Some days writing feels like factory work. You set a goal, sit down and have at it until you either reach the goal, give up, or get distracted. While there are days when you feel you are drawing from a well of divine inspiration, there are many more that just feel like you are a day laborer sorting words into sentences.
I've been stuck for the last two days on a scene where one of my main characters visits Goa Gajah, or the Elephant Cave in Bali. Although I was there (ten years ago) I was looking for confirmation on what is actually inside. Seems simple, but it wasn't. No matter how many resources I checked, I was not satisfied I had gotten the information I was looking for. I spent hours reading websites, looking at strangers holiday photos and re-reading guidebooks but I wasn't feeling anything click.
See, my character has a moment in the cave, this much I knew. How did I know that? I can't say other than it was a hunch, there was a reason this needed to happen but I was damned if I knew why or how (or even what the big moment was going to be.) I just knew something happens in that cave.
Research like this is like following breadcrumbs into a dark forest hoping it's going to lead you to a gingerbread house. The deeper you go the harder it is to give up but the darker it gets.
About an hour ago I was thinking about changing the story and having her go somewhere else, my breadcrumb trail was going stale. My research was a bust. I was not following a hunch I was creating a huge distraction.
And then, BINGO. One phrase, describing the deity Ganesha, changed everything. I knew why she was there, what was going to happen and why that moment is so important to the story.
What was the phrase? "Ganesha is widely revered as the Remover of Obstacles."
Just like that the obstacle was removed in both the story and my writing process. (I think I may have been getting some divine inspiration after all!)