Weakness, Doubt and Portrayal

It’s so sunny out this morning that it’s utterly distracting me from writing.  I may need to go out and shoot, if only so I can get some writing done this afternoon.  There are worse things that I’ve done in the name of focusing on writing.  No, I’m not sharing the details. 🙂

I’ve been making relatively steady progress on The Nine, but it’s been interesting the last couple of days.  I discovered the need for a scene that hadn’t been part of the outline, that I hadn’t spent much time thinking about, and that realization slowed me down.  It might actually be more accurate to say that the scene was in the outline but was more of a passing reference that I realized needed to be expanded out. Tavis demanded it, but I agree with him in hindsight. Remember, there’s a reason I say that Tavis is always right.  Trying to feel my way through it in a more blind fashion than usual, however, wasn’t easy and, as I said, slowed me down a lot.  Add to that the fact that half the people at work keep coming in sick and now I seem to be coming down with something.  All of this meant that Thursday wasn’t a great day for me in a pure numbers sense.  That said, the extra scene turned out well, and the rest of that chapter came out as well as I had hoped (I think), with the numbers going much better last night.

I’m trying to return to my usual zen self, where as long as I hit pace, I’m happy, but it’s hard.  I like the big numbers.  They impress me, which is unusual, and they make me feel like I’m really getting somewhere.  But I’m trying to remind myself that, as this is my third novel in the past 6 months, burnout is a current danger if I push too hard, and besides, 2k of quality beats 4k of forced crap that I have to rewrite later.  The argument keeps going in circles in my head, to the point where it’s almost making me dizzy.  I’ll find a balance point with it though.  I always do, and it’s only been 4 days of writing now, which makes it early days yet in this current NaNo.

The totals, for those interested, were 2,070 on Thursday (with me dragging myself to hit pace, was not a good day, as I said) and 4,316 last night.  They balanced out to maintain my average for word count, which is nice, and as I said, I’m happy with the quality I managed on Thursday while in a difficult situation for many reasons, but it still doesn’t quite feel like a victory.  I need to work on maintaining my perspective on that.  2k for a single day, after a full work day should feel more awesome than it does, because, intellectually, I recognize that it’s still a lot of writing.  This brings me to a current total of 12,568 words on The Nine.

The scene I had to expand, as well as another I’ve discovered needs similar treatment this morning, has reminded me that I need to let my characters have their moments of personal development and be three-dimensional.  This means being flexible enough in my plan to allow them that unplanned moment of self-doubt or self-interest, to let their strengths and weaknesses show through.  It’s not a problem for some, who refuse to do as they’re told anyway, but for others, I have to coax it out of them a bit.  I may need to put that up on the wall, actually, as I think it’s that kind of important, even while being something I’m worried I might forget again. I guess it’s really about remembering that they might be characters, imaginary people I keep in my head (and word file), but they are still people in other senses and I have to let them be that, warts and all.  No, this will not stop me from doing bad things to them for their own good through the course of the story.  Nothing will stop that, because these are things that have to happen. It’s more about letting both their good and bad reactions to those things and others come through.

Even as I’m writing The Nine, and this blog entry, I’m fighting a furious desire to go back and edit Possession again, as well as plugging in notes and ideas on Bound that are the result of the feedback I mentioned receiving.  Yeah, total ADD kid over here.  It’s been worse lately, possibly because of all the stuff I have on the go.  Maybe in future I’ll try to limit myself to two manuscripts on the go at any given time in order to maintain some kind of focus, though I have doubts I’d ever be able to stick with that.  I’m not blocked on anything, just highly distractible at the moment.  It’s not fun, especially when I know what I really need to be working on and then change my mind. Grrr.

Okay, enough whining out of me for one day.  Today’s picture is another from last weekend’s little trip out with the camera.  I really love spring.  It’s exciting, and colourful and keeps me busy.

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About Julie

I'm a writer and photographer. I always have something with me to take notes for ideas or writing projects I'm thinking about or have on the go. I also like to go around with my camera and take pictures of anything that strikes me as beautiful or evocative. I'm perpetually working on one story or another, while waiting for enough distance to judge the last one (or more). I'm always working on several projects at once, developing the next book, even as I'm editing the last. Beyond that, there's always plenty of scraps and twists of ideas rolling around in my head, eventually turning themselves into full blown stories.
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4 Responses to Weakness, Doubt and Portrayal

  1. I to tend to have trouble letting characters have character-moments. Of course I’ve never really thought of myself as a very character-oriented writer…I often tend to be more about ideas and atmosphere…and so I often have to stop and remind myself to let my characters go and give them moments to be more than just tools of the story.

    Very nice picture. Always enjoy a good crocus.

    • Julie says:

      Thanks. For me, I tend to want to sweep their fears and doubts under the rug, but that’s part of the story too, and it can be what gives them depth.

  2. jmmcdowell says:

    Some of my characters are reluctant to share those fears and doubts, just like many of us in this world are. It can be hard to coax them to be more forthcoming. But even glimpses of those parts of their lives can add so much to the story and the reader’s view of their worlds. I think a few such insights can be worth so much more than 2,000-word descriptions of the world’s landscape.

    Enjoy your nice weather! A walk in fresh air can make my cold/flu/whatever bugs seem more manageable.

    • Julie says:

      Agreed. I think sometimes, too, it’s not so much coaxing as listening for the whisper when they’re finally willing to let you in on those things. Being reluctant, sometimes they decide not to be at all loud when they finally do give in. 🙂

      And the walk around was nice. I shot a lot of pictures, not all of which are post-quality, but many of which are. I think I just refilled my stock in one trip. I love spring. 🙂 And now, back to the trenches!

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