Through the Maze
As a child, I loved working my way through fun activity books, ones with colour-by-numbers or dot-to-dots. If I followed the instructions, a completed picture would emerge. Seeing my efforts come to fruition was such a thrill.
My all-time favourites were the MAZES! Helping Fido find his bone, or helping the lost bunny find his way home was more than fun; it was satisfying. I confess I rigorously planned the route in my head before my pencil touched the page, so I wouldn’t end up drawing messy detours.
Those fun activities reinforced important life lessons, like the wisdom of following directions, the blessing of assisting others, and the value of planning. These principles have helped me negotiate life with satisfaction and some success. They inform my efforts and habits as a writer.
Writing, like many of life’s activities, can be fun, but it is not always child’s play. At times, connecting the dots is complicated and messy. Putting the ‘right’ colours in the ‘right’ places doesn’t always work out, especially when numbers are missing, or your green felt-pen runs dry halfway through the leaves. Fido bites your finger on the way to his bone. Or, like Alice in Wonderland, you chase the bunny and fall down a rabbit hole into a whole world of confusing encounters and unexpected challenges.
When it comes to life’s mazes, some walls are so high, planning the route is impossible. Dead ends leave you backtracking, or stuck in a corner, puzzled, stunned, confused and exhausted. Where’s the fun in that?
During the seven-plus years (!) of writing, editing, and upskilling so I could indie publish my debut novel, Licence to Die (GRUnGE.001), I’ve had plenty to hinder my writing progress. Midway, I had major surgery, with complications that injured my brain and left me with ‘neural neglect’, a condition where my brain lost contact with some of the nerves on the left side of my body. Two weeks after that, I discovered my left wrist was broken (how did that happen?).
I spent months stuck in a confusing maze, struggling to link the simplest of thoughts together; the big picture eluded me completely. I found myself thinking thoughts like … I don’t have to write. No-one’s making me. I could just … stop.
Then again, where’s the fun in that?
Writing may not be child’s play, but it does bring joy and satisfaction. Writing creates images with words. It orders our thinking and colours our world. It helps us connect the dots when it comes to important issues of life, faith, purpose and destiny. Writing helps us make sense of the journey, keeps us on track, and moves us forward. When we write right, we help our readers enjoy these things too.
Pushing onward through that frustrating maze produced surprising results for me too. Continuing to write whilst also developing new design and technology skills, helped rewire my brain, creating new pathways where ideas could flow. I reviewed my novel with fresh eyes and perspective and actually enjoyed giving it an overhaul. Although the messiness of life hindered my progress and satisfaction for a time, it also gave me breathing space, and permission to go easy on myself for a while. Most importantly, it reminded me that writing truly is worthwhile. And … it’s fun!