When the right words don't come and writing is torture - Man Tou to help wile away the stress

Oh what a strange week I've had. Well, not strange, per se, but it wasn't what I had planned or envisioned. After finishing off my Blood Trilogy, even though the third and final book still needs to go through line edits and a couple of final re-reads before I tackle the formatting for it to be publish ready, I was quite eager to get back to my Arthurian saga, as I'm one volume off from having it completed. Not that it's publishing ready, this is one work I am keeping for next year. But I was really eager to get back to it and take up the story where I left it, spin it further, immerse myself in those characters. I was eager to do that, and as Monday came round, it was with wide-eyed wonder and itchy fingers that I opened the doc and settled down to write. But nothing came. Nothing. Came.

It was the strangest thing! I had - still have! - the whole story in my head, ready to be written, but words refused to come, the right words, the proper ones. Everybody and their mother says first drafts are not supposed to be perfect, and one must not wait for the "perfect words" to come, well, I beg to differ. A first draft MUST be perfect, in the moment you're writing it. The right words need to come, as in those must be the right words for that moment, in order to get you going and start typing away, lost to the world, eager to get that story out and into paper - or screen, as it happens. This needs to happen, or else I'm just wasting my time, and that's basically all I did. For three days, I wasted my time putting down words I knew were completely innapropriate, approaching the storyline in a most improper way, one I was aware I would later end up getting rid of, with not a single line to be salvaged. This, for me, is a waste of time, and it is not how I work, actually, I can't work like this. If writing those words is akin to torture, then they are the wrong words and I must not write them.

Make no mistake, when I start re-reading - usually straight after I finish writing for the day - I will change a lot of what I penned down that day, and every single re-read and edit will have me changing words and lines and the way the story goes. My first drafts aren't perfect, nor supposed to be. But when I get down to work on that first draft, the words I put down at that time HAVE to be the perfect words for that moment, the ones that sweep me away. If I'm just jotting down crap like "this character here does this and says that and moves like this wand thinks like that", it doesn't work for me. We all have our writing methods and what works for us, mine is this: words have to be perfect for me to be immersed into my writing. If I find myself struggling with the words I'm writing, this means they're wrong and I must not force it. But it's so frustrating when you want to write a story and your mindset is not quite there! It's so frustrating when you want to push on with your work but can't find it in you do do a proper day's work! This was how the week was going for me. Every line was basically crap and a torment to put down. Words did not come at all.

See, I wasn't back to Camelot, despite finding myself inside Avalon Hall - like I said before, some of the characters on the Blood Trilogy interlope with my Arthurian saga, they're present in both. When I closed my eyes it was still Marcus and Caius I was thinking of, not Artuír or Mordred. I wasn't back to this story, still clinging to the previous one, I needed to sever myself from it. Like breaking up a relationship, it is. Some are easy to do, others take a bit longer. I wasn't ready to say goodbye to my Nilsson twins yet. It was a messy break up, I think, and closure was not at hand - insert laughter. But I finally managed. One morning I sat down, and Artuír's wedding to Gwenwhyfar just flew out my fingertips. Morganne's delivery of Mordred into Morien's treacherous hands came out easily. Galahad's love for his king made it's subtle appearance in how he was ready to step aside from his passion just so the man he most admired could find solace in a woman he did not love. It was all there, and with the right words. There's a whole chapter I will have to delete, because I wasted three days writing something I knew was absolutely wrong for this story, in a tone that was not the correct one, with all the wrong words in it, but at least I was back there, in this story, with these characters.

I don't know how long it's going to take me finishing this series, but I know I'm on the right path now. I hope to have it done by the end of July, early August, as I leave for my hols, but seeing my son is off from school in a week's time, I'm aware writing consistently will be difficult with him around. But I'm eager to put the story to paper, to get closure on this too. See, I already have a new story stretching its tendrils into my imagination. I even started a new Pinterest board with inspirational images for this new story. And I want to get to it. But this won't be like the Blood Trilogy, where I can press hold on my Arthurian saga to get it out of the way, because those were novellas. No, this new idea is something that needs a bit of work, a bit of study, a bit pf pondering. Long hours making up plots and storylines in my head. And for that, I must be free from all else, namely, no persky Yseult barking up my tree, no heartbroken Morganne, no power crazed Morgause, no love stricken Artuír and especially no envious Mordred seeking revenge on a naïve Emrys. Those voices need to be silent for me to focus on this new idea. And the only way to do it, is let them bleedn out from my hands into the screen. Which I will be doing presently.

And to help fuel me along, nothing better than Man Tou. I'm positively addicted to this, I must confess. My husband makes the most delicious Man Tous I've ever tasted, and I could gobble down a whole platter of them. But then I'd roll, not walk, so I try to be wise and partake of one, two at the most, which isn't easy. If you try them, I'm pretty sure you'll understand what I mean. Here's how to:
  • 10 gr fresh yeast
  • 125 ml water
  • 250 gr flour
  • 20 gr sugar
  • 1/2 tsp oil - sesame works fine here
Dissolve the yeast and sugar in the water, then mix the flour, oil and water together until you have a coarse dough. Knead to the point it's become silky and elastic, and let it rest for five minutes. On a floured surface, with the help of a rolling pin, roll the dough into a rectangle, then fold into three (first fold one third length wise, then the other third over this one, like folding a letter.) Roll the pin over it again and brush the top of it with water. Now you want to make a roll out of this dough, as you do for scones, then with a cutter divide it into eight to ten portions. Place this chunky portions on cut squares of baking parchement and place them on bamboo steamers, or any kind of steamer, really. Allow to rise for twenty minutes, then steam them for fifteen to twenty minutes. You can serve them just steamed, of fry them off on hot oil, which honestly I prefer. They go great with sticky pork ribs or dunking oriental sauces. Addictive, they are!!


  1. Writing is SO incredibly hard. I don't know how you do it!
    But I can see how these would help you get inspired again. the perfect combo of dough and salty sauce and sesame oil.
    Now hoping the words will come in floods.
    Big hug, K

  2. I'm so glad you're on a good track again! How wonderful to feel the words flow. :-)

  3. I agree that the first draft doesn’t have to be perfect, but totally understand where you’re coming from when you say you can’t find the right words to start writing. It happens to me too.

    1. well, finally someone gets what I mean ahahahh, I was sooooo frustrated with everyone harping on about first draft not having to be perfect and I unable to explain what I meant and why I was struggling. For a writer, I do have a hard time with words, and can't quite explain my meaning in ways that satisfy me or make others understand what I'm talking about...


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