Sunday, January 15, 2012

That old familiar fear...

In my quest to finish SERA, my wip, I have decided to fully reread everything I've written for it to date. This includes my handwritten notes and chapters, each chapter on my laptop, and all the outlines I've drawn up to date.
When I started writing SERA, I decided to create each chapter as a separate word doc, so that when I want to navigate through the story I'm not dealing with 300 pages to sift through. This has been extremely helpful, not only in the drafting stage, because placement of each of the plot points is much easier to visualize for me; but also will hopefully be helpful in the revising stage, as I will be able to look at each chapter individually, moving them around within the full text as needed with no more effort than a change in the table of contents.

As I began my first real read-through of all the chapters in order (which is a totally different experience than reading them piecemeal - an effort for which I'm generally rewarded with hours of self-doubt and insecurity), I fell in love all over again. The places came back to me with such intensity, I felt as if I had been travelling away from home for far too long. The characters struck me with their different personalities; some I hadn't really though of in months were there on the page and in my mind's eye: beautiful, weak, hateful, disgusting, powerful.

I read and felt a sense of both wonder and pride that, although I am faced with mountains of revision and I am nowhere near ready for the much-needed edit, I created this world and these people. It amazed and saddened me that these characters don't yet exist for anyone but me. The pride lasted precisely three seconds (ok, maybe I'm ballparking it, but still it wasn't very long) before the fear took over. I felt a knot in the pit of my stomach and my hands started sweating.

That old familiar fear, the paralyzing, creativity-sapping fear that no one will ever read my story, or love my characters or feel about this as much as I do took over. I went from euphoric creator to doubt-riddled writer in three seconds.

Do you ever feel that old, familiar fear?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Laws of (Writing) Attraction

The past few days, I've been thinking about men, attraction, and writing for the masses versus writing for myself. It is an interesting place, being an omniscient writer in our characters' universe - being able to decide who is attractive to our MCs and why. Having this resonate with our readers is a different story.

Case in point: Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy. Polite, well-bred, dark, reserved, deep - he seemed to have been written exactly for me. Even physically he hit all of my major points of attraction. I wanted Lizzie to fall for him; I wanted smarmy Mr. Wickham to be seen for the charlatan he was; I wanted Mr. Darcy to be vindicated and celebrated for the glorious being he is.

How did dear old Ms. Austen writing so long ago tap into exactly the type of man who would be the ideal not only for myself, but for countless others? Is there an archetype for writers to follow?

I don't think there is one archetype of 'attractive male',most recently the emnity between "Team Edward" and "Team Jacob" is the most glaring example of diff'rnt strokes for diff'rnt folks. The two characters are practically opposites, although passion and emotion are traits they share in abundance. I am a "Team Edward" girl (as much as that title pains me), and I struggle to see anything romantically alluring in the character of Jacob Black. Those who are avidly "Team Jacob" find Edward to be cold, controlling, and unfeeling.

So as I craft my own hero, I am sure to write the male romantic interest/hero to follow at least some of the pattern forged by Mr. Darcy and Edward - after all it's my world, my sotry, and if I don't fall in love with thtem a little bit, then what's the point of writing them? However, I would like for my books to be liked by more than just myself, so I will have to include positive characters who do not fit my standards but who would be attractive to others.

I wonder if I will be able to write less-attractive-to-me characters with the same passion and authenticity that I apply to my favourite guys.

Next post: writing female characters as an exercise in personal vanity and vendetta.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Can one search for inspiration?

How does inspiration happen? Is it a lightening bolt that wakes you up, or a random thought in the shower? For me, it's often either, or both. It's the when of inspiration that seems to be the most difficult part. I often have that moment of pure, blissful clarity as I am in my car without any way of sharing it, or as the shampoo is dripping down my face and coming dangerously close to my eyelashes. I think I will remember it, I will myself to remember it, but all too often I fail.

Inspiration funny though: I believe that I experience these random acts of brilliance exponentially more often when I am seeking itafter a long absence and not for too long. I have committed myself to finishing my favourite of my 3 WIPs, and just yesterday I had a flash of realization, an unravelling of the gnarled plotlines in which I had become hopelessly entangled. I saw, clear as a dirt path through a thick forest, how to avoid the formerly inevitable ninja-monks from having to save my plot. I had been racking my brain, begging for this kind of revelation for months prior to 'temporarily' shelving the whole shebang.

(A tweet from @fakeNaNoWriMo back in November that said something to the effect of: when in doubt, add ninjas was hilarious to me considering the horror I was facing.)

Having the curtain lifted, seeing the answer that should have been there the whole time, made me think: what is inspiration, and can I really call it at will? Is it an energy that as it is used depletes? Is it a muscle that grows stronger with practice? Is it completely random and unintentional for humans - a brief glimpse of the brilliance of God?

Whatever it is, I am elated that it came to visit me. I never realized how unhappy I was about the death-by-ninja that awaited my beloved novel.

I fervently wish that the angel of inspiration, for an angel it seems to me, comes to visit you all this month! Happy writing!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

And here I sit...

...clutching my pretty pink duotang filled with a nothingness that is so smothering. I rarely make New Year's resolutions, however this year I have decided to forego my habitual start-something-new-and-fun-that-I-will-suck-at eagerness and try something really new. I'm going to try to finish projects I shelved in disgust, despair, or exhaustion.

I was reading about perfectionism this morning. A blogger stated that the worst perfectionists he knows are not successful, high-powered professionals, but rather people who most often do not begin things and never complete them. The blogger insisted that this level of perfectionism was absolutely crippling to the point that the sufferer was so convinced that nothing she could do would be 'good enough', so what was the point of even trying? I fall in the former category when it comes to anything of real importance to me(that story that means something, the one I'd love to tell; the social life I'd love to pursue; and others, my most secret hidden goals kept away from prying eyes and judgements...) and more often the latter in areas and endeavors that don't scare me as much (like keeping up this blog!).

The post struck a resounding chord with me that has been haunting me ever since. So this year I am going to make a resolution. I never do things by halvs, and it's a doozy: I am going to beat my own perfectionism, strike out and risk failure. I'm going to finish those novels I have started instead of writing something completely new. I'm going to keep the paintings I had planned on the back burner until I finish the ones I have already deemed to be beyond saving.

Those pieces of my soul that I have left wasting away in shadows are going to be liberated and celebrated. I am going to finish Sera's story and what's more, when I'm through, I'm going to let someone read it.

OK, that may be going a bit too far...but at least I'll finish them. For myself.