The Saga Quest

It started with a broken foot 🩼

published25 days ago
4 min read

It started with a broken foot, Reader. Then an allergic reaction to yet another antibiotic. And then like that my whole life spiraled into something nightmarish.

Simple things became grueling arduous tasks.

An outing to the grocery store felt like I was walking on broken glass.

Honestly, I wondered if Hans Christian Andersen was channeling this sorta pain when he wrote The Little Mermaid. Of what his heroine felt walking on human feet.

Six months later I had a massive toothache that wasn’t—according to the dentist—a cavity.

I didn’t know what was wrong.

I didn’t know what to do.

I had to cancel every book project I have scheduled because I just kept getting sicker by the day with no answers in sight.

I finally got all the answers 11 months after I went to the urgent care for that broken foot. I was diagnosed with 2 (completely unrelated) rare chronic illnesses.

And then, Reader, the rebuilding began.

It is never easy to start over. But at the same time, it is only as devastating as you let it be.

I am well-practiced in starting over. I did it every 4 months for 12 years of my life, because I was in theater. It’s a whole cycle of starting over.

You audition.

You rehearse.

The scenery is built.

The costumes are made.

You have dress rehearsal.

You perform.

…and then everything is torn down bare to start again from scratch.

Except it isn’t is it? Because you’re different. You’re changed by the experience. You advance in your skills.

Which means, it is never too late to start over in life. With your career or…in a story. And nothing you’ve done is ever truly wasted.

In 2018, the same week my foot got broken and I started down that year-long journey of discovering I had 2 rare chronic illnesses, I also learned that Amazon would be shutting down the Imprint that had published my first licensed work only 3 months earlier.

I had devoted months of my life to that novel and in a Dark Night of the Soul moment, mere weeks before it was due I had gotten stuck.

Like supremely stuck.

Like I have no earthly clue how to make the first 2/3rds of the book match up with the end. And when I realized that, I was a mess.

I couldn’t sleep. I’ve suffered from night-time anxiety since I was 7 and this just made it a million times worse.

Finally—after this had gone on for more than a day—my husband made me tell him what was wrong and I confessed:

I was lost in my story and I didn’t know how to get unstuck.

And being the awesome person that he is he helped me (at 5 AM on a December morning) map out the story from Point A to Point Z with no gaping sinkholes in sight.

Now, back then we did it with pencil and paper on our coffee table, but today I’ve got something even better for you, Reader. Scapple—sister program to Scrivener—the program I use for all my writing.

Scapple is a brainstorming program you can use to make idea trees, plot out anything with digital post-it notes, or map the complicated history of the kingdom for your next D&D campaign.

But most importantly, you can use it when you get stuck to map out your story from Point A to Point Z.

And best of all, those digital post-it notes you made can be imported directly into Scrivener with a few easy clicks so there’s no huge time suck transferring notes into another program.

So if you’re currently feeling stuck and overwhelmed with life or with your story, Reader, just take a deep breath—or two—and spend an evening mapping it out.

You might just find that having things laid out in a simple tangible form lets you see that things weren’t as tangled as they seemed when you started.

Your cohort in storytelling,

Kat Vancil


PS 👉 Which do you find harder,Reader? Writing the beginning of your story or editing your story? Hit reply and vote WRITING or EDITING. Or vote in the Instagram poll.


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