Another double post Wednesday! (Yeah, that’s going to keep up for a number of months, until I get rid of my ever-growing backlog of quotes.)
Anyway, it’s been a very slow month for me as a writer. Like, deadly slow. I haven’t had much time for writing, not writing fiction, anyway. I have to spend a lot of time reading for class, and I have a paper due every week, which doesn’t help.
But I think it’s also just that I’m not really very motivated to write right now. It’s this NaNo novel that’s been hanging over my head since November. I don’t want to abandon it, but I’m not sure I can finish it. It’s not that I don’t know what happens next, or even that the next scene is going to be all that hard to write. Well, it’ll be hard in one sense, since I’ll have to describe things, and that’s my biggest weakness. But there’s no painful emotions in the scene. After I got through all the turbulence of Ashley having to come out to his best friend at the same time as he confesses his love for him, and then the ensuing whirlwind…writing the characters discovering the now-ancient ruins of a far-future weapons factory shouldn’t be that difficult.
But I just can’t get up the interest to write it. I’ve started re-reading everything I’ve written so far, in the hopes of renewing my interest, but it’s not working. I think the problem is that the novel is incompatible with the characters I invented it for.
I’ve gone into aspects of this before in my IWSG posts, so I’ll just summarize. Because Ashley and Paddy were taking over my brain, I thought I could exorcise them by making them the stars of their own novel. But I didn’t want to write the gruesome story of the deaths originally planned for them (couldn’t have written it even if I’d wanted to, in fact), and I knew I wasn’t up to the challenge of writing a realistic novel about their struggles to come to terms with their love and fit into a society that wasn’t ready to embrace homosexuality. Even if I was a mature enough person to write something that serious and down to earth, the required research into the late 1960s or the early 1970s would have taken far too long.
So I gave them a new setting. In the original version, it was already established that they had fought in Vietnam, so I had them in a helicopter that went through a timeslip and ended up in the super-distant future. I think the setting and explanation I came up with are kind of interesting, and it might make a nice story in someone else’s hands. However, I’m spending as much time on the romance between the two leads as I am on the story, and the romance is totally freakin’ irrelevant to the story (as well as being utterly unrealistic). And, perhaps worse, this story is just not the right place for these two characters. They belong in the real world, not a distant future filled with all sorts of oddities. (A strange statement considering they were originally dead backstory characters for a goofy, anime-inspired, reincarnation-and-robots novel.)
I don’t know what to do with the realization that my characters and my novel are incompatible. I can’t just delete them from it and go on without them. Among other reasons, none of the other soldiers from Vietnam are men whose heads I can get inside. The one of them I like best, Caesar, is the brother of a Black Panther, so he’s paranoid that the brass were always watching him, expecting him to be doing undercover work for his brother. As a white woman of a much later era, I could never get into his mindset enough to write his POV; I know my limits, and that’s way past them. One of the others is an uneducated country boy, and then there’s the career military NCO, two more I’d never be able to understand. So right now the only other character I can give a POV is Ricki, the time-displaced 80s girl. If I were to remove Ashley and Paddy, I’d have to invent two new people to put in their place. And, honestly, if I did that, I think I’d also do myself a favor and get rid of the whole “helicopter over Vietnam” thing, and make it a small plane somewhere in the US. Caesar could still be there, as is, perhaps having just been discharged from his military service. And the country boy wouldn’t require any change except that he’d be a civilian instead of a soldier. The NCO would have to go, unless he was maybe someone who trained new troops stateside. But with such a massive re-write…ack. I think I’d want to finish draft one before I tried it, but I don’t think I can finish draft one. (Catch-22 and back where we started…)
I had, for a brief time, been pretty charged up about the experiment I wrote about last month. I even made up a lot of characters, some great story details, and I had a blast making up all sorts of totally useless superpowers for the squad of losers who make up the male lead’s gang. I even wrote the first, I dunno, couple hundred words. Just a bit that came to me and was really fun. (That reminds me, I was thinking of posting some of it on the blog at some point.) My enthusiasm wore down a little, though, perhaps in part because I kept telling myself to finish the NaNo novel first. I’m pretty sure I could get the enthusiasm back quickly enough, but should I? I mean, shouldn’t I finish the other one first?
I dunno. Maybe it doesn’t even matter. I mean, it’s not like I have a lot of time for it. Between class, museum work, and blogging, I have very little time for anything else. (Though blogging will take up less time after I finish researching for April A-to-Z. Slightly less, anyway. Maybe I spend too much time on my blogs…)
It doesn’t help, of course, that my arm is getting worse, and it’s now painful to try to type in most positions. I’ve been put on new medication, which hasn’t helped, they did another MRI, which revealed nothing, and now I’m scheduled for a spinal tap next week, so they can find out if this is MS or something else. (I’m rooting for it to be something else. From what little I’ve read, I really don’t want to have MS.) I don’t want to go through such a horrible procedure, but if it lets them figure out what’s wrong with me and thus enables them to fix it, then it’ll be worth it. But I’m told I’ll need to spend 48 hours or more afterwards just lying down and recovering. Which is a problem, because lying down makes my arm worse. Maybe I can lie down on my back and read, holding the book up at arm’s length. That might work. Maybe.
Ugh. My life sucks at the moment. That’s the short version.