I am becalmed. I know this spot from previous long writing projects. Nothing like the exciting beginning when the ideas cascade and occupy most of the mental bandwidth. Nothing like the surprise at the end when you type a sentence and as you look at it, it dawns on you that you have arrived at the denouement.
No. The mid-latitudes of a book force the writer to deal with the early creative decisions — in character development, plot, setting, voice — that now midway through reveal the many ways in which they constrain the story. It’s like building a box around yourself and hoping you have an exit strategy.
The horse latitudes describe a grim reality of sailors in the region 30 degrees north and south of the equator where the winds die to nothing and can stay that way for weeks on end. I have always hoped it was apocryphal, the story that New World explorers becalmed in this zone threw their horses overboard to conserve drinking water for the humans. It’s here where some of my best big creative ideas may need to be jettisoned to make the story better.
Me and my writer friends, we commiserate about this stage. We acknowledge the tedium. We affirm our dream to finish the project. We assign ourselves word counts. We don’t have to like every word. We just have to get the next sentence on the page.
I am at 33,000 words of a book that may go to 80,000, best guess. At first my excitement buoyed and carried me. Now it’s time to bring some discipline to my game, knowing from previous projects that creative winds will return.