Thursday, May 20, 2010

Writer's block . . . Causes and cures.

So . . . I have a new book I'm supposed to be writing. It's a YA dystopian novel which was based on a short story I wrote. I had sent my manuscript for Gather the Broken to an agent, who said I was a talented writer, but she couldn't represent my book due to the fact that she had sold something similar a couple of years ago. She asked that I keep her in mind for anything else that I write. So I proceeded to tell her about the short story. She liked the basis of it and told me that if I wanted to flesh out the story, she'd be happy to look at an outline and the first 50 pages. Sweet right?!

Yeah . . . except that besides the plot outline, which graciously presented itself to me about a week ago, I've only written about three pages since then.

Normally what happens when I write is that I just sit with the material . . . meaning that I let it wander around in my brain while I'm going about my daily business. It floats there and I think about it, but not heavily. Somehow during the course of doing menial tasks, it all clicks and comes together and I know what I'm going to write about. It's almost like magic. A lot of writer's will tell you that they have a process and a lot of them will tell you that they don't always know where the story comes from—it just appears. It presents itself like a mirage on a lonely stretch of desert and you question the "realness" of it. Yet there it is, fleshing itself out on the computer screen, flowing from your fingertips like a concerto on piano keys. It's beautiful and inspiring and makes your soul sing when at last it happens.

This is NOT what's happening to me with this new genre venture. Keep in mind that while I do have one book completed and I grew immensely during the writing of it, not only professionally, but personally, I now find myself questioning my own talent. I have the vampire novel thing down. The first book is done and the second one is coming along better than I hoped. It's flowing and it comes easily. This switching gears thing is harder than I thought it might be.

I was just talking to my good friend about the fact that I'm choking on this simply because I'm afaid. At first, I thought it might be due to the fact that for the last 2-3 years, I've lived in Vampville while writing Gather the Broken . . . living and breathing the characters that grace the pages within. They're like my buddies, my babies. Do I subconsciously feel like I'm abandoning them by moving onto to another genre and a different book entirely? Perhaps. While I'm aware that these are fictional characters in my head, they've become such a part of me that perhaps I shouldn't ignore that fact? The insane part of what makes you a great writer is the fact that you can immerse yourself into the world you've created. I do live there while I'm writing about it, and even sometimes when I'm not writing about it. Being yanked out of bed by fictional characters at three o'clock in the morning to write, is the proof in the pudding!

Maybe the cure to my writer's block is to have a meeting with Shane and Danie and Gabriel and the whole Order of the Shadows crew and simply tell them . . . I'm not abandoning you . . . I simply need you to share my brain with these new characters. They need to live too and there is plenty of room in there for you all and plenty of love to go around, my children. Now play nice, and let Mommy work!

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