Managing a writing life is more challenging than the average bear might realize.
Sure, it seems easy. You sit at a computer or with paper and writing utensil and dream up new worlds, people, and conflicts.
Kids around the world do this all day as they play. Storytelling, inventing new games or imaginary friends, and dreaming up adventures seems so easy when children do it.
But children don’t have to worry about crafting a world with a consistent set of rules. They don’t worry about a character’s motivation. If a new idea strikes them, they can follow it. Or smash cars up to change the course of the boring story. Or have the character gain a superpower and fly away if they don’t like the game’s rules anymore.
Writers can’t do that. Well, we could. But editors, readers, and our writer friends would probably give us that death stare of “WTH are you thinking right now?” if we tried. We’re supposed to think about things like world building, the characters’ motivations, and plausibility.
Focusing on those issues can be a challenge at the best of times. During the revision process, they can bring your revisions to a screeching halt.
That’s where I find myself now. I keep circling back to my romance-in-progress and the revisions it needs. And I can’t figure out exactly what to do with it.
A few flaws are clear. My two main characters are reactive, not proactive. They don’t cause things to happen in the story. Instead, someone or something else does, and they’re left only with responding to the event. That makes for damned boring writing. And reading.
I have too many things outside their control happening throughout the book. That’s probably a flaw in the advice to “chase your characters up a tree and throw rocks at them.” It’s great to stress the characters by having them face challenge after challenge. That’s where we see their strengths and growth happen, and having them fail helps readers connect with them.
But again, that becomes boring if the reader never gets a break from it or if the characters’ challenges don’t come organically as the consequences of their actions and decisions.
I think my timeline is just screwy, and I may have a character or two that isn’t needed. Or perhaps I have too few characters. Or the wrong combination of characters. I’m still not clear on that.
I keep circling this manuscript, unsure of where my editing scalpel is needed. Or where more clay might help to build a better vase.
That’s partly my inexperience as a novelist. And I know that. I feel woefully inadequate to the task of writing a novel.
But I also wonder if I’m just bored with these characters and the story after all this time of working on it. If boredom is a factor, does that mean that this idea has run its course? Is this a novel to throw in a box and forget? Or, am I considering that path merely because I’m afraid of the hard work ahead?
Am I lacking skill? Am I just being lazy? Or am I bored? Is it a combination of the three? And how do I get past this to finish this draft?
I know other writers face these questions a lot. This is when impostor syndrome rears its head, making good writers believe they’re talentless hacks. It’s where newer writers often give up, unsure of where to go and how to grow into the work.
All I know is that writing is something I cannot shake, stop, or abandon. I’ve tried. It keeps teasing me with its seductive promise of being a god to creations of my own.
Because of its siren call, I return to the salt mine with my pick at the ready.