Open Wounds

Eureka – Heureka! (I have found it!)

Archimedes is taking a bath and he notices the level of the water raises when he steps – in so discovering that the volume of irregular objects could be calculated with precision (Wikipedia, List of Greek Phrases). He was so excited he ran out into the street, naked and dripping, shouting, “I have found it!”

I was never good at math so the volume of water thing is beyond me (though I can do budgets – work budgets, not home ones as my wife will remind me). But there are moments in writing when something clicks in your work and you want to run out of your home, naked, dripping wet, and shout, “I have found it!” or “Eureka!”

After my seventh attempt at writing an ending to Open Wounds I outlined my whole novel on electronic index cards (in Scrivener), noting the characters who were in each chapter, the purpose of each chapter (what needed to happen), and one sentence synopsis. I spread out the cards across my screen and stared at them for three months.

One day I saw it – the ending that had eluded me for so long. And it was right, and good.

I didn’t run out into the street naked as that would have caused a bit of a scene, and it was winter. But I did have on my phiz a huge shit-eating grin for about a week.

– If drooling counts as dripping wet, then I covered all bases.

When you do have your eureka moment, enjoy it. Allow yourself to be. They don’t happen that often and should be savored so they can get you through the long stretches of hard work in between.

15 responses

  1. I think all writers enjoy Eureka moments. We jump up and down for a bit then celebrate by sitting back down and using our Eureka idea on our stories. 🙂
    Great A-Z post!

    April 5, 2012 at 12:50 pm

    • Glad you liked the post and thanks for the comment! Best- Joe

      April 5, 2012 at 4:22 pm

  2. The ending to Open Wounds was perfect.
    And I am glad that staring at stuff for a long time works.
    I look forward to my Eureka! moment.

    April 5, 2012 at 4:16 pm

    • Usually staring at stuff for a long time just puts me to sleep but when my head hits the computer screen or the desk, great things can happen!

      April 5, 2012 at 4:23 pm

  3. There is always a solution. Thanks for your inspiring post!

    Here from the A-Z Challenge. 🙂

    April 5, 2012 at 5:49 pm

  4. Just saw Cheryl Rainfield in your subject list – I’m also a fan of her and of her work. Neat-o.

    April 5, 2012 at 5:51 pm

    • Cheryl and I shared the same first publisher and I was lucky enough to spend some time with her at ALA last year. She is one good writer and a really wonderful person. Nice to meet you and thanks for stopping by. – Joe

      April 5, 2012 at 7:18 pm

  5. I am using Scrivener for my WIP (will be blogging about it during the challenge) – still getting to grips with it but can see how it gave you that moment. I’m hoping to keep my clothes on but may run down the street ;o)

    Hope you have many more moments.

    April 5, 2012 at 6:07 pm

    • I love, love, love Scrivener. But… have only gone through half of the tutorial and want so much to find a classroom training (I learn better that way). Oh for the old days of manuals you could hold in your hand and classroom training. Grrr. Nice to meet you and I’ll be stopping by your site to see what tricks you’ve learned! Best – Joe

      April 5, 2012 at 7:21 pm

  6. I’ve never really had one of those. I think I’m too much of an uptight outliner. I can’t even begin writing unless I know where everything is going. That’s probably the gist of my problem.

    April 6, 2012 at 7:02 am

    • I don’t think it’s a problem – it’s your process. And if your process works for you (and having read your book I think it does very sucessfully) then it just means the type of eureka moment you have is different. Process doesn’t have to be sexy or dangerous to be good. It just has to work in helping your develop your kick-ass story.

      April 6, 2012 at 7:47 am

      • That’s a fair point. I suppose my Eureka moment was when the idea for a story burgeoned into something I felt was worthy of an entire outline. Because I’d had ideas before, but nothing I’d every actually dove into.

        April 6, 2012 at 7:49 am

      • I’ve listened to writers talk in glowing terms about the wonderful mystery of writing without a net (outline) and just moving forward through the subconscious finding story as they go. Great if it works for you. But everyone has their own process in writing. Outlining is no less hard or challenging. It’s just different. Finding an idea that creates a tapestry of world such as you have done that will unfold over what will probably ultimately be thousands of pages, is a pretty awesome (awesomesauce from K. Pelfry) moment.

        April 6, 2012 at 7:56 am

      • Sauce is definitely awesome. And yeah, I agree. Pantsing a novel sounds absolutely impossible to me, but people do it, and some of them do it very well. Outlining is just something I have to do. It comes naturally. And sometimes it’s very basic. I mean I’m working on something new, and the outline is only like ten sentences. Just ten simple scenes that I know must happen at some point along the way.

        April 6, 2012 at 8:01 am

      • On the book I’m working on now I started with the same thing – about ten spots to hit. Paralell process. It keeps me on course in the beginning when I’m searching and look up to see where the hell I am.

        April 6, 2012 at 8:25 am

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