I’m rather annoyingly bored.
One would think that something like this would be nigh on impossible, considering that I’m currently sitting in London, listening to cars going by and what I think is thunder out of the open window. Maybe bored isn’t quite the right word. But I feel like this time around, I haven’t been nearly as productive as before. The last time I spent a week in London, I used it to produce a short story, one of my favorite ones I’ve written. I wanted to use this time on vacation in order to start writing again, but I just haven’t been able to stick to a single idea that I want to develop. Because there really isn’t a single idea that I want to write on right now. I keep jumping from plot to plot with little motivation to make any headway with any of them.
And for some of the time here I’ve been reading good books and doing good things (like seeing a Shakespeare play in front row seats for under $10), and when I’m doing those things I’m not that bored. But come on—it’s Friday the 13th and nothing interesting has happened yet.
And I’m going to be awake all hours of the night because I took a nap earlier today because I had nothing better to do than sleep!
(And I realize I’m ridiculous because I’m complaining while I’m in London. I hate myself even more for that.)
I think the problem is that I need deadlines, and real incentive to meet them, in order to really go places with my writing. I also occasionally need prompts, though in some cases deadlines spur me to continue or finish things that I’ve already thought up for other purposes. That’s why I like NaNoWriMo, and writing for Julie. I’m given a specific amount of time in which to do things, and a schedule to keep to (in the case of NaNo), and that’s comforting for me. Which is interesting, because I originally started doing NaNo to move outside of my comfort zone (because my other discomfort comes from writing anything that’s not polished the first time around).
Another problem is that I see editing as work. I don’t see it as nearly as joyful as the writing process. What I think I need to realize is that rewriting is just as important as writing. I think I need to remove the word “editing” from my vocabulary and replace it with “rewriting”—because it emphasizes the fact that it’s the writing that’s important.
For instance, I’ve been trying to edit—ahem, I mean, rewrite—Kes Running, the most recent November Novel, for some time. I keep getting bored, or skipping ahead to the good parts. I really need to take the time to notice which parts I’m skipping—because those are the ones that ought to be deleted from the final draft! More than that...I feel that Kes’s story really needs to be finalized before I go to college. It’s really a product of my pre-college anxieties, and I think it would sound false if I finished it at a much later date. Hell, it’s about a girl who runs away because she doesn’t get into the college she wants to go to! I don’t think I can honestly write that as a college student and make it sincere. I don’t know for how long I’ll be able to draw upon those reserves of dejection that the initial rejections made me feel. I should tap them while I still can.
(And yes, I realize I’m manipulating my own emotions in order to write. It’s really the way to make it sound the most real. And it doesn’t hurt all that much any more...)
Another issue I have with writing that I really need to fix is my problem with plotting. Simply said, I cannot plot out an entire story before I start writing it. Once I start writing it, I get bored with it because I haven’t plotted it. See the dilemma? Really, I ought to just be harsher with myself about plotting things out, but it seems like every time I try that, something comes up that I just have to write, and the voice in the back of my head assures me that I’ll be able to fit it into my plot outline at a later date... I honestly think I have about six unfinished plot outlines for Azuria (because before I ever had time to finish one outline, I re-thought the story and so that plot actually changed).
Then there’s the problem that, while I do write for fun (or, more accurately, while I do enjoy writing), I also want to be published, and it’s really hard to stop thinking about that when I’m writing. So I get into arguments with myself about whether or not something is “publishable.” Kes Running would certainly be publishable by DAW (my publisher of choice) by the time I finish with it. But Azuria, which has been my pet project before I even knew the girl who named Kes, was started when I was much younger and therefore the characters are much younger. In fact, it was intended as young adult fiction. DAW doesn’t publish young adult fiction. Now, it wouldn’t be hard for me to remake Azuria so that the characters were a bit older and things were a bit more, well, adult. But part of me wonders if I should have to do this. Part of me wonders how true I ought to stay to my initial vision of the story.
And then there are the random short stories I write that don’t seem to fit anywhere. They’re not easy to classify. The ones that I’ve written for Julie have managed to fit into their required categories, but the stuff I write for fun frequently defies categorization. The closest term I’ve coined is speculative fiction, but even that doesn’t cover everything—one of my favorite stories is about a Parisian college student who pays tuition by working late nights in a bar! And the political romance I want to write certainly doesn’t fit the mold most people place me in.
(I hate that, by the way. I hate how, when my dad first read the aforementioned story involving the Parisian college student, he was so surprised that I had written it and obviously enjoyed it much more than anything I’ve written since. I hate how mom assumes that I only write and read sci-fi. I hate how Corinne snubs me for not reading “literature.” I think the load of it is bullshit.)
And (I notice I start a lot of my sentences with “and”) the one story I might possibly want to plot out thoroughly before I write is starting to seem not so publishable. Really, on the surface it seems very stereotypical, in the way a bad romance novel is stereotypical. It’s really easy for me to describe it, but the description I most frequently give makes me realize just how shitty it sounds. And I know that when I write it, it’ll be ten times better, but I can’t help but thinking that somewhere along the line, an editor will read it and say, “What the crap? It’s just Jane Eyre with werewolves!”
At which point the only thing I’d be able to do to correct the editor would be to mention that there’s only one werewolf, and there’s a bit of Pride and Prejudice, too, if you look for it.
See what I mean about it sounding shitty?
The story behind this story actually starts around sophomore year, wherein a few great things happened in quick succession: I read Cyrano de Bergerac, Austin got me into musical theater, and the movie of “The Phantom of the Opera” came out. The result of this was an epiphany of sorts that Cyrano, Phantom, and the other stories like them were all just twisted versions of the old tale of Beauty and the Beast (there was also an epiphany relating to the fact that all of these stories were of French origin, but we’ll get back to that later). Project Gutenberg being the godsend that it is, it was only a short while before I had the e-text of the original Beauty and the Beast in front of me and had read that, too. I began to rather idolize that particular plot—the idea that a person could see past the surface and grow to love another for something beyond appearances, the idea that a relationship of sorts between two people could develop the better qualities in both parties. Add to this that Belle was always my favorite Disney Princess (because she was the only brunette and because she liked books almost as much as me) and it’s understandable that I became rather obsessed. What was my response to such an obsession? A rather logical one, actually. I decided I would attempt my own rewriting of the classic tale. But how, I wondered, would I keep it interesting?
The answer came to me in a single word while sitting in MUN during junior year. And the word was werewolves.
Now, I’m not the type who’s particularly fond of this specific portion of supernatural lore. Not that I have anything against werewolves—in fact, one of my favorite fictional characters happens to be one—but I don’t really have anything for them, either. Which was why, initially, the idea was an odd one. Surely, werewolves were something that other people wrote about. But the idea was just such a good one. It allowed my “beast” character to actually be a beast, but only for a small portion of each month, so that his human side could also be explored. Hell, he could even hide his lycanthropy from my “beauty” for a while, if he wanted. Let people think he just had attitude problems. And the fact that he could hide his condition meant that I could make the story seem rather realistic from the start. When I first thought up this idea, I cackled to myself at the look on my readers’ faces when they realized what I’d done.
Now, I’m starting to wonder if this is the best of ideas, and I’m wondering this for the stupidest of reasons, and that stupidest of reasons is: how do you write a back cover synopsis for a story that essentially hinges upon something that doesn’t get revealed until halfway through? It’s no fun if the readers know that he’s a werewolf from the start, but if there’s nothing special about him, who’s going to read it to begin with?
Stupid reason, I know. But nonetheless, I continue to stumble over it. (You know what I want for Christmas? A way to talk myself out of stupid reasons for not writing. Also, the X-Files movie on DVD, but that’s for another day.)
And it bugs me, because I actually like the idea for the story. I actually have a plot for it (almost) because I’m tentatively stitching together one that follows the typical hero’s journey. Once I’ve laid that down as a skeleton, I plan on fleshing it out with more of the details that can add pacing to things...and the strangest part is, for possibly the first time, I’m actually looking forward to this part. I usually hate planning. But part of me thinks that, this time around, the planning could be fun. At the very least, it could be interesting. One of the things I like about this story is that it’s giving me a chance to pay homage to some of my favorite stories. Beauty and the Beast, obviously, but also Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice, from which I’ll be pulling ideas about the interactions between my two principal characters. Stop for a second and picture someone who combines the moodiness and quick temper of Mr. Rochester with the pride and arrogance of Mr. Darcy. Then, imagine him hiring as a servant someone with Jane’s quiet determination and Elizabeth’s curiosity. Throw in the fact that everyone in the village is sure the man is cursed, so he’s had barely any human contact...and I think things start to get rather interesting.
Really, I just ought to write this. I ought to stop worrying and write this. Or at least, I ought to stop worrying and plan this.
But at least writing about it incessantly has helped me to think it out a bit more. Usually when I complain about myself, I’m not smart enough to get it in writing. Lucky for me, this time I managed to. Hopefully it helps me out in the future.
Until then, I think I’m going to read, because although my fingers are warmed up by the typing, my lap is overheated by the laptop’s fan and I’m in a good book anyway, so there.