Writing under Duress

Despite being on vacation the last few weeks, writing has not come easily. Finally, in desperation, I asked my writing group if they’d be interested in doing a writing challenge to help me with accountability. Fortunately, I’m not the only one struggling and they were open to playing along. So now I’m doing 500 words minumum daily without fail – on fiction. Not counting the blog.

For me, this is what I must do: write daily. The problem is that although I am a professional writer, and I take that seriously, writing fiction involves me immersing into another world. I don’t do that easily. I can do it shallowly, writing the characters going through the motions following the track of the plot as I think it ought to be. But without slipping through that mental doorway and getting into the head of my characters, the story doesn’t fully come to life.

It’s not, I assure you, that fiction writers live in a fantasy world. Outside my writing I can very clearly tell what the difference is between real and imagination. But by using the creative mind, I can bring the fantasy of the mind to life. And then, if I’m lucky, people who enjoy a story will buy it.

Hence the professional part. Because it’s more than just creating a story. You have to create a story that will satisfy your reader, to fill some need they have, even if it is only to slip the bounds of this mudball for a few short hours of amusement. You must make sure that the story is more than a shallow arc following a pre-plotted design. It needs to come to life, and that’s not an easy thing to do.

So, while my head isn’t clear, I can’t write like I need to. But I must write. It’s a paradox. I can manage, for a while, on my 500 words a day no matter what. I doubt I’ll capture the story the way it deserves, doing that. I can manage, for a while, pulling several stories together into a collection (which needs a name. Don’t know what to do about that.) and releasing that to keep my sales from going into freefall. Could I write shorts? Maybe, but that’s not enough and besides, I went from only writing shorts to only writing novels – two different methods. My novella-in-progress wants to be a novel, at least.

Art isn’t always easy. Ok, scratch that, never easy. Some days the visual is more possible than the telling in words. I painted, yesterday, because I had to wait for something and couldn’t dive into my writing the way I needed. Painting lets me boil it all down to the next brushstroke, controlling the bristles to do just what I want them to, leaving a mark in their wake that is permanent. No erasing, no copy-paste, no backspace. Just that line, and the purity of it on the paper once you lift the brush and hope that it works. With painting, unlike my writing, I never know quite where to stop, and usually discover to my dismay that I’ve gone too far, done too many marks, and muddled my internal vision beyond repair. This time, I prevented that to some extent by taking pictures of my work as I went along. Now… how to make the words flow like a brushstroke.

I don’t mean to whine. I just didn’t know what else to talk about today, and I need more coffee. In the meantime, have a dragon?

The preliminary lines for Sirocco Dragon

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