In Which My Writer Brain Surprises Me, and I Wax Celebratory Over It.

My 10th graders are doing an in-class essay exam today.  And I’m all caught up with grading and planning.  So I opened my laptop and started writing.

I’ve been stuck in this battle for days–weeks, even.  I’ll get 300 words out if I’m lucky, and that takes HOURS.

Today I opened, looked at the screen, thought for about thirty seconds on what could happen next, and got a wide-eyed look of “Of course!” and started typing.

I drive a 2007 VW Passat that has a turbo engine.  It’s no supercar, but one of the things I love to do–more than I ought to love it–is to floor the gas and feel the power of the turbo accelerating to freeway speed, or to pass someone.  I’m not even a car guy, and I freaking love doing this.  This car has power.

Just now?  My brain felt like that.  Once I knew what I wanted to do, what made sense, the words just flowed.  That happens so rarely that it’s like a drink of cool spring water after hours of working in 100+ heat (Fahrenheit, of course; I’m an American).

And the best part is that I’m not even done.  I had to quit because in five minutes a new class is coming in, and I have to actually teach, but my lunch will be me taking a quick look at the notes I just wrote down and flying.  And then this afternoon I’ll get some more writing in before it’s time to pick my daughter up from her basketball practice.

Actually?  That’s not the best part.  It’s great, but the best part is that what’s happening right now in the scene?  The moment that will engage the Protagonist in the last desperate actions that will save his ass?  I never saw it coming.  It came out of left field, and it ties directly into stuff from an earlier scene I was afraid might not work, and ties it into his larger journey as well–and even dips into some of my favorite techno-spiritual ideas.

I love my brain when it works.

While I’m here, I’m going to thank my Viable Paradise 17 Instructors, who gave me the courage to trust my writer self when it does this.  Before VP I might have said “No, it’s dumb, it won’t work.”  Now I know I can trust myself.

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About Michael Johnston

Father of a third grader, high school English teacher, writer. Forty-three years old and feeling almost every bit of it on some days, and not a bit of it on others. Based in Sacramento, California, USA
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