in progress. You’re flushed with the sweet knowledge that you managed to get your characters, their world and a magnificent plot etched into electronic stone. Some writers may decide to take a small breather, a day, a week, a month, before attempting the next great journey.
Others (who are much braver than I am) give themselves a whopping hour before setting fingers to keyboard. Regardless of when you start, everyone encounters the same picture—a white screen where words tremble on the edge of existence.
Since I can’t speak for all of us out there (and we are legion!) we’ll say the views stated below are solely mine.
Follow me back three books. After mending the rips and tears from my writing partners on my second Urban Fantasy, SHADOW’S SOUL, I sent it on to my editor so she could dissect it and throw it back. The apparition of my third book, SHADOW’S MOON, loomed ahead like a large writer-eating slug.
Strapped to my office chair with chains of headphone cords and superglue dusting my fingertips, the urge to run was greatly dampened as I prepared to face my nemesis—a white screen. The decision had been made that SHADOW’S MOON would follow Xander, a secondary character, so as to give our main character couple a break. As the screen mocked me, my brain whirled. Plots and subplots flew around in a maelstrom. Faced with the fact that Xander, the heroine of my third book, was actually a fairly well adjusted, not too tormented being, I panicked. I don’t do well-adjusted characters. Dark and edgy are the two biggest components of character creation for me. Granted Xander can kick butt with the best of them, but she comes from a loving family, she’s confident in herself and her abilities, she’s unique and she just happens to be involved with a not-so-well-adjusted alpha male.
Slowly, bit-by-bit I started to carve out the plot, but it was like pulling teeth—without painkillers. I got halfway through, and felt like I just completed a 5K run in flip-flops. I sent out an SOS text to my partners in word slinging.
“Do I have to do it from her POV?” I whine.
Their responses are instantaneous: “Don’t be wimpy!” “Suck it up!” “YES!” and so on.
Resigned to my fate, I set Siri aside and continued on. Years and years later, I have a plot. HOORAY! Now to come up with the opening scene.
I reached into my emergency stash of chocolate and caffeine. I harbor a futile hope that this edible combination will save me from the bleak fate waiting on the other side of the screen.
I spent days lost in my head running through various scenarios. It got so bad I ended up walking around my house muttering constantly, hair sticking every which way, and wearing clothes that show why stripes and plaid should never go together. It’s horrible and my husband seriously considered contacting the local psych ward for help.
Finally, I dragged my weary, abused mind back to the computer. Six hours later, all I had to show for my efforts were seven measly pages. Tears of relief played havoc with my vision as I powered down the computer. That night I’m thrilled I’ve gotten something down, and even managed to go to sleep.
Then morning came, and with it, the realization that the scene would not work—not for the opening, and probably not in this book. My creativity threatened to implode. Now my inner critic pipes up. Maybe two books are all you have. You’re all written out. My creative well was empty.
I contemplated new hobbies such as…maybe….cooking, the kind that doesn’t involve a microwave, or rock collecting…a wisp of something drifted through my mind. It teased the edges of my consciousness with subtle pokes and prods, finally it snapped me out of my self indulgent whine-fest. That teasing temptation whispered, “What if…”, and suddenly I was tripping across the floors (it’s a super talent) and stumbling to my desk. Fingers raced across the keyboard and the most wonderful sight ever….WORDS started to spread across the white screen.
With six books under my belt, I have complete confidence I will face the challenge of the white screen again, rather soon actually. Any writer will warn you, this situation will pop up with frightening frequency…in the beginning of the story, in the middle of the story, at the end of the story. No matter how many times you manage to beat it back, it will endure, but so will you, because that’s what writers do. We endure and push through all those walls and blank screens so we can share the magic of our worlds and introduce readers to our wickedly cool peeps.
Find Jami at:
Black Opal Books
Muse It Up Publishing
Facebook Author Page
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You can find all the buy links for both The Kyn Kronicles and PSY-IV Teams, in all formats at: