Tuesday, May 13, 2014
Stuck in the Doldrums
I love metaphors, especially nautical ones. There's something about the sea that evokes all sorts of imagery that can so easily be applied to prose to make it more vivid. Like the doldrums, for instance.
In case you didn't know, the doldrums is a colloquial name for the fancy-sounding "Inter Continental Convergence Zone". It's basically an area of low pressure on or near the equator, where the trade winds converge and where the weather can be volatile, varying between dead calm and violent squalls.
Back in the days when boats used only sails for propulsion, getting "stuck in the doldrums" was no fun. Imagine days or even weeks of floating in the middle of the ocean with no idea when you would be able to get moving again. Worse still, the calm might be broken by a violent storm. All of which kind of reminds me of how it feels to be a writer.
I've actually just recently come out of the doldrums. I spent what felt like an age sitting in my boat with nothing to fill my sails while, in the distance all around me, the storms thundered. I tried everything to keep my spirits up, but to no avail. The movement a writer requires just was not there and I had no idea if would ever come.
Which is why I was pleasantly surprised when, just two weeks ago, the desire to write returned. In one week plus a long weekend, I got 15.000 words down. The next week, the total hit 30.000. As of today, I am half-way through the first draft and it has been only three weeks. I am, using the nautical metaphor, sailing "full and by". After so long without moving I feel like I'm flying above the waves rather than ploughing through them.
They key, I think, was the resolution of a number of issues I'm currently going through. Or, if not the resolution, then my ability to deal with them. I can handle one or two big problems, but I've been swamped of late. It also helped that the sequel to my first Alpha novel hit the stores recently. I sometimes find it hard to focus on a new project when I've got one waiting to go. (In case you're interested, Alpha Revelation is available at all popular online bookstores, including Amazon).
Do you ever find yourself in the doldrums? If so, what puts you there and how do you get out?