When I’m reading a romance novel, the dark night of the soul is one of my favorite parts of the story. I want it to get really bleak. I want the hero to be chained to the walls in the bowels of a blackened dungeon. I want the heroine to be trapped in the tallest tower with no way out. I want all hope to be lost. I want all these things knowing that I can count on a happily-ever-after ending.
Yet in my real life, when I’m writing a romance, I try to avoid personal dark-night-of-the-soul moments at all costs. I don’t want to buy a ticket for the dark night of the soul rollercoaster. I plot and plan to put my characters on that thrill ride every time I begin a new story, and please keep your hands inside the ride at all times, but I want my reality to be ‘E-Ticket’-free. I prefer my own journey to be a gentle boat ride, like ‘It’s A Small World’ at Disneyland, only without that annoying earworm of a song.
While I’m on the slow boat ride portion of my life, my writing is smooth sailing. In fact, it’s a little like a sunset cocktail cruises… only there’s no sunset and no cocktails. I can crank out words like a machine. But let’s face it, the gentle boat ride is the shortest ride at the amusement park of life.
No matter how hard I try to avoid it, I end up buying a ticket and climbing aboard life’s version of Big Thunder Mountain. It’s inevitable. Sure, it’s all fun and games and Instagram selfies going up the hill, but the minute I’m going down, my writing goes into complete upheaval. My word count grinds to a halt. At the first sign of strife I have a hard time even sharing the same room as my computer.
For the last few weeks, I have been screaming on the rollercoaster. It wasn’t one big catastrophe that put me on this ride; it was a series of little events that didn’t seem to matter much until suddenly I’m dropping sixteen stories at what feels like the speed of light. And I’m scared to death because I know I can’t count on a happily-ever-after-ending in real life.
I was in mid-free-fall when I realized that just as I could slip into a story someone else had written when my reality was too much to bear, I could also slip away into a story of my own. Why not? Either way, I was using my imagination to comfort and protect me. And guess what? My word count increased overnight. Instead of avoiding my computer, I was looking to it for comfort. Yes, at first I had a hard time maintaining my concentration for a long period of time. And it took me more time to leave the upset of my reality behind and be able to slip into my story, but eventually I managed to get there and write.
No matter how scary my current thrill ride is, I’m determined to get back on board the sunset cocktail cruise. It’s five o’clock somewhere.