By Lori Mortensen
All right--I admit it. Sometimes, I tie myself up in a mental knot over a story that I’m working on. Somehow the forces of the universe converge in my brain, and in my mind, my manuscript has to be the best darn story ever.
So, of course, my mind clogs up like hair down the drain. I try in fits and starts and my words may dribble along for a little while, but all along I’m telling myself that it’s missing something. The important something. It’s fundamentally flawed and it’ll never be the story I want it to be. My mojo has left the building and it’s never coming back. How long does it last?
But I know I can get my momentum back if I just dig into the literary sand and push back the wave of doubt and discouragement that has crept up like a unsuspecting fog. I tell myself that this is just one story. One story. There will be others. Lots of others. When I finish this one, I’ll move onto the next and it’ll be better than ever. I tell myself to write the story I want to read. (That usually starts my heart flickering back to life. What fun to write a story that I want to read.) I tell myself it isn’t brain surgery, for goodness sake. It’s just a story. A story! A story I want to tell.
As I get drawn into the story, there are flashes of inspiration. Dare I say--brilliance? No, no--believing such a thing too early would jinx the whole process, so I’m secretly satisfied with the word, phrase, or feeling that gives me an inner smile that what I’ve just written is just darn good. Yes, it’s coming along now, isn’t it? Hey, this isn’t so bad, I tell myself. If I just keep going, maybe it will blossom into the story I want it to be.
Hour by hour, day by day, I keep at it, and somewhere along the way, my mojo slips back in through a side door, quietly, unobtrusively.
But that’s the way it is with writing. Wonderful words slip in and irresistible characters fight their way to the page while tugging at some inner longing of mine inside.
That’s why I stick with it.
It’s always nice when my mojo is around, but when it’s not, I just keep going.
Lori Mortensen is an award-winning children’s book author of more than 70 books and over 350 stories and articles. A member of SCBWI, Lori is a frequent speaker at schools, SCBWI conferences, and has worked as a writing instructor for the past eight years at the Institute of Children’s Literature. Recent picture book titles include Cowpoke Clyde & Dirty Dawg, (Clarion, 2013), Cindy Moo (HarperCollins, 2012), Come See the Earth Turn – The Story of Léon Foucault (Random House, 2010), and In the Trees, Honey Bees! (Dawn, 2009). To learn more about Lori and her upcoming books, visit her website at www.lorimortensen.com, or read her blog at http://lorimortensen.blogspot.com.
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