Thursday, January 07, 2010

Frustration and the Snow

For some reason, my biggest frustration days in writing coincide with nasty weather.  For example, here I am--stuck in Ohio while another half a foot of snow piles up outside, my husband stranded and snowbound in a hotel two counties away because it's illegal to drive and I find I'm at a staggering impasse with my daily writing/editing schedule.  I just can't write.

Why is that?

It may be because the last few days I'm been struggling with my writing, trying to figure out what's 'wrong' with it. It's not technical.  My first drafts are MUCH cleaner than a lot of things I've read from the slush pile.  That much, at least, I can be self-congratulatory about.  Could it be my premises? Are they just...eek!...not that good?

Somehow, I don't think so.  My submissions garner enough positive feedback (ie--requests for manuscripts) that I think the premises must be fairly sound and interesting.  So, weeding out the two big factors there, what am I left with?

Characters. Plot development. Plot resolution. Credibility.

But here again, no. The feedback I get from my various stories, is conflicting.  Some love my characters; some people don't.  Some readers are totally involved in my plots, to the point of sending me hate mail when I (joyfully) kill off one of their favorite characters.  I have a special folder in my inbox for those emails--they are simultaneously enjoyable and terrifying.  My continuity lines are very intricate for just about any story I write, but I make damn certain I resolve everything without using any evil deus ex machinae in the process.  And are my characters credible?

I hope so. A lot of them are me--or people close to me.  Disguised, of course, but still.  Writers are supposed to write what they know, right?  Well I write the people I know. 

Maybe it's my narrative voice.  I tend to write in first person a lot, and assume an extremely casual narrative style when I do so.  Maybe I should stick to third person and a more formal narrative voice?

But I tried that and got panned for it.

Hell, I don't know WHAT the problem is. Unless...

Unless there's not really a problem.  Unless I'm injuring myself by second-guessing my choices.  Maybe I should just toss all that self-doubt in the bin and barge full steam ahead. Maybe I should just pull my next storyline out of the hat and get going on it, make it work, invest everything I am and feel and think into it and just let the words fly.  Maybe...maybe...

Maybe I need to stop worrying about 'maybe.' Maybe now it's time to set those worries aside, put my fingers on the keys and just. write. the. damn. story.

Go ahead.  You can take this and run with it.  If you're one of my writers, you've heard me say it before.  If you're my poor unfortunate editor, you can run for cover.  It's a mantra, a way of life, a way of thinking.

Just write the damn story.

Just write.