Postcards From Camp: You Can’t Get There From Here

I may have mentioned this a few (million) times, but I am from Maine. In addition to the lobsters, blueberries, moose, and tourists, we have an expression: You can’t get there from here. Said, of course, in a Maine accent.

(Yes, there is a Maine accent. Search for “Bert & I Which Way To Millinocket” on YouTube for a slightly exaggerated-for-comedic-effect example. There are other Bert & I stories, too, but the Millinocket one contains the ‘you can’t get there from here’ line.)

Anyway, ‘you can’t get there from here’ essentially means there’s no easy, direct path between two places. Sure, you can get to Millinocket, but it’ll involve some back roads, dirt roads, a whole lot of road construction, and probably some potholes big enough and deep enough for a great blue whale to swim in. Amongst other challenges.

And that, in a nutshell, is how I’m feeling about this damn WIP of mine these days.

I know where I am. I know where I want to go. But there does not seem to be any damn path to connect the two.

I keep trying things, throwing ideas against the wall—sometimes literally because I have an uncontrollable Post-It Note addiction—trying to figure out how to close the gap. I gain inches, only to lose feet.

One path was rejected because one of my characters said, “I thought you would make this more interesting. Are you even trying?”

Now, she wasn’t talking to me. She was talking to one of the main characters, but it felt very much like she was talking to me. So much so that I scrapped the storyline and went back to Square One.

In theory, each rejected path gets me closer to figuring out the actual right path, but I would be lying if I didn’t say that I am seriously questioning my ability to…well, to do anything, frankly, but mostly my ability to write an ending for this book.

But here’s hoping that I’m wrong, and that my next post will be the sure-to-be thrilling tale of how I managed to get there from here.

Camp Stats

Word Count Goal: 20,000

Where my WC should be: 13,545

Where my WC actually is: 28,705

Average words per day: 1,435

Rejected storylines: Too many to count

13 Commentsto Postcards From Camp: You Can’t Get There From Here

  1. Maybe where you are trying to get to isn’t the real ending?

  2. Jemi Fraser says:

    Arghhh!!! It’s so frustrating when the story refused to cooperate with your vision! Keep exploring those paths – one of them is the right one. Good luck!!!

  3. OK, I will be the voice of reason here. I want to say, “You’re doing great–what the f*** are you w**** about?” but lets look at some facts: You have three well-received books out there, with great ratings (people love them). One was published barely a year ago. You are an accomplished writer that seems to have an out-of-control muse. From where I sit, you’re where so many writers I know wish they were!

  4. Kate says:

    This is one of the reasons I always write my endings really early on. That way no matter where my story wanders off to, I have somewhere to aim for. Maybe try writing the final scene you imagine for this book before you write any more. Then you aim for that.

    • M.J. Fifield says:

      I tried that. I wanted to try reverse engineering this thing and got stuck around the same place. I just have this quagmire I need to figure out how to navigate.

  5. J E Oneil says:

    Keep plugging away at it! I know it’s exhausting, but I also know you’ll never let yourself give up.

  6. Liz A. says:

    What happened to that fourth book idea? Tossed? Because, maybe…

    It’s time to take a step back and not think about the book for a while. You’ve been beating your head against a wall trying to figure this out for so long you’re not letting things just be. Sometimes you have to let the story breathe so the new idea can float in.

    You’ll get it. It’ll come to you. But just not right now. Soon, probably, but just not right now.

    • M.J. Fifield says:

      The fourth book idea has not been tossed. It’s still kicking around, and I still think I’ll have to write it (even though I still really don’t want to). I am wondering, however, if it maybe doesn’t start where or how I thought it would.

  7. I often run into a similar feeling around the 75% mark. I also have to fight the urge to go back and revise what I’ve already written instead of slogging my way to the end and THEN picking up revisions.

    • M.J. Fifield says:

      I would LOVE to slog my way to the end and then fix things in post. I do it all the time! I don’t know why I’m having such a hard time with it now.

  8. I feel your pain. Somewhat. Since I’m a panster, I generally have no idea how my story will go until I write it, but because of that also, I often stump myself and have to backtrack.