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July 19, 2012


Karen in Ohio

Oh, heck, I've been stuck on a beginning for two years.

Maybe a little breathing space will help, do you think? Take the weekend to walk, have dinner with friends, see a movie (maybe not in a theater, shudder), or go to a concert. Let your brain work on it passively, without any input from your conscious self, and then when you get back to it, with any luck, there it will be.

We have faith in your, Hank, dear.

Karen in Ohio

Uh, that was supposed to be faith in YOU.

Hank Phillippi Ryan

Oh, thank you, Karen...You know, I agree with you about the "relax" thing...it's so fascinating (and exciting!) how our brains come up with the answers.

The key--and the hardest part!--is that we can't MAKE it happen.

Storyteller Mary

Hank, I know you will find it . . . and make it clear to readers. I love that you can weave complex plots and intriguing characters without letting us get lost in the maze. It's a gift!
Right now your story is percolating, or as a storytelling friend describes her process, "stewing." When it has steeped properly, you'll know it. Meanwhile, perhaps enjoy a cup of tea, or a bit of tai chi . . . if you were close, I'd invite you to our aqua-aerobics class to splash all worries away . . .

Karen in Ohio

So true. The best writing I ever did in my life was almost like automatic writing: my brain was disengaged and listening to soothing music while my hands did the work. Some people call it "being in the zone", and for me it was rare. What about you?

lil Gluckstern

Nothing about the difficulty of writing would surprise me. I have so much respect for all of you who gut it out, and work so hard to bring pleasure to us. All the time, having lives that are also demanding of your energy and attention. That last sentence is an example of why I am an enthusiastic reader, and not a writer. Sigh!

Hank Phillippi Ryan

OH, the zone. DO you know Kristin Bair O'Keeffe? She calls it being in "writerhead." And sometimes, I can get there.

Pre-writerhead stewing is also good.

DOing that now..xoxo

Deb Romano

How about asking that talented grandson of yours for advice? :-)

I've read that if you have a problem, or a decision to be made, tell yourself before you go to bed that you want to "dream"the solution. I must admit that this has NEVER worked for ME,but some people seem to swear by it. (On the other hand, I have had dreams about things that inspired me to do something...so maybe the trick for you could be to NOT think about it,and then see if the inspiration shows up in a dream! Hey,it's free advice, if nothing else:-)

Hank Phillippi Ryan

OH, yes, Deb! I've never ada dream work--but I do use that alpha-state right before I go to sleep--know what I mean?
It's amazing how clearly our minds work then.

Elaine Viets

Congratulations on your book,Hank. Yes, as I approach the end of a novel, I get this frantic urge to clean house. In the middle of book, when I'm writing full steam, the place looks like the morning after a frat party. But when the end is nigh, I see dust on the top of the fridge, on knicknacks, cat hair on the sofa. Oh, and the white marble tile in the livingroom is an endless distraction
Let go of the book, Hank. Your readers want to see it.

Edith Maxwell

I haven't had trouble with knowing the ending in the two books I've finished, at least once I'm as close as you are. But I do have trouble with the last page. How to finish it off so readers want to read the next book without making it trite and too easy: "Oh, aren't we happy now that we solved the murder?" Those last few paragraphs are the hard part for me!

I, along with everybody else in the universe, have faith in you, Hank! Maybe all it takes is the old "butt in the chair, fingers on the keyboard"... ;^)

Hank Phillippi Ryan

Thanks, dear Elaine. That's very...lovely. And I am grateful for your wisdom. Thank you.

Edith, we're quite a team! I can get the last page--my favorite thing to write. It's the penultimate chapter that's the bear.. It can't be author's convenience, or coincidence, or obvious, or too un-obvoious.You know?

Rhonda Lane

Your grandson should be on speed-dial. ;) Still, I'm a hybrid pantser/plotter and believe that the ending is somewhere in the fog in the subconscious.

I know that's not very businesslike. (We're authors! We're professionals! We have deadlines!) But story is part of the subsconscious, what Sue Grafton calls The Shadow, and it's on that level in which we link with the reader, IMO. ("My mind to your mind.")

So that's just a long-winded way of telling you that you may already know the ending, but you may not be ready on some level to know it. Oooooh!

Hank Phillippi Ryan

OH, Rhonda, I do love you. Thank you. And I know when I'm getting there, because I start to cry.

Sue is so brilliant, isn't she?


Hank, you can do it! In fact, I know you did it! Hooray!!!

It's almost always the middle for me, which is really the ending (I know and will have written the beginning and the ending, just not how to get from one to the other). So I don't even get to type "The End" until I've edited at least once. It's a matter of going back and looking at the bread crumbs you've left for yourself that will get the solution, in my experience.

Hank Phillippi Ryan

Dana, I'm not kidding, you are SO RIGHT. The bread crumbs. They're absolutely there. HOW do they get there? It's one of the mysteries. And it is such fun to be reading along in your first draft ms. and see one! Oh. It's the best. You think--really? Who put that there? How did I know?

(An yes, I'm very proud of myself for finishingthe first draft. Now I have to cut--25 pages. Bwa ha ha.

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