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 dark night of the soul moments at all costs. I don't want to buy a ticket to ride that rollercoaster. I plot and plan to put my own characters on that rollercoaster 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 rollercoaster-free. I want my life to be a gentle boat ride like "It's A Small World" at Disneyland, only without the annoying earworm of a song.
While I'm on the gentle boat ride portion of my life, my writing is smooth sailing. In fact it's a little like a sunset cocktail cruise. Only there's no sunset and no cocktails --unless it's after five o'clock somewhere. 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 getting on life's rollercoaster. It's inevitable. Sure, it's all fun and games and Instagram selfies going up the hill, but the minute I'm going down at a fast rate of speed, my writing goes into complete upheaval. My word count slows down to a halt. At the first sign of strife, or a change in my schedule causes me to have a hard time even sitting down in the same room as my computer.
For the last few weeks, I have been screaming on the downhill slope of life's 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 on the rollercoaster dropping sixteen stories at what feels like the speed of light. My stomach drops out and I'm scared to death because I know I can't count on a happily ever after ending in real life.
I was dropping fast on the downhill slope 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.
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. Eventually I managed to get into it and write.
I'm determined to get back on the cocktail cruise, no matter what ride I'm on.