Happy Thanksgiving! Holy cow, I ate a lot. Had dinner with the McQueens, my sister’s husband’s grandparents, and all the inlaws. My sister-in-law can cook a mean chocolate pie. Holy cow. Delicious.
So, when I wasn’t eating or groggily digesting over at my in-laws’ house, I was writing. It was pretty tough, to be honest. Even though yesterday I got through the climax of the chapter that was hanging me up, I still felt really stuck today. It took me more time than I’d expected to finish the chapter, and I didn’t know how to start the next one.
I was really frustrated the whole day. There was nothing to do, and nowhere really to go. I took a break and walked down to campus in the middle of the afternoon, but it was dreary outside and all the buildings were closed. There was barely a car on the road, and even though it was good to get out and go for a walk, I didn’t come back with any good ideas for how to start things out.
To be honest, I contemplated putting this project on the back burner and working on something else for the next two months. My novel Genesis Earth is halfway done, and I could probably finish it by the end of January if I put this other novel away and focused all my energy on it. I’ve recently gotten excited about that story again.
But that would be an admission of defeat. I didn’t know if I needed to do that yet. I do have a lot of really good ideas for Hero in Exile–the trouble is, they all take place about a hundred pages from where I am right now! I should probably write them down before I finally get there and realize that I’ve forgotten them all.
I figured that things are hard just because I’ve been so distant from the story these past few weeks. I decided I needed to start the chapter out with some action–or, if not action, at least with some dramatic momentum–and figured the best way to do that was to have my two main characters kiss in the first scene. I was going to do that somewhere in the chapter, but I figured it would be better to start things out with it rather than gradually build up. After all, that’s not the climax–the climax is much more twisted and painful than that.
But then, before I could start, I had to figure out just how, exactly, these two characters would end up in that kind of a situation. I mean, it was hard for me to work through their motivations in my mind. I’ve been building up the tension for the last few chapters, but it all felt so distant, and it was hard to remember exactly how these characters are supposed to be feeling.
It was really frustrating. I had this kissing scene all figured out in my mind a few weeks ago, but I’d forgotten it all. As I kept mulling through my characters’ motivations, I got more and more frustrated. After all, things have changed so much from my original idea. Are these even the right characters to pull my story through to the end?
I started wondering if I’d made a mistake by starting the story when I did–whether all my ideas had truly come together to the point where they were ready to begin. Back about a month before I started, I thought I was ready–but now? I don’t know. It’s very frustrating and discouraging.
After all, maybe I bit off too much with this novel. My first novel, The Phoenix of Nova Terra, was more of a straight up adventure story. There were some deeper ideas and ethical dilemmas in it, but I felt like I had to slog through those parts. They didn’t work out as good as I’d hoped–the main focus was the adventure, the suspense. With Hero in Exile, I want to focus a lot more on deeper questions–like, what is honor? What is heroism? How do you keep your honor in a dishonorable world? Do you have to prove your heroism through some grand, daring act, or does true heroism manifest itself in other ways? These were some of my original questions, but now…I don’t know how it’s turning out.
As a side, note, that’s where I was going with my question a few weeks ago about depicting immorality as immoral without watering it down–how do you get your characters to deal with these challenging issues without driving away readers? It’s tough, and my main frustration has been that the scenes just don’t seem to be well executed–I’m afraid that they fall flat. I could be wrong, I could be overexaggerating, I could be trying to write a perfect first draft, and I could be doing all three of these at the same time, but it’s been really frustrating.
Oh well. At least I know I’m pushing myself.
I don’t really believe in writer’s block, but I guess you could say that I had something like it today. I knew where I wanted to go, and I knew what I wanted to happen, I just didn’t know how to get there. So then, after checking email and facebook some twenty million times, I opened up my outline and decided to work on that. Ten minutes later, I remembered how I’d envisioned this scene, and I set down and finally started the next chapter.
Romance is kind of hard for me to write, not only because of my lack of experience, but because it’s hard not to fall into cliches when you’re describing things. Because of that, it took me a few hours to slog through the end of the opening scene–but I did it! And now, I’m excited about this story again! I know where we are, what we’re doing, and exactly where we’re going over the next few scenes. It’s great! I’m FINALLY unstuck!
So now, I just have to keep up at a good pace before I forget everything again. Shouldn’t be too hard for the rest of this vacation, but the next two weeks are going to be a tough sprint to the end of the semester. Still, it won’t be impossible. And after, I’ve got more than two weeks of winter break–with the netbook I went ahead and ordered a couple of days ago! Hooray! I can hardly wait!