I’m writing a novel! It’s true.
Well, sort of.
I bombed through three chapters of what feels like solid narrative, gleefully congratulating myself for finally embracing my Inner Author. I have a story to tell! I am the shiz!
Garbaggio. Nada. The fiction machine came to a grinding halt.
So instead of actually writing a novel, I found myself announcing to anyone who will listen that I totally plan to write a novel and work has begun and I’m very excited and yes, I will autograph their copy when my (as yet unwritten) novel is published. Because it totally will be. When I write it. Fo sho.
All this announcing, it’s pretty much just like writing a novel, except with way more italicized bluster. Really.
After a while, though, my Inner Terrorist started to point out that I really hadn’t written anything at all, and maybe the well was dry, and I should just give up and become an alcoholic recluse. Or a cat lady. Or, you know, something productive.
Instead, I emptied out my email archives and bumped into an interview with Lois McMaster Bujold I’d sent myself ages ago:
Lois McMaster Bujold is one of my very favourite writers. I’d actually considered including her in my Accidental Heroines post: every night for months I retreated into LMB’s universes, where strong women solve every problem thrown at them by capricious gods and/or fate with grace, dignity, and a hot boyfriend by her side. They were the perfect escape from a crazy time and just plain saved my life.
Video evidence that Ms Bujold will write an idea out, and then wander away to read and research and think until inspiration strikes again? PHEW. What a relief. Plus, bonus: I might have something in common with Lois McMaster Bujold. That totally makes me a writer!
I therefore flipped the bird at my Inner Terrorist. I went away and did something else for awhile. I cleaned my house (cough – picked up laundry off the floor and then ate a cookie – cough). I swam. I tried not to fret. I failed at not fretting. I fretted.
And, I did the thing my little dilettante brain loves to do best: I explored the internet. I searched random words like ‘demons,’ and ‘Eleusinian mysteries’ (thank the nine muses for Wikipedia). I paid careful attention to my RSS reader because it’s always full of smart, educational stuff.
And just like that, the creative dam broke open and ideas began to flow again.
I have a character that I really like. She is a key figure in the story I want to tell, important not only to the narrative but to the theme, to the point I want to make. For the last few months, she’s just stood there as the action happened around her, exuding all the personality of that stick of old gum you find in the bottom of every backpack. Sometimes – actually, most times – she’d start to cry whenever someone startled her by talking to her. I mean really, this girl, she was killing me… because she was passive and malleable.
Not any more.
Because two lightning bolts shot out of my brain today after a week or so of chewing over this one teeny bit of writing advice. One, my character is actually quite awesomely subversive and up to all kinds of stuff. And two, I will be writing my novel from multiple points of view so that I can let her speak for herself.
PS: thank you Emma Coats! You rock.