Just the other day, Facebook was good enough to remind me (through the “You have memories on this day!” feature) that I started writing Town Man, Country Man in June 2013. I wrote it fairly quickly until it came to a rather hard stop a few months later in October. That was around the time Half the World Away was released, but more significantly, it was also two months into grad school and I just did not have the mental energy to write fiction.
Aside from sheer brainpower, one thing that drew me up fast on TMCM’s progress was getting to a turning point and then having absolutely no clue how to move passed it into resolution. A part of that was attributable capacity, yes. One thing that people really don’t often get about writing is the time is takes to allow one’s mind to ‘sink’ into the headspace of the story and characters – how often do you suppose part-time or personal-time-only writers hear how they could allocate an hour every night after dinner to just writing…?
When I picked up this manuscript from digital ‘current projects’ folder about a year ago, I read it straight through, having forgotten rather a lot of what I’d enjoyed about it while writing, and I was genuinely disappointed that there wasn’t more when I got to the end. I wanted to read more! So I bumped Josh and Ben to the top of the rota and started combing through again to see what areas could use fleshing out and propping up and also trying to find a resolution.
The little visual image for the ending came from a fellow literature aficionado, my friend Arthur, mixologist extraordinaire. We’ve talked about different books and films and music and plays and current affairs countless times whenever I stop in for dinner and drinks. When I mentioned the manuscript and talked about the plot, he threw out not an “ending” but just a snapshot of a scene that came to mind, and just that was enough for me to head home, nail it down, and build the rest of the denouement and conclusion around it. So there’s a writing tip – if you’re stuck, bounce ideas off someone else who has great taste in the arts!
Oddly enough, that only occurred by the time grad school was done and dusted. I have to say that the coursework in Social Administration wasn’t particularly challenging in itself, but the jumping through hoops with administrative (ha…) details and communication was a serious war of attrition for me. That, coupled with not feeling like I had the time to put into intentional story-crafting, was difficult. Writing, for me as for many others, is a labor of love but also distraction that lets me not dwell on all the various things I can’t actually work on or finish or control the pace of – I find it much easier to finish a project all at once, weeks ahead of a deadline, than waiting for further information or input… group projects in grad school are every bit as bad as in high school!
When those two stressors got stirred in with a bunch of other little, complicated, unaddressed issues, it started to get overwhelming and paralyzing. Freeze response started turning into a vicious little cycle and I found myself not wanting to do anything but bunker in. Which made me convinced that somebody, somewhere was surely mad at my lack of communication… which only made me want to hide even more. Fortunately before that could get too ground in, I decided to do something about it – there again, bouncing ideas off someone else when you’re stuck is really helpful.
Of course, I still didn’t have a whole lot of time for figuring out big stuff like plots, and I definitely still wanted a fair amount of insulation, but knocking out some little vignettes just for myself at least made me feel like I was still capable of stringing words together. And once I was done with coursework, I was ready to hop back into a manuscript that had been waiting.
Sometimes, life gets in the way of writing. It’s up to us to manage our lives accordingly, and sometimes the writing has to sit aside for a little bit. The nice thing is, stories don’t have expiration dates. They will be there when you are ready and able to get back to them. And sometimes the stories actually need that time to rest as much as you do.
Town Man, Country Man
“Town man” Josh Douglass meets “country man” Ben Bauer at a mutual friend’s wedding, and passion kindles immediately. As urbanite wedding planner Josh and closeted contractor Ben spend more time together, they develop a deep, comfortable romance despite the fifty miles between their homes—and despite the drastic differences in their lifestyles. But as they grow closer, it becomes apparent that Josh and Ben have been enjoying the first flush of love without giving much thought to longer-term logistics.
A crisis leads Josh to ask himself serious questions about how his relationship with Ben can realistically work. But just as Josh is feeling ready to talk about the next step with Ben, a misunderstanding threatens to put an end to their love affair. Compromise is the key to any relationship, but it isn’t always easy to balance careers, friendships, and family expectations. Josh and Ben just need to see that bringing together the best of both their worlds is well worth the sacrifices they’ll have to make to remain in each other’s lives.
Jessica Skye Davies
Author page: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/authors/jessica-skye-davies-264