I watched them from far away, until the sun sank in the sky and finally slipped out of sight. At first glance there didn’t seem to be very much that was interesting about them. The scene before me wasn’t anything spectacular. No drama, no intense discussions. No fighting or situations in urgent need of solving. Just two people, talking. I knew more or less what they were talking about. Although, sometimes the things they said felt like a mystery, even to me.
It was late, and I had been working for a long time. Working but not really feeling like I was accomplishing much of anything. Instead I was sitting here alone, and I was thinking about them. What is it that they have? What makes them so interesting to me? I don’t know what it is, but I know that I can’t describe it the way it deserves. It’s one of those intangible qualities that you feel but can’t articulate. They’re the heart of my book, but yet everything I’ve ever tried to build and write around them has fallen short. For me, it’s always about those two. I want so much for everyone to know them, but all I’m managing to do is keep them to myself.
There are moments. Glimpses of the way I see them, shining through. The words finally enough. But too often what I want to say is obscured by these same words and details, heaped on one on top of the other. I’m the one who most wants to share their story with the world. But yet, I’m the one standing in their way. I’ve built a maze around them, one that is torturous and confusing. One that threatens to leave them wandering lost inside of it forever. A maze of words that just aren’t good enough. Pages and pages of confusing sentences.
They stood up to go, and I felt my heart sink. It was like this every day. Every day I had my chance to write their story. But every day I worried and erased and wrote and deleted until there was no sun left in the sky and they were heading home. I watched them walk away, until they had totally faded from my vision. Another missed opportunity. For a long while I sat there, looking at the spot where they had just been, hoping that they would come back. They didn’t. I hadn’t really expected them to. It was late, after all.
When you’re writing, I think there are few things more frustrating than not being able to get out of your own way. I feel sometimes as though I’m trapped in that maze along with these two characters, making turns and twists that keep me endlessly busy but never allow me to make any real progress. When I think about them and their relationship, I feel sometimes that I’m trapped in the deepest part of the maze. The part where I will never escape. At those times I feel the panic building, the doubts creeping in. That dreaded question pressing against my mind as I try to ignore it…what if I never figure it out?
Have can you ever tried to put the things you see so clearly in your mind into words, and fallen short? I feel like every time I do I manage to accomplish nothing but build complicated walls around myself, my own words boxing me in as I try to paint their story.
I know that it is always worth the struggle, to keep trying to find the way out of these mazes I’ve built. At the end is this prize–understanding, clarity. This thing that becomes light and illuminates everything the way that you’d always hoped. If you wander long enough, I believe that you will find it. I haven’t yet, but every time I sit at the computer to write there is a chance, a chance that today will be the day. The day where everything falls into place.
Out of the darkness, I saw the littlest bit of light. It was very faint, unveiling itself slowly. Stars. They gradually lit the night again, until it was bright again. Not as bright as the sun, different. Tonight I could begin again. I could try again. I turned back to the computer and began to write. One step at a time. Then two steps. And then onward for as long as it takes.