Writing Blues

Concept of businessI know almost everyone hates to write. Especially fiction writing. Well, maybe poetry too. Fact is most people hate writing anything more than a text or post to social media. Me? I love writing. I think it’s fun to create a group of people then put them in a place with a problem to solve and see what happens. A lot of thought has to go into the lives of these people. When I create a character, I know their name, sex and age but that’s about it. I spend a lot of time after that giving the person a history. When and where they were born. What was life-like growing up? I explore why that person finds themselves in the story I’m creating. As I write the story I learn about my characters. They do things that surprise me, say things that offend me and sometimes fail when I want them to succeed. I also have to make them fail when they want to succeed.

I make a lot of notes as my wife will attest. She complains about the messy condition of the library at times. I might have a dozen books out on different subjects plus pages of hand written notes explaining to myself what I’m trying to write. I have a general idea where things need to go but I hate to get too specific about how scenes will play out. I like giving the characters an opportunity to show me what they might do. Sometimes they bore me and I take out a part and start again. It can get frustrating sometimes and that’s where I am today. Frustrated. I’m over 75,000 words into this novel I’m writing and suddenly I don’t like what’s coming next. I just started getting this feeling things were happening way to easily for my characters. In real life we like things to be kind of normal. Predictable outcomes often determine what kind of actions we take in the first place. When we step off the trail and start to wander and then anything might happen.

When we read a novel or watch a TV show or movie we love watching others step off the trail. We love to see what happens. I guess we like that because we don’t want to do it ourselves. When I write I have to step off that trail with the folks in my story. I have to see their world, be in their world. I have to feel life-like they do. It’s hard to move out of their world and back into your own at times. I think when you have trouble stepping back into their world things get frustrating. I find myself forcing things that don’t feel right. Wait, did I say this was fun?

It has to be fun because it’s too hard otherwise. So today is frustrating. Maybe it’s because it’s election day but more than likely it’s because I’m just not letting the story go where it needs to go. I know that probably sounds strange but I think it’s true that when you create a complex story you have to be open to things evolving and going in a direction you didn’t anticipate. You can fight it and force things back into line but really, what fun is that? If I do that then I’m not willing to step off that trail and see where things will go…