I’m sure there must be writers who enjoy writing synopses, but I have never met one. When the subject of synopsis comes up, usually there is an accompanying groan. Still, most of us have learned the value of some sort of synopsis or outline.
My process is this: having now written, and rewritten quite a number of times, three solid chapters of my new book project, I know well my characters–so well that I adore them. To proceed, it is time for me to write a synopsis of the story, sometimes detailed, sometimes a bare outline.
I geared up with a strong cup of tea, notes I had been making, post-it notes (I often find it helpful to put key scenes on them) and claimed a Friday as my own. Bigstreetrod took breakfast and grandson duty. Cowgirl up, I told myself.
Well. Despite the good intentions and best attempts, by evening all I had accomplished was a big mess on what amounted to two computer pages of disjointed thoughts, plus a messy yellow tablet page and two post-it notes. I don’t think there was a full coherent sentence in any of it.
Fuming and fretting, and near tears, I set my computer aside and pretty well stomped around, preparing for bed and carrying on quite a conversation with God about my situation: “It has been this way my entire writing life! Maybe I should just give it up. And look at this house…I just never get anywhere…all those pictures are still stacked in my office…I can’t get anything framed for the wall…the closet needs painting…I’ve got to get my taxes organized…we still can’t move in the spare room…and that bathroom…
Basically, it was all that I wasn’t where I wanted to be in my creative life–not to mention my home life.
“Enjoy where you are on the way to where you’re going.” ~ Joyce Meyer
The above thought–“Enjoy where you are on the way to where you’re going.”–came as a still, small voice, with a chuckle, I am sure of it. Images passed across my mind, seeing my whole life flash before me, seeing my life forward and backward at once. I saw suddenly, and clearly, how much I keep falling into striving for some distant tomorrow where everything will be complete and perfect. The day I get the synopsis finished, and beautifully, perfectly. The day the book is done. The day I have my office decorated as I wish, the closets organized and room made for everything, the day my vision of the renovated bathroom comes to life. The day I am perfectly patient and always know the right thing to say and to write.
For heavensake. I had forgotten–don’t despise where I am this moment. Someday I’ll look back, as I’m doing these days, and see the glory of right here and now, synopsis or no synopsis, put-together house or no put-together house. Where I’m at right now is good and fine, and what really matters.
It is Julia Cameron who wrote: “The attention to final form ignores the fact that creativity lies not in the done but in the doing.”
The point of power, of creativity, of life itself, is always in the present moment. Living means experiencing the mystery and magic and messiness of creating.
Saturday morning, Bigstreetrod again made breakfast, and I leisurely got a good cup of Ceylon tea, came up to my computer and said, “Well, Lord, let’s see what comes out.” Delight and excitement had replaced dread.
I’d like to say that in one hour I jotted out an entire basic synopsis. No, that didn’t happen. But forty-five minutes later, when Bigstreetrod called for me to come to breakfast, I had enjoyed the doing, which had involved frustration, mystery, and the joy of the process.
And when I closed the computer, there was a clear storyline paragraph on the page, with two more in-depth paragraphs following. I am quite certain that what came out on the page was also built upon all the frustrated mess of what I had scribbled the previous day.
I’m on my way…and I won’t turn back. And I’m on my way…and I won’t turn back. I’m on my way, great God, I’m on my way… ~Peter Yarrow songbook for children.
Most importantly, I am enjoying the process. I’m on my way.
I’ll let you know how it goes.
4 thoughts on “Synopsis in Process”
I have faith that with enough tea and a big yellow tablet, you can accomplish miracles! As I age, I’m finding it takes longer and longer to do less and less. I’m also realizing it doesn’t bother me nearly as much as it used to when I don’t make any progress. Some call it getting lazy, I prefer to see it as becoming content. Take care, stay warm, and keep on writing!
Nola– you are a Wise Woman. Thanks for sharing that wisdom with me and others. Yes, more and more I accept and become content. Life is good.
Sending love, CA
I don’t do anything close to you during your days, but when I feel so overwhelmed and everything looks frustrating to me, I sit for just a very few minutes and think, what first. After that, does it really matter? The major thing for me is if I have a very clean bathroom, everything else is extra. Anyone who comes to visit can see whatever mess I am working on—a project of 150 laprobes by November—but if I have a clean bathroom for them to use, they will probably think the closets and under the sinks, etc. are clean too. I have been so ill since Christmas that nothing has gotten done, but when I first use the bathroom in the morning, I spiff it quickly and it is ‘ready’. I don’t fret about the next step. What gets done, gets done. Of course, I have no deadlines as you do, but sometimes getting through the day is a deadline, right? Just enjoy your journey, it is worth it.
Judy– thank you so much for taking the time to visit and share your wisdom. How very clever of you about the bathroom. I’ve been following the Zones from Flylady, and my shiny sink and clean bathroom make me happy. Thanks for the reminder. I no longer have deadlines looming (except my own), but I think that living with them for twenty-five years left a negative impact that I’m now learning to let go. Prayers for the lap robes! CA