…or, Why Lizmonster Hasn’t Been Writing.
It’s not because I haven’t had anything to say. I have more stuff rolling around in my head than I know what to do with. That’s the wonderful thing about being a writer: No matter what happens, good or bad, it’s story material. And when I’m really stressed out, I tend to drift mentally, thinking about writing, where the story parameters and the outcome are under my control.
Work has sucked. There, I’ve said it. I won’t go into details on a public blog – but work has Just. Plain. Sucked. for a while now. It looks like it might ease up over Christmas, but no guarantees. (Actually, I don’t care about guarantees. I am taking the week after Christmas off. It’s my vacation time, and I’m entitled to it, so DON’T EVEN THINK about making me change it.)
I wonder, sometimes, if I became a writer because it’s such a useful coping mechanism. The first time I remember making up a story I was probably not even reading much yet – I was maybe 5 or 6, and I had insomnia. (Or possibly I just had trouble going to sleep – I’m not sure you can really call it “insomnia” when you’re talking about a little kid.) (Sorry, slipped into Mom-mode there for a second.) My parents told me to tell myself a story, possibly because they were so tired of sitting there with me while I lay there wide awake. (Instead, my brother became the victim – but boy, he was pretty damn good at falling asleep while I was talking.)
Since then, it’s become what I do when I need to pass the time. And sometimes I need to pass days and days and days of really unpleasant, unavoidable time.
At these times, I write a lot about people fighting. I think this is because I am so bad at fighting in the real world. I never think of the right things to say, and I let myself get dragged off point when I’m supposed to be making a reasoned argument. When I write, my characters always say exactly what is needed for the action to move in the direction I want it to. I have one character who is, consistently, a real jerk when he loses his temper – but when he gets over it, he is genuinely sorry. I actually enjoy writing him when he’s mad, because he’s otherwise kind of a nice guy. When I write, he can be briefly awful – and then forgiven, if it makes sense.
But honestly? Sometimes he turns his nasty temper on people who richly deserve it. And even if he’s sorry about it later, I’m not sorry I made him yell at them. He is who I would like to be, sometimes, apart from being fictional (and a guy). He may say things he regrets – but he always comes up with the best words to express his thoughts.
Me? I mostly fume, and keep quiet, and think of great comebacks a day or two later. (Some of those end will end up in the novel.)
The writing I have been doing since my laptop recovered has been therapeutic, mostly. I still haven’t gone back to my NaNoWriMo novel. I think I may leave that one until January. I’ve gone back and re-read some of it, and there is a fair amount of it I think is usable. I find myself pleasantly surprised, despite the fact that there is also an incredible amount of dreck in there. I still need to do the outlining and finishing before I can really say I have a finished first draft – but it’s got more life in it, I think, than my 2010 work.
Except I am so sentimental, and I’m feeling a little sad about my ending. It’s the right ending for the story, but…still. Sigh. I’m never going to publish anything if I don’t learn to let my characters suffer a bit. In the real world, happiness and contentment are great (and I look forward to having them again). In the fictional world, they are your last 5 pages, if they are part of the story at all. Nobody is going to read it if there is no conflict.