26 October 2010

how not to write

I haven't been able to finish the book adventures I've started writing in the past several years.  Instead of considering my passion levels, I turned to the "how-to" approach.  According to all the "professionals", I was going about writing the wrong way.  I was treating it like a romance - knowing the general outline of what the story is about, but letting us (the characters and myself) experience it in the unforeseen way of life.  In my mind, the characters are living people whose experiences I write about so that they can exist outside of my brain.  The free will that they are allowed as 'living people' keeps me from being able to chart out the entire book, even though I am "in charge".  The ending, and the path to it, I am just as surprised by as my characters, though it will never stray from the general outline and reason of the book.

So I outlined a book idea in greater detail, and set myself a time schedule to meet: by the end of this deployment, I am to completely finish this book.  But I haven't been able to even get started on it.  Why?  Because not only am I not as moved to write the story due to lack of passion, but I also feel that there is no spark; it's been planned to death.  It took me a little while to realize this, and in fact I only reached the full knowledge of it last night.

Last night, I was browsing through Fiction Press to find something worthy of reading while I waited for my children to finally fall asleep.  Due to the nature of the site, true gems can be found - but you have to do a fair amount of digging to discover them.  As I dug through different stories, I couldn't help but notice the main themes, and I was heartbroken.  There are so many people (of varying ages) who buy into the sex/love myth.  I think we can all agree that sex does not equal love, but what I discovered is that the predominant belief is "love = sex".  It's evident anywhere you look in our culture, but for some reason the familiarity of the notion was missing last night.  I was so frustrated by this harmful misconception that I shut down the website and started writing . . .

It's an old idea I've had floating around, but the way it is coming out into story is a complete surprise to me . . . and I am so drawn to write about and get to know these new people.  The idea of writing is exciting again!

Will I get to writing that other, over-planned story?  Yes, eventually.  But first I need to throw out and forget all the plans except the basic idea, and get to know the characters again.  It will probably take a long time to do.  In the meantime, I'll whet my appetite for writing again by working on this old idea/new story.

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