Waiting for "The Call"

“Honey, it’s always crap. Every book I write is crap. It’s my job to fix the crap afterwards,” according to Nora Roberts. Well, I've got it half right. Still working on the "fixing it" part. "Trust your characters to be complex enough and to have enough emotional baggage. Force them to make hard choices." Advice from Michelle Styles that might help!

On not writing August 16, 2009

Filed under: General strangeness of life — Autumn Macarthur @ 8:26 pm
Tags: , ,

I’ve been feeling low. Maybe it’s because I’m tired, maybe it’s because I’m post-viral, maybe it’s because I’m staring down the barrel of 50, and I haven’t achieved a single one of my life goals. Yeah, that’s it,because just writing it makes me want to well up in pathetic self-pitying tears.
 
I also think I have gone very wrong with my writing. I’m trying to write what I think I “should” write, not allowing myself to discover what comes naturally for me.
 
I know I need to just drop Luk and Emma’s story and start on the next one. Luk and Emma’s story has served it’s purpose. It was a learner story, not one that was ever meant to be submitted. I only started it because I hate those royalty stories second only to sheik stories (though I’ve read some good stories of both, I think it’s such a crazily unreal premise), and wanted to see if I could do one. Then I made that promise to my writing group that I would finish it, so I’ve kept going with it long after I wanted to dump it. Quite simply, the story sucks, because it hinges on the hero doing something too stupid- losing control and kissing the heroine where they could be seen, in the town square the night she is announced as the next princess. He just wouldn’t do that, no matter how tempted he was, because what he stood to lose was too important to him. To avoid that I created a whole convoluted kidnap thing, as a device to force them to spend the night together. But for that to work, the heroine has to do the stupid thing and run away and get herself lost. Only way to avoid that is to have a real villain kidnap her, but then that got even more complicated, with the villain a more interesting character than the hero. So I went back to the first idea, but I keep getting stuck on the fact that my hero would simply never make that mistake.

This story was never going to work, because I started with a premise and then tried to create the characters to fit it. I like Emma, but Luk has never felt real to me. It might conceivably work redone in first person, purely Emma’s POV, in a more chick-lit style. That idea excites me. If Luk doesn’t have to explain why he does something so out of character as kiss Emma in public, because the reader is in her head only, reeling with her shock and surprise, it could possibly work. I like the way what goes on inside the hero’s heart and head is a mystery in first person heroine POV, it’s more the feel of old romances before hero’s POV came in. Less emotional intensity, but more like real life.
 
Our lives are already too full of miserable things that have to be done, whether we like then or not. Writing was starting to feel like yet another one. I am going to forget about the NWS. There’s no point putting in a crappy story that bores me silly- what’s the point of wasting the reader’s time giving a critique unless I intend to follow through?

The idea of rewriting Luk and Emma in first person is interesting, and I’m tempted to do it, though maybe that’s just an avoidance strategy so I don’t start on Nell and Mace’s story.

On the plus side, taking the weekend off from writing has let me do the big clear-up at home I’ve known for ages was desperately needed, but had been putting off so I could write. I’ve thrown out loads of old paperwork I’d been saving for some unknown reason (every bank statement since I arrived in the UK thirteen years ago, for example- why?), and rearranged my bookshelves. I had dusty books packed solid two deep on the shelves in my bedroom, but the new shelves in the hall and the sitting room I put up months ago were inexplicably empty.

I’m hoping this represents something symbolic, some sort of getting my house in order on an inner level too.

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7 Responses to “On not writing”

  1. Caroline Says:

    I’m with you on the Royalty and Sheikh stories. They don’t do anything for me at all. I never buy them – but if pushed will get one out from the library. For some reason they just don’t seem “real” to me! Good luck on the next wip! Take care. Caroline x

  2. Lorraine Says:

    I completely disagree about there being no point subbing to the NWS unless you think the ms is publishable. Seriously, I knew my slaved over story (that I was by then thoroughly sick of) was never going to make it and I subbed it anyway, back in February and instead of writing something new and putting that in. Why? Because I needed advice, I wanted a professional eye to be cast over my ms, not to tell the things I already knew were wrong but to tell me the stuff that I (and my CPs) couldn’t see.
    The advice I got wasn’t just story specific but good advice about my style of writing sex scenes, little annoying writing habits I’d picked up, advice in general about the line I was targeting. And it was the best money I’ve ever spent.

    Yes, you’ve already identified some mistakes in your story and it takes a lot of guts to do that. It also takes guts to know it’s a learner ms too (but is no guarantee that later down the line you won’t re-work it).

    My advice is learn some more – sub the story and get all the professional tips you can, it can only make your next story all the stronger. Leave it for a while before revisiting and start your new story.

    Sending you a huge hug Jane and lots of love too

    Lorraine

  3. Rosie Montrose Says:

    Ref the NWS – I’m with Lorraine on this one – it’s a learning tool – if you send in your story then hopefully you’ll find out if what you think is wrong with it IS actually what’s wrong with it – and anything you hadn’t thought of by way of hints and tips will be a valuable bonus.

    Also – presumably it’s already paid for… I mean – if you really can’t face sending in the whole thing, then maybe send in the first 3 chapters and a synopsis (you need to check I’ve got that right, but I think you can) – and then it’ll be a learning process for writing a synopsis as well – or instead of the whole story.

    In the meantime I’ll really jealous of your decluttering. I know I should get into my own declucttering – but I know I won’t…

    Take care and keep at it. You can do it. What’s that quote about it being largely perseverance? I believe that.

    Rosie

  4. Caroline Says:

    Can I echo Lorraine as well? Send it in. You paid your dues. Get some feedback – you never know they may love it! I subbed mine in May and got some great advice back – and some major changes resulted from their comments I can tell you! So go for it. You’ve nothing to lose. Take care. Caroline x

  5. waitingforthecall Says:

    Still plenty more decluttering to do! Another chest of drawers in the bedroom to attack, then the kitchen is my next target.

    I agree with you all. I don’t want to waste the NWS opportunity, though I wish I had something better to submit. I have a first chapter than probably only needs one more pass through, and the second chapter probably only needs a couple more goes, but the rest is very rough! I can probably pull together a partial, which can be critiqued (they used to only read fulls, but will now look at partials). I’ve been thinking about trying my IS entry instead, though again it’s very rough!

    I’m just not sure of the value of a critique of writing which isn’t representative of what I want to do. On the other hand, if I get a good detailed critique (I read that the quality of the reader tends to decrease the closer to the closing date one submits, as they use the good ones first- don’t know how true that is!) there will probably be plenty worthwhile in it, even if it’s noting irritating repetitions and favourite words that are grossly overused.

  6. Eileen Says:

    Cleaning and reogranizing the home is very productive in an Artist’s Way sort of way 🙂 good energy being created by problems being solved.

    I think it’s great that you’ve learned so much through your most recent manuscript. I have Sheikh issues as well … it took me a long time just to realized what “Sheikh” was code for because for the life of me all I could think of was the kid I’d grown up in elementary school whose family practiced Sikhism … and I didn’t really understand how you could build a presents novel around a turban …

    anyway. This –>”I’m trying to write what I think I “should” write, not allowing myself to discover what comes naturally for me.” I think is one of the more telling statements in your last post. What do you think you “should” be writing and what do you “want” to write? I had this heart-to-heart with myself in May of this year when I realized that my absolute favorite type of novel was not the kind I wrote because I wanted people to take me seriously. Pish. Work with your energy. Go where your heart is.

  7. waitingforthecall Says:

    LOL Elaine, I knew I wasn’t spelling sheikh right! Hmm, a Sikh Presents has lots of possibilities… Don’t get me started!

    I started writing an answer to the rest of your comment, but it’s turning into an epic so I will start it as a new post.


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