Frustration, dismay, and determination

The story I'm currently working on is giving me no end of trouble. I'm in the middle of its second — second! — gutting, this one more complete than the last. I have faith that there's a solution in there somewhere, that I need not abandon it totally: an idea is just an idea, and there are ways to make just about any idea work if you can keep your brain open to unusual possibilities. But so far that solution is eluding me.

There's a story about one of the early Chinese martial-artist monks (I'm only remembering it, perhaps imprecisely, but it's an interesting story for all that): apparently he spent years and years just staring at a stone wall. All the other monks were doing whatever they needed to do to train hard in martial arts and gain enlightenment and all that, and they were contemptuous of what they considered to be his laziness. Eventually, however, he stirred and stood. The other monks gathered around to see what he would finally do, what his "training" had accomplished for him. With one mighty shout alone, he knocked the wall completely down, so fully had he come to understand it, and his own power, through those years of staring.

I feel like I'm staring at this story as he stared at that wall. I don't feel like I'm gaining in understanding, I'm just hoping and having faith that at some instant something will change and I will know exactly what needs to be done with it.

I hope it doesn't take years, though. I have a deadline on this sucker.


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