The Girl Who loved Tom Gordon, a modern fairy tale by Stephen King, is also a good parable for writers. It tells the story of nine-year-old Trisha McFarland straying from a hiking path and getting lost in the woods.
She is tormented by insects, tested by the elements, trailed by a mysterious beast, and learns that “the world has teeth.” An archetypal survival tale if ever there was one.
So what does being lost in the woods have to do with writing? Everything. The protagonist finds herself in the vast unknown, “a place where the rules she was used to no longer applied.” There was no outline for plotting a course out of the woods. No instruction manual on survival.
In writing, do you always come full circle and end up where you started? Or do you get lost among the trees in the forest, chasing one rabbit trail after another…
Until you lose sight of where you are, as I did when writing a novel once – which I finally managed to finish after five years of hunting jackrabbits.
Of course writing the novel was never about fame or fortune – thank God - but about proving to myself that it could be done – and done well. It was about surviving the wilderness without a compass. About finding my way through the woods and coming out on the other side alive.
Then comes the time for pitching to an agent and/or publisher. I sent the first fifty pages to the former, the entire 350 page manuscript to the latter. Long story short: rejection from both. But it never deterred me from continuing to navigate my way through forests dark and deep.
The Right/Left Brain Fusion
I’ve recently been studying right/left brain characteristics. Right brainers see the forest first, then the trees. The big picture, then the details. They are masters at creating, but losers at innovation.
They finish books, then hide them in manuscript boxes in closets and move on to the next artistic project without having sold their finished products…
Because when it comes to taking care of business and coming up with a selling strategy, their left brain seems to be in a coma. What to do, what to do? Remain a starving artist forever?
Some folks are apparently adept at exiting the forest alive and getting their survival story out there. Those most likely to find success with their creative ventures are switch hitters…
You might be a switch hitter if you know how to shift gears from the right-brain creation mode to a left-brain innovation focus when you reach that juncture… Like a gifted baseball player who can hit the ball with his right or left hand, depending on the pitcher’s angle.
Are you left brain dominant or right brain dominant?
Or have you succeeded in becoming a switch hitter?
If you aren’t sure, and would like to take the quiz before answering, go ahead, I’ll wait.