Brigadoon Keeps Me Writing

On the outside, writing in the perfect gig. We make our own hours, we don’t have a boss breathing down our necks, and in theory, we can get paid forever for one project (yay, royalties). Best part–no pants.

But every dream job has its down side. Maybe you have to squeeze in your writing before the sun rises and you have to trot off to the day job, maybe you have three toddlers smearing jam on the wall, or maybe you are surrounded by people who don’t understand this fascination with putting words on the page.

Writing is isolating. Hours spent alone struggling to find the perfect word take a toll. We doubt ourselves a lot. We wonder why we do it, because life would be so much easier if we gave up. We’d have more time to actually read or spend time with our families or talk to real people. There are days when you tell yourself this is not the path you want to take.

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Just like we all have our albatrosses, we also have that thing that keeps us coming back. The elusive but oh-so-intoxicating Brigadoon of writer joys. For each of us it’s different. Maybe it’s writing The End after a first draft, maybe it’s the thrill of that perfect metaphor, maybe it’s the unending possibilities of a blank page.

My Brigadoon exists in revisions.

It’s that moment when a flat character bursts into 3D, you finally know why he is the way he is. It happens when I least expect it, like he’s whispering all his truths into my ear.

I had that moment this weekend. I’ve been struggling with a character’s motivation, so much so, that I was tempted to leave him as a shallow character-a foil for the more complicated people around him. As I was reworking a scene, I had him revealing a bit of his history. As I typed the words onto the page, everything clicked. It was euphoric. He finally went from cliche to nuanced. He had motivation, secrets, and depth.

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And it’s that moment, and there aren’t that many, that keep me coming back for more, that bring me to the page when the story feels flat.I have hope if I keep putting my butt in the chair, I’ll find that moment again–my writer Brigadoon.

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Amy Reichert

Amy E. Reichert is the author of THE COINCIDENCE OF COCONUT CAKE (Simon & Schuster/Gallery, July 21 2015), about food, love, and second chances, and where serendipity comes in the form of a delicious coconut cake. Find out more at amyereichert.com.

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