Ii‘m struggling with a scene today. To be honest, I’ve been struggling with it for a week now. Seven days with swords crossed. Seven days and counting.

It’s a critical scene: the final part of the opening sequence of scenes that establishes the characters, themes, plot, setting, and so forth of the novel. The opening sequence is the DNA of the whole shebang, and this obstinate lump of disorganized fiction is what ties everything together, kind of like The Dude’s rug, and launches the book into the main story. I’ve done all the right things: quoted Hemingway (“The first draft of anything is shit”) and Stephen King (“The scariest moment is always just before you start”) to myself, free-written, outlined, sacrificed a goat, and given myself permission for the scene to suck. (I give myself that permission whenever I go at the first draft of anything.) But for some reason, permission is not enough tonight and I’m fearing writing the stupid thing. The scene is overwhelming and it knows it and it’s just sitting there on my laptop screen, green and gooey and drooling, snarling and making fun of me.

There’s a fire in the fireplace. It’s almost gone out. When it’s done burning, I’ll head to bed. I have all day tomorrow to write. All the stuff that will eventually make up this scene is on the page: a chaotic malestrom of disjointed words, notes, and ideas. So the page is not empty. I’ve got that going for me. The good news is that I’ve been here before. I’ve written garbage and shaped it into something beautiful. So despite the current frustration, I remain optimistic. With some luck, and a little gunga galunga…gunga-gunga lagunga, I’ll receive total consciousness in my sleep and get this knocked into shape by tomorrow night.