Thursday, 22 June 2017

Roadblock

Writing ensemble casts is hard. I'm over thirty thousand words into my book, and I've just assembled the team of five people who are going to travel together for the majority of the remainder of the story. I feel overwhelmed as hell at the prospect of trying to give equal shine to five characters while writing from the third person limited perspective of one. 

Up until now, I was mostly just writing about Taris and Meryl, a husband and wife whose daughter gets murdered in a terrorist attack at the start of the book. It was difficult, but manageable. I focused on how they dealt with their grief, and how they pushed the story forward with their decisions. I then fell into the cliche of meeting up with a few other unique characters along the way. Most recently, the entire core has just escaped a major battle together, and are about to continue the journey and finish off the story in the second half as a unit. You know, every epic fantasy adventure ever.

The problem is, I'm having a really hard time managing this and keeping things straight. It's like I'm juggling five oranges, trying to focus on the one that is currently in my hand while still keeping my eyes and mind on the ones in the air. But my brain just isn't up to it. It's too hard. I'm second guessing myself and whether I should even continue writing the book at this point, or if I should go back and re-work parts of the story so that the group isn't comprised of five people, but maybe three or four at the most. That's still hard to do, but it's easier than trying to keep five of them in my head all at the same time. 

Or maybe I really should just focus on improving my skills through short story writing instead, or just blog writing like what I'm doing here. Truth be told, I feel as though my writing doesn't come across as interesting enough. It's the milkiest of milketoast. I think part of this is a result of getting obsessive over mastering essay structure in university, which also meant mastering grammar and syntax - or at least getting competent at it. 

At this point, I don't think my grammar is the problem. It's my honesty. My ability to speak the truth in the stories I'm trying to tell. Could it be that I'm trying to tell the wrong stories? Could it be that I'm too scared, too lazy, too distracted, or too overstimulated by other things in life to really dig down deep and find those kernels of truth that make me and the world tick? Or could it be that I simply don't have any interesting stories to tell? All of these answers are frustrating and defeating, and I don't know the answer to any of them, except maybe to the one about being distracted and overstimulated by other things. Those are true. You can't not be as an adult with a marriage partner, two kids, a mortgage, and a full-time job.

I'm sure I'll get past this eventually. Whether the answer is just pushing forward, or whether it's taking a step back and working on something different, I'll figure it out eventually. In the meantime, I'm not going to stop writing every day. Six months into it, I'm enjoying the habit and the process. I feel as though parts of my brain are slowly peeling back and that I'm rediscovering the core of myself and my humanity. Writing is about paying attention to details. It's about picking up a stone and describing it as slick, shiny, and smooth, and wondering how it got that way. Forcing myself to think at that level on a regular basis has had some positive effects, and I know it will only get better the more I write and the more I read.

I've committed to reading at least thirty pages of a book every day. That might not sound like a lot to more voracious readers, but it adds up to two hundred and ten pages at the end of the week, which isn't too shabby at all. I even downloaded a goal app to keep myself accountable for meeting that goal, as well as promising myself that I'll write at least three hundred words every day. Ideally, these words should be for my fiction, but just writing a blog entry like this one counts towards it too. As long as I'm writing and getting things down. As long as I'm learning more about stories, about writing, and about myself. In the end, writing is about self discovery, and in that aspect, I feel like I'm succeeding more the longer I do it.

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