Discouraged…Growing Pains

I’m feeling rather dejected this morning.  I only have one scene left to rough out in this very very rough draft of HiS, which I should be excited about, right?

I’m not particularly.  I don’t feel remotely like celebrating.  Because it doesn’t feel in any way done to me.  All I can do as I look at this manuscript is not think, yay, I came up with a plot from beginning to end and put it on paper, but instead Holy crap these characters are flat and they don’t change enough.  Something is missing. It’s a great irony to me that characterization (as in successfully showing character arcs) is a problem for me.  You’d think being in psychology, I’d be good at it.  Possibly it’s because as a former therapist, I’m very aware of the sad truth that in real life most people DON’T change and grow–not as they should.  As a species we’re very resistant to change.    Pot sent me a quote, that I thought was great:

“I did not start by trying to describe the folks next door—but by inventing people who did things the folks next door would never do. I could summon no interest or enthusiasm for “people as they are”—when I had in my mind a blinding vision of people as they could be.” -Ayn Rand

So, of course fiction isn’t real life and I need to figure this out because for better or worse a problem and it’s weakening my book in a big way.

In the context of doing some broad stroke plotting for my next project, I got an electric cattle prod in the ass from my CP in one of those very necessary but painful conversations about “hey this is still a big weakness for you and we should nip this in the bud at the planning stages”.   The time for ego stroking and “hey you’ve really improved on X, Y, Z with this project” is past, and now I’m left looking at a book that is technically structurally sound but nowhere near where it needs to be.  God help me when she reads a full draft instead of just hearing me talk about it.

I guess I’m having one of those days where despite the fact that I’ve learned a whole lot about craft and what makes a story work, I still have so much left to learn.  I feel a little like Sisyphus, I guess.  Like even though I’ve done all this work and pushed up the mountain, I got to a ridge and suddenly realized I have this huge long journey left to go.  And part of me just wants to sit down and bawl.  And then I remember my mother telling me that this is not a reasonable way to make a living, and I get pissed off, put my shoulder to that boulder and start pushing again.  I am not a quitter.  I have never quit anything in my life other than ballet in the 3rd grade (it was for the best for all involved, I promise), and I’m certainly not going to stop now on something that is this important to me.

But maybe for today I can be allowed a pity party.

6 thoughts on “Discouraged…Growing Pains

  1. Indeed. Throw a fit, stomp your feet, scream to the world how unfair it is. Consider burning your manuscript, not writing ever again, and cutting all the extra stress that amounts to a second job right out of your life, because you just can’t hack it, and you’ll never be able to.

    Then sit your butt back down, and breath life into those characters. Make them *better* than real…make them fiction.

  2. My son didn’t master HALO in a day. He practiced and practiced, and practiced. 😀
    One day you WILL reach a point where you will KNOW in your gut where the flaws and weak spots are and you will specifically go to your CP and say, “take a look at this. how do we fix it?”

    I guess what i”m trying to say in my own lopsided way is, as writers when we stop striving to better our writing and stop trying to improve our skills, we’re in deep shit. You never stop learning, so once you overcome this particular weakness, your chops will get bigger, you’ll tackle bigger stuff and then you’ll find a new weakness to overcome–and so it goes.

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