Wow This is Tough

Writing is hard.

That’s the TL/DR version. The rest of this post is just going to be me complaining.

Writing is hard.

I know I’m being redundant, but I think anyone who writes will agree that if there’s one common truth in writing, is that it is hard. Obviously there are probably those few for whom writing is as easy as breathing, but we’re going to ignore them. Outright. Forever.

Writing is hard.

Don’t get me wrong. There are times when it is brilliant fun. I’m more of a discovery writer, and so there are times when I throw in a random sentence that a moment later becomes a phenomenal way to carry my story forward. For instance I recently wrote a bit where my heroine is pulling apart a wooden slat box. The thing is held together by iron nails and she sets these aside because she has almost no possessions and if she’s going to have to lose her wooden box, she’s going to gain both slats and nails to compensate. A chapter later I’m trying to get my heroine out of her apartment, but her hair is a mess. So she ends up making bobby pins out of the nails. Not the best case scenario. I didn’t plan that, but it was brilliant fun trying to figure out how this young woman might use what meager resources she has to their fullest effect. Never mind that she’s a ghoul in early 19th century France. That part has become blasé to me, but figuring out that she can bend nails into bobby pins was fun!

Other times can be very frustrating however. I have a road map for my story, and I did pretty good following my outline for about six chapters. Maybe four. On about chapter five, I had my heroine meet a merchant who openly rips her off. She settles for his deal because no one else will help her. Then because he is the only person that she feels comfortable dealing with who will actually deal with her, she returns a few more times. Each time she sells more of her meager possessions. On her final trip to see the merchant, he reveals that he knew her father and would like to help her out. They say lots of words, there are a few tears, a couple cups of coffee, some exposition, and finally my heroine has a refuge … which will eventually vanish in flame and blood. This fits my road map nicely, but I didn’t like the pacing of the chapter. It all seemed to happen too quickly. I (stupidly during the first draft) asked myself things like, “where did Charlotte go between paragraph five and paragraph six?” “what is she spending her money on?” and similarly horrible questions for a discovery writer. So I set the chapter aside and started to (stupidly) answer the questions. The answers were brilliant (to me at least), but now I’m ten chapters into explaining where she was and what she was doing between paragraphs five and six and I’m still maybe a chapter or three away from getting back to paragraph six. And all of it has to stay because nothing makes sense without the chapter before.

What. The. Hell? How long is this thing going to be? I’m shooting for a single novel at around 100,000 words, but at this pace who knows how long this thing is going to be. Am I actually going to be able to sit down when I do the 2nd draft and cut a lot of this? I’ve never done that before. Is that actually humanly possible?

Writing is hard.

My heroine is going to be raped. Well not really. Some young men are drunkenly going to try. But remember she’s a ghoul. She’s got powers and she’s been learning how to use them. At this point she’s hurt and exceptionally hungry. She’s been trying to just live her life as normally as possible and resisting the urge to eat anyone. So while she has an incredible willpower, she’s at a tipping point. Something needs to happen to push her over the edge to embrace the monster and this seemed natural because it is so personal. An attack by a common thief or murderer seemed too distant to potentially permanently push Charlotte over the edge toward embracing the monster she is. She needs to fall. HARD. She needs to fall so hard that clawing her way back to some sort of normalcy is almost impossible. Then I plan on pushing her down again. Anyway, while my alpha readers (80% female) have nothing against this story line, I’ve read and heard things from professionals that seem to suggest that this is a giant no-no. It’s lazy. (I have no argument here). It’s distasteful. (Well sure it is, but my heroine eats people to live. That’s pretty distasteful too). Ungh. I’ve done too much of the ground work to turn around so I’m just going to write the story as I know to write it. If it ever sells, it sells. If it doesn’t, then it doesn’t. I just have to strive toward the goal of finishing first. Lessons will be applied to book two and beyond.

Writing is hard.

Is this process like this for everyone? At least at first? At least for some writers? One guy that actually has published something? I don’t think my story rambles. In fact it seems pretty interesting to me. My Alpha-readers seem to like the story a LOT, but what do they know? Honestly I’m asking because I don’t know. They are voracious readers, but they are also family and friends. I expect them to be generous with their praise and slow to critique – though I MUST admit that I have gotten some very good feedback both on my original short story and portions of my novel to date. So I find myself unsure. Reticent to continue but pull inexorably forward.

Writing is hard.

They say a good writing group can help with a lot of these issues. There’s a few public writing groups in the greater San Antonio area, but all of them are far to “normal” for what I’m doing. Plus I kinda feel like they aren’t exactly “pro-beginner”. I really want to find a small group of writers that is willing to accept my writing as being valid and who are constructive toward building each other’s skills. I write about ghouls so I guess I should be open to unicorns too.  There are some online sources for getting peer reviews, but there’s always SOMETHING in the way. Unghhh. Sucks to suck.

Writing is hard.

I spend a lot of time away from family and friends holed up in my bedroom like a hermit connected to the world by twitter and brass door knob, both of which are supposed to remain untouched. I mean I see that little blue bird tab just RIGHT there. I should click it and just see why the tab is glowing . Someone probably posted something witty about something relevant. And by probably I mean that there’s maybe a 10% chance. There’s an 80% chance that I couldn’t care less what it says except for the fact that I don’t know. 10% is a huge percentage compared to the lottery. People win the lottery you know? Thirty minutes later I remember the only reason I even saw that little blue bird beckon was because I was looking up another French surname online. Stupid research. I could have spent that time on the XBox with my friends. Oh yeah, or writing my novel.

Writing is hard.

Damn hard.

Whelp. I guess I’ll get back to it.

© 2015, Joseph K Little. All rights reserved.

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