There are days when you don’t want to be a writer. When you’re tired of writing or worse yet, sick of it. When whatever you’ve been working on annoys you, even makes you hate it.
I’ve had days like that this year, while working on a new novel. Each novel or story that I write I try make a little different. But most of the time the story, which some will say comes from your muse or subconscious, but I like to think of my muse as the divine Mind of the Universe, or to be more specific the Mind of the Super Universe (of which our universe is but a single electron) inspired to write, has mind of its own. In essence, I wrote a different story than I had planned on writing.
For instance, while this story is a sequel, the second book in a series, it was going to continue being about my hero and his companions. But instead I ended up writing about my hero’s inglorious adventures with his allies, not his companions. And while I pretty much like the story, there were times when I hated it. At first, I thought it would end too soon and then it just seemed to drag on and on. And now, when I’m just a few thousand words from the end, with the action building toward the crisis, which will lead to the climax and the change of my main character’s view point towards the people he’s currently with, I’m again tired of it, but also excited.
I know how I want it to work out and I’ve learned new things about writing that I’ve either never noticed or had just forgotten (I’m going with never noticed) and once I end it there will be the time to start re-writing and editing it. Even so I don’t know if I’ll be sad that it’s ended, or just relieved, or happy that’s over, or all three.
Writing fiction requires a lot of emotional commitment, not to mention attention of detail, visualization, and willingness to shuck bad ideas (and even good ideas) if these ideas somehow slow the story down. Pacing is important. But besides the emotional commitment and the mechanics, it also requires thought. Does that image work? Does that scene need more work? Are those names silly/stupid/shitty? You don’t want to judge too harshly on the last word because when you get to that stage you might just be so sick and tired of your work that you cannot make rational and intelligence judgements. When that happens, walk away from it.
You have to be willing to change what needs to be changed. That’s the first and most important point in writing. Then you have to be willing to let your characters live through your words. Too much description kills characters. So does too much dialogue. Don’t be cute for cute’s sake and don’t move the story too much through dialogue. And finally, like any great actor, you have to be willing to let your emotions be expressed through your characters lives. Have you ever loved and lost? Has someone stolen your job? Have your friends ever turned against you? Have you betrayed your friends and then blamed the betrayal on them? Has someone you loved gone?
I lost a dear friend and brother last year, as well as my mother. And my eldest daughter, who I love as much as anyone and of whom I had grown especially close to, moved across the country to take the job of her dreams and it broke my heart. But what can you do? No father can say don’t go. When you love someone, you have to be willing to let go of them. All these feelings, all that love and fear and hate and sorrow, and any healing, as well as excitement and glory, has to go into your characters. It doesn’t have to be melodramatic or heavy, but some bit of it has to be there.
This story has been mostly about self-righteousness, about anger, about resentment, and about loss. But there are moments of companionship and humor and joy, too,
Writing is an emotional whirlwind. A tornado of feelings and fears and desires and regrets. If there are not days of anger about your writing, not days of fear, not days when you hate it and don’t want to go back to it, not to forget days of joy, then you’re going something wrong.
Of course, some days are like today, a perfect day with comfortable temperatures and a brilliant blue sky, a day when you want to get out into the woods, a day for the open road, a day to glide across lakes and seas, or scoot down a river in a raft, a canoe, a kayak. Or even an inner tube. A day when the possibilities are endless, the distractions many, and the need to finish your writing, to be disciplined and exact, compete with your spirit of adventure.
And then there are thos days when doing nothing is a virtue. When that day is the purest form of relaxation. Such as today. In fact, today was a day with all of those traits. A day with adventure, laziness, and commitment. (Well, I’m about to do the adventuring into the outdoors part in a moment.)
A writer’s life is as complex, complicated and conflicting as anyone’s life. You just have to be flexible and make the most of it.
See you out there.