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donaldcarreiraching.wordpress.com; my debut novel is available online at Bamboo Ridge Press (http://goo.gl/wfycwG), SPD (http://goo.gl/Qdu18P), and Amazon (http://goo.gl/B8XbCf).

On the bus back from Cambridge

Posted by BETWEENWATERSUNSEEN
Saturday, June 04, 2016 1:12 AM


Recently, I’ve been struggling with that all too familiar enemy—the blank page. But it’s not the first sentence or the first paragraphs that get the better of me, it’s the page or pages that follow. So I do what I usually do, what we’ve all been taught or told to do, brainstorming and mapping and taking breaks to eat or shower or Facebook to try and draw the story out. While this usually works, albeit sometimes not for several days or weeks, this time I haven’t been as fortunate. Instead, I’m left with saved files that still bear the first sentence as their titles, or worse the ones that received a title but not much else.

This is the process, I know that, but at the same time I’m always wondering if perhaps this is it. I’ve worked hard, been lucky, and put out work that I can be proud of. If I never write another story, it’s cool. I’ve always been interested in art, drawing or found art and installations. Design. Architecture.

But if you’ve ever felt like this (and I imagine that most of us if not all of have at some point, even if you don’t write), you know that the stories keep finding you, and so you go back to the keys, trying to work out exactly what the story is and how to tell it. Maybe you figure it out, find the sculpture in the clay, maybe you don’t. Either way, you keep working. That’s what writing is after all—work. People (or me if you’ve read my other blog posts) will tell you that it’s about wildfire gasps of breath and glimpses of bone, discovery and curiosity and other poetic hyperbole, but really it’s the work that leads to all of that.

And so I keep wondering at what point the work will give way, or if it won’t, what am I doing wrong or what am I missing?

It wasn’t until about a week ago that I figured it out what it was. I was sitting on a bus on my way back to London, watching the countryside subside to the city sprawl. That day, I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to read and talk about my novel with a small group at Cambridge University. It was the first time that I formally read from the book, and really the first time that I had formally discussed it at length with anyone besides Darrell and Eric in some time. The irony is that aside from my host, no one in the room knew much about Hawai`i and so in addition to discussing my work, I also found myself talking about what it was like growing up there, some of the issues that are going on, and other authors that they could check out if they wanted to learn more. An hour or so later and we almost missed our ride home. Their interest was piqued and so was mine. It had been awhile since I had spoken so passionately about a topic, especially one that I had grown so comfortable with, and on that bus ride back I realized why so many of the pieces that I had been working on had ended up getting filed away. I was forcing myself to write about topics and subjects that I felt no connection to, trying to write stories that I was interested in but didn’t care about.

It’s funny. I was hoping that my trip away from Hawai`i would help me to push beyond the island that I grew up on. Instead, eight months later, it’s helped me to realize just how big a place it is and how many stories there are left to tell. I’m not sure what my next one will be, but there will be a next one, and I’m good with that.

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