Thursday 26th January 2012by Rabea Hofmann
Today I wrote the ending for The Fourth Rule of the Sacrifice. It was such a shaking experience that for a few hours, it made me wonder if I ever wanted to write a novel again. After Thalanien, which I finished in April last year (2011), I was afraid that Thalanien was the only story I ever had in me; the only story I could ever tell; that my writing would end with the last sentence of that project.
Then I began an online writing course despite all my usual suspicions. After all, how can someone else teach you how to write the stories that matter to you? And how, I wondered, should someone who did not know me be able to teach me something I had not already learnt in almost fifteen years of trial and error?
I’m glad that I overcame my arrogance and invested the money (admittedly, not very little for someone with my salary). In retrospect, I would have paid the price for the whole course just to receive the first three lessons, because they taught me how to find new ideas when I thought I had none. Right now, I feel as though I will never run out of stories that will be close to my heart and full of all my passions and longings. If you write and you think you may have lost your direction, I recommend this course with all my heart – and no, I’m not getting paid to say this. It’s an honest recommendation. Here’s the link: Holly Lisle’s How to Think Sideways.
But back to today. I started this novel in June 2011 and took it through Holly’s course, and despite her great guidance, it’s been a stubborn story. That wasn’t her fault–though I think perhaps the techniques she teaches in turn made my muse want to tell a story that was not just all right, but that mattered to me. As it turns out, this story mattered enough to make me cry while I wrote it, and that has only ever happened to me with Thalanien. So in every way, Holly kept her promise. She didn’t forget to mention that such fulfilment comes with a cost, but I forgot to remember it.
I wrote the sad bit of the ending yesterday, but I wasn’t sure I would be able to finish it today. My muse knew, though. I cleaned the flat today, washed the dishes, did the laundry, and all the while, my heart was racing. It was a reaction as if to a physical danger. Apart from being in actual danger, I’ve had this reaction in only one situation before, and it wasn’t writing-related. I’ve never to this point been physically afraid of writing.
In the end, I gave in. I sat down in my little writing corner with a cup of tea and listened to Loreena McKennitt’s Raglan Road on repeat and high volume. Every story I write has a song that goes with it and inspires me. This is the one for The Sacrifice. It took me a good hour to write 1200 words, which isn’t the greatest of achievements. But every one of those words mattered. I poured my heart out onto those pages and it bled and hurt like hell. It’s no wonder I was afraid. My muse knew what we were getting ourselves into.
For a few hours afterwards, I was numb, stunned, unable to feel. It was as though by putting and end to that story, I had also put an end to myself. Perhaps that is, in a way, what happens when you write: you put a part of yourself into the story and once that’s done, it’s gone forever. It belongs now to the ones who will read it, or to the characters who lived and suffered through it.
I’ve no doubt that I will be writing more stories, and I hope that all or at least some of them will matter as much as this one. But for today, and perhaps tomorrow, I’ll just be grieving.