Writing the Plot: When What You Want Doesn’t Matter

“When authors write best, or at least, when they wrote most fluently, an influence seems to waken in them which becomes their master, which will have its own way, putting ¬†out of view all behests but its own, dictating words, and insisting on their being used, whether vehement or measured in their nature; new moulding characters, giving unthought- of turns to incidents, rejecting carefully elaborated old ideas, and suddenly creating and adopting new ones. Is this not so? And should we try to counteract this influence? Can we indeed counteract it?”- Charlotte Bronte

I write in my head. When there’s no pen or pencil around, no keyboard, I write in my head. My glassy eyes are unfocused and unblinking as I compose sentences in my mind, rearranging their placement, dreaming new dialogue, building new scenes and I generally don’t realize that I’ve fallen into the pit until Mum tilts her head to find my eyes and asks if I’m okay. And all this is fine until I sit down to type it out in a word processor and everything I built is blown away like ashes.

“Uh-uh,” someone says in my head, “start over.”

And I pout and say, “But-”

and they shake their head and say, “I don’t like it. It’s no good. Now write.”

And I say “But-”

And they calmly shake their head and say “Write. Put your fingers over the keys and start typing.”

and I say, “But what are we doing, what’s going to happen?”

and they press their lips together and stay silent, keeping all the content from me.

And when I fold my arms and stomp

they fold their arms and slowly lean back like Alice’s caterpillar and regard me coolly

And when I strain my ears for what I’m supposed to say

they arch their eyebrows in amusement

“You don’t get it yet, do you?” They say with a smile on their lips. “No type, no story. No write, no create. You don’t get any sneak previews. You don’t need to see where you’re going to get there. Your eyes have nothing to do with this trip, doll. No ears either. No maps, no compass, no flashlight, no plans. Now, walk your fingers across those keys, or we aren’t going anywhere.”

And we stare at each other.

And I start picking up pieces of what I constructed prior to their interruption and paste them crudely to the page, but they don’t stick. I get more frustrated as they fall, and they cross their legs and watch it all from their perch.

I throw it all on the floor in a wet messy heap and cry.

And they chew a straw and stare down at it and then ask if I’m finished yet. Because the train hasn’t left the station, but home is waiting and supper is cold.

And I stomp to my desk and stick my hands over they keys, shoot them a look meant to knock them off their mushroom, and then type. Blindly.

But instead up stumbling into marshes, I walk around ponds. Instead of falling off hills, I walk off them into trees and the scenery paints itself as I go along. And Someone fades into the back, legs crossed reading a book in the dark while I work and walk, not making  a sound but keeping out an eye for when I try to work out the plot.