Why do they call it floundering? You know what I mean. That point in a project (or maybe your life) where you’re struggling. Struggling to finish it, struggling to find the point. Going from one thing to another with no real clear mark to shoot for.
I’m at that stage with this latest short story I’m working on. Many pages written; more than half the words I’m allowed for this submission I’m aiming at.
And yet, I’m floundering.
Flitting from one plot point to another. Fiddling with scenes and writing new ones. Wondering how the hell this is all going to turn out. It’s aggravating.
And yet, it’s soothing.
It’s soothing because this seems to be what I do. And the last two stories I wrote were accepted for publication. So, this part of the process is just that, even if it drives me nuts.
But why floundering? are flat fish that live on the bottom of the sea. Their main claim to fame is the cool science fact that one of their eyes migrate from one side of their heads to the other, so they’re both on the same side once the fish reach adulthood. Neat, huh? They can also blend in really well with the sea floor, making it easier to snag a meal swimming by.
But what I’m doing? I think it’s more akin to something a dolphin with ADD might do (yeah, let’s stick with the ocean animal metaphor as long as we can manage). For me, starting to write a story is like diving into the ocean or a lake (okay, dolphins are already in the water). The goal is to eventually get to the other side. Sometimes I have a plan to get from point A to point Z, but it never seems to work out that directly. There are lots of shiny things in the sea, and they all vie for my attention and get clingy. So, I reach a point where I have to come up for air and blow it all out of my blowhole.
Translation: hand the story off to my alpha reader who tells me whether there’s anything salvageable in this mess of soggy papers.
So I get some good criticism (and perhaps a fish treat or two). But the other side is still a long way away at that point.
Hm, the more I think about this, I think flounders can play a part in this metaphorical puzzle. Besides swimming around looking at all the shiny things and picking the ones I think will work (and putting them back so I can pick up something else), there is an element of waiting, as well. Hiding in the mud, letting other critters wander by until the right ones come along.
But how does the flounder get to the other side of the water?
Hitching a ride with a dolphin, perhaps.
Yes, I think I’ve killed the sea creature metaphor. Back to work.