Last October I attempted to compose the first draft of my 4th novel. Unfortunately, I was unsuccessful. Honestly, I was surprised at the failure. Writing the first three books hadn’t been easy, but I’d remained focused, determined each time to pound out a draft. Three completed manuscripts are evidence of my success.
I don’t know what was different last time from the previous three years, but my usual tricks failed to keep me on track, and the story never seemed to find a solid foundation. Convinced the problem was with the story idea itself, I shifted gears and tried to write the sequel to the science fiction novel I’d written in 2014. Again, I was unable to keep focused, and while this story seemed to have direction, I still couldn’t complete a draft.
I was discouraged enough to leave both stories untouched for a full year. I’m still a bit shaken by the failure, and not convinced I’ve the stomach for another attempt. But November is nearly upon us, and I have to admit, I really want to try again. I’m going to take the next week and re-read my failed manuscripts, see if either of them has a second life. If not, a short story collection might be a really good idea. Either way, I need to fight through whatever this is and get writing.
I don’t like this feeling of not creating. It’s empty.
The #MeToo campaign has been eye opening for me. I thought myself well aware of the prevalence of sexual harassment and assault against women (and men). I was wrong.
As my social media feed continued to be filled with heartbreaking post after post (some with sickening stories, others with no details at all), the weight of it brought me to tears. So many people that I knew (many very well) had been victimized. I felt angry, horrified, disgusted, ashamed. Trying to figure out what to do or say was overwhelming. Any words felt forced, and writing them seemed more like “well at least I’m not THAT guy” than an honest acknowledgment. Even liking the posts seemed an empty gesture, though I did continue doing that throughout the day because it felt necessary.
I promised myself again and again that I would continue to speak out, call attention to actions, teach my children better, be the sort of human being who joined others in fighting to end abuse.
I still wanted to do more.
Towards the end of the day a good friend of mine made a simple, perfect, and poignant Facebook post. He wrote: I believe you.
Those three words summed up everything I’d been trying to expound on all day (and perhaps most of my adult life). It should be obvious, but somehow it isn’t- Believing victims of sexual assault is critical.
I wanted to go outside and shout that sentence over and over. I believe you.
I settled for copying my friend and posting those words on Twitter.
And because they are important, I wanted to share them with you all as well.
A mostly Wordless Wednesday post-
Athena is almost 6 months old. While still a puppy, she is no longer the tiny little thing we brought home in July. She just passed the 50 pound mark. I can already see the adult dog she will become, and she will be amazing. Her guard instincts have kicked in and she spends many content hours staring out the windows, waiting and watching. I love her more and more.
The leaves are changing on the mountains. Temperatures are hovering near perfection. I get to wear sweaters and long sleeve shirts. Autumn is here! Oh, and also, it is the first Wednesday of the month which is when the Insecure Writer’s Support Group gets together for their monthly blog hop. Check us out and sign up HERE
From the website:
Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling.
You can also answer the optional question each month.
for October the question is: Have you ever slipped any of your personal information into your characters, either by accident or on purpose?
When I first read this, I thought in terms of identity theft. You know, something like I wrote my social security number on page 17, or maybe used my current street address. I can say with surety I’ve never done that.
But slipping personal things about myself, stories, traits, desires and dreams, sure.
When I was in my teens and twenties, the majority of my protagonists were loose representations of myself. I’d write about actual events, slightly tweaked, but anyone who knew me or was there could see through the flimsy disguise.
With practice, I got better and hiding things. Like many writers, I was able to create characters who could do and say things I might never dare try in my actual life. I would write idealized versions of who I’d like to be (and on one creepy occasion, someone I’d never want to be). The fictionalized adventures would be mine, become something like my memories.
If I’m being honest with myself, I think I still do this more than I’d like, but rather than jumble all these things into one character, I spread them out over everyone in the story. Maybe others are talented enough to write complex and interesting characters based entirely on speculation, void of any connection to themselves or anyone they know. That is beyond my skill.
On another note, I finished the second round of the NYC Midnight flash fiction challenge. Hopefully this story is more well received than my last effort, which honestly wasn’t very good. This time, I wasn’t sleep deprived or unable to focus. Hopefully, I’ll actually score some points and maybe advance to the final two rounds. If not, it was a fun and challenging experience.
My only complaint about the contest is the rigid use of genre and accompanying expectations. I know it makes judging a bit easier to have set criteria, but it makes the writing feel very controlled. I mentioned my story wasn’t quality work, but one of the critiques was, in romantic comedies, we expect a happier conclusion. In other words, don’t play with the genre. That seems a strange and vapid critique.
What about you clods? Any good words to share?