Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Writing Just Means Letting Go/Labor of Love

Readers often ask me, how did you write this, or what's your process, and they're always difficult questions for me to answer because once the story is completed it's hard to imagine/remember what it was like before it was completed. Last night while chatting with a friend, I started talking about Threshold, my alien invasion novel. It is far from complete and it has been a struggle since day one. It is by far thee most massive feat of storytelling I've have ever undertaken.  With seven points of view and a complex story that deals with love, loss, grief, societal norms and class differences it is a project that is different than any other.
 
Everything about this book is unique to how I do things and my biggest struggle with it has been letting go and allowing the story to write itself. 

The title of the book came to me nearly a year ago, I had no idea what it meant, or what it's significance was, only that it was the title of my next book.  Then one morning the concept of it being an alien invasion plot arose.  Only later was there the appearance of characters began to enter my mind.  At that point I sat down to write it.  It started with an outline but even though the overall message was clear it was extraordinarily difficult to stick to the outline and type anything that even slightly resembled a story. I didn't want to force it so I put it aside and focused on proofreading Harlow 3.

Little by little I typed 100 pages of Threshold and then every time I would open the file I would be greeted with anxiety and insecurity so there it sat.
A few weeks ago however I found a brand new spiral notebook and Threshold took off. In fact as I wrote in my insane handwriting that will be awful to transcribe back onto my computer, the title of the book began to make sense. Instead of focusing on my outline, (which I have sense lost) I have just been sitting, mostly with headphones, listening to music and diving into whatever character seems to come to mind.  I don't worry about pacing, or character development.   Rather I have been trying to free my characters, allowing them to lead their own way. Instead of a linear plot I have just been writing and sure enough everything has come together without any poking or prodding.

The characters exist on their own and I am simply a vessel for them to tell their story, when I try and make up their stories it becomes contrived and I feel as though I am betraying them, forcing them to say things that they wouldn't or place them in situations that they would have avoided.  We've all read stories that were dictated by deadlines rather than by the story itself.  I didn't want to do this to my labor of love, no matter how agonizing it has been.   

In short, every story asks something different from me, and sometimes the largest difficulty is deciphering what that is.  But now my characters and I have finally becoming comfortable with one another and the trust is there, they want me to tell their story, just as long as I promise not to distort it.

Enough procrastinating on my part, time to get back to listening to what the voices in my head have to say.

*When writers say there are people living in their mind that they have no control over this is what they mean. (Writers do say that right????)


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