Chasing Inspiration

Friday, August 12, 2011

Keep it Simple, Breathe, Write

I was reading a blog by an author I admire and, if I had the balls, would ask about mentoring. But I don't so I haven't and probably won't ever. I'm a wuss like that. I'm fine asking for an autograph, admiring from afar, even pimping said author's books. But ask about mentorship? Hells no!

Anyway, I was reading this blog post by author Vicki Pettersson* where she talks about fear and writing loosely. I've been writing for over 10 years but I've been that writer to shy away from things that cause me fear so I drop what I'm writing for the next, easier thing. I should say I used to drop what I was writing for the next, easier thing. Sure, I have several finished manuscripts but I've always written something that felt easy and the stories always seem to fall flat.

For Mallory's book, aka the book that will not die, I'm trying to embrace my fear. I'm a pantser, not a plotter so I've packed off my inner critic to Siberia while I get this draft written. In this draft I learn about the characters, the world, the conflict and I write a whole lot of stuff that will need to be cut because it's necessary for me to know, but not for the story over all. I wish I could be a plotter right now because that would make things easier. Instead, I write a timeline as I go to help me remember events, characters, etc. There are a lot of inconsistencies in my early drafts. I hate it, but it's how I write. I've tried outlining ahead of time, but it doesn't work.

Anyway, back to fear and writing loosely. I'm afraid of this story. I think it has the potential to be great but it also has the potential to be complex and as an unpublished author, I'm not sure I'm ready for complex. I'll be the first to admit my craft sucks. Since I don't plot ahead of time, this partnered with craft of suckitude makes complex very difficult.

I'm afraid I'll write this story, I'll go through all the what ifs, the character development, the world building, everything and the story will always suck and I will not have done Mallory and Jason justice. I can't tell you how many times I've sat in front of the computer and almost had a panic attack due to fear of my own inadequacies.

Then today Vicki had this to say:
All of this is a circuitous way of explaining a very circuitous process … and an admonition to keep going when your eyes are crossed and your mind is muddled and you’re starting to forget why you’re writing your story at all. That’s where a lot of stories flag and writers quit and they move on to the next idea that seems shinier and simpler (until it’s not). Hold your ideas loosely, keep it simple. Breathe. Write.
Today, that's what I'm doing. I'm holding my ideas loosely, keeping it simple, breathing and writing. Vicki, you don't know me, but those words, they helped to loosen the knots in my gut and unfreeze my fingers. Thank you for your willingness to share some of your writing journey. It's greatly appreciated.

*If you haven't read Vicki Pettersson's Signs of the Zodiac urban fantasy series I encourage you to try the series. I found this series to be a delightful departure from the vampires, shapeshifters, witches and fae that dominate the market. Don't get me wrong, I love books with the above plots, but there's something deliciously dark and different about Vicki's series.

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