Bridge Blues

Let’s face it, writing can be a roller-coaster ride. One day you’re up, another you’re down. One day things are going well, the next you’re plunged in a writing rut so deep you think you’ll never get out. Sound familiar? Well, if you’re feeling a bit undone about all these highs and lows, then take heart: It’s all part of the creative territory we’re traversing. And even the most accomplished writers go through exactly the same thing.

Consider Thornton Wilder, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Bridge of San Luis Rey — one of my all-time favorites. Recently, I came across a very revealing sequence of comments about The Bridge in The Selected Letters of Thornton Wilder. Take a look:

Here’s a moment when things are going well:
“The important thing is that The Bridge is getting along fast and is just filling up with beautiful passages…”

Then he hits a slump, followed by a breakthrough:
“…just when I thought I was frozen over and the Bridge would never be finished, for lack of notions, suddenly I went to a performance of the Ninth Symphony…and was all broke up. I came home and wrote the pages you will someday know as the death of Manuel…and I’ve been writing ever since.”

Then he finishes his novel, but feels it won’t succeed:
“The Bridge is far better than the other, but it is so sad, not to say: harrowing, that I doubt whether it finds as many readers as the other. There is a faint chance that its very earnestness may strike right into the need of a large number…”

What’s our takeaway from all Thorny’s trials and tribulations? I think there are three: 1) every author experiences writing highs and lows — let’s all relax about this; 2) a major slump can be followed by a huge surge of creativity; and 3) even someone who’s written a masterpiece can have serious doubts about its appeal and enduring value. So let’s all take heart — and write on!

About karinwritesdangerously

I am a writer and this is a motivational blog designed to help both writers and aspiring writers to push to the next level. Key themes are peak performance, passion, overcoming writing roadblocks, juicing up your creativity, and the joys of writing.
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