Tuesday, August 05, 2008

What I SHOULD be doing...

I should be writing!  

I should be sweeping and vacuuming, getting a bag together for the thrift store, helping my daughter get her bedroom ready to paint, dusting my piano, cleaning up the kitchen (which has gotten totally out of control for the last couple of days.)

I should be scrubbing the bathrooms.  I feel like a rich person, having those two bathrooms instead of one, but then I realize it's twice the amount of cleaning.  I shouldn't be blogging.  I should be scrubbing.  

I should be studying the Level 4 Rider pattern.  I should be making study notes for the written test.  I should be writing more lesson plans.

I should be writing a book instead of a blog post!

Here's the problem: blogging is so very easy compared to working on this rassafrackin book I started writing.  I think this is the worst, hardest, most distasteful novel project I've taken on, ever.  I've started so many that never got very far and were abandoned.  I'm past that point.  I don't think I can let myself quit writing a book anymore, now that I've finished a few and have one that I believe could become a real published book.  I can't walk away from this one.

Without getting into details --I don't want to give too much away yet -- it's a hard subject to write about.  I've discussed this with my writer-friends and come to the conclusion that it's perfectly fine to pick a nasty topic to write about.  Hey man, life ain't all roses and cupcakes. Somebody's got to talk about the stuff we'd all rather avoid.  

And what if by tackling something awful, I can bring a sense of hope to it?

I suspect the hardest thing about this book though, is that I feel... called  to do it.  I feel like this story was out there, and it came to me, and I'm the one who has to get it down into words.  I do not know why it has to be me.  I wish it didn't have to be me.  I'd rather let somebody else wrestle with this one.  

Isn't that the problem with being called to do something?  How often are we called to something we really want to do?  In comparison, how often do we get this unmistakable feeling that we have to do something difficult when all we want is to put the feet up and read a nice book?

There's a very strong possibility that I just don't do "nice books".

So I struggle along, sometimes only writing one word a day, just to say I've written.  Most of my novel writing these days is in my workbook.  I've taken my own advice.

I'm stepping back from the (hated) work in progress to concentrate on building the story.  In my workbook, I've been getting to know my main character.  She's one of the reasons that writing this book is so much like pulling teeth.  She's nothing like me.  All of my previous characters had little tiny bits of me, just enough that I could find some way to relate to them.

Not Alaina.  

She's tall, slim but chesty, with milky white skin and strawberry blonde hair.  She's cold.  She has one good friend.  She doesn't like animals.  She's blunt, factual, and to the point.  She doesn't even dress like me.  

I know why she's like this, in both nature and nurture.  I wrote pages and pages about her personality.  But I had to find one specific way that she and I would have a common interest or characteristic, if we could actually sit down for a conversation in some parallel universe...

I found it.  She's a packrat.  She loves old things, antiques, history.

She is cheap enough (like me) to avoid spending money on new stuff.  She is enough of a quality snob (um, sort of like me, I sheepishly admit) that she believes nothing is made as well as it used to be.  She hoards her favourite objects (much more cleanly and tidily than I would) because the junk of today could be tomorrow's treasured antiquity. 

A-ha.  I got her.

She's starting to warm up to me.  Slowly, though, which makes sense, because she's not one to trust easily.  

In my mind, I keep telling myself that I SHOULD be writing this new novel.  My instincts are telling me that by cautiously getting to know this fictional woman, I'm doing the right thing.  

I should be interviewing Alaina, writing down her likes and dislikes, what makes her tick. That's what I'm doing. As long there are enough clean dishes and undies and towels to go around, we're fine.  But now I must put the computer away for the day...


CindyDianne said...

Well, that Alaina is keeping you from us and I don't like her for it! But, do what you must. Don't mind us!


Heidi said...

I love this post! FInding that one thing you and her have in common is such a great way to warm up to her!

I do that at the beginning too: the writing pages about the characters, getting to know all their personality quirks, etc. I'm glad you found the common ground.

And like you told me: one word is better than none! When the story starts to really come, it will come.

terry said...

yeah, maybe you "should" be doing all those things, but sometimes, you need a break from all of that.

especially if it's to entertain us.

JKB said...

Hm. Doesn"t like animals? *Shakes head* but seriously. That other stuff is going to get done. (Time to put those kids to work! LOL)

She sounds a real twit, but ... you're right. Somehow you get all these stories. But they are GOOD stories. Uplifting, and depressing, and hateful, and wonderful...so what can ya do?

Blogging also helps the words flow nicer *this is my excuse too* so then it's OKAY to blog :)

Anita said...

I always know someone is going to be a problem if they don't like animals...

I've got several notebooks of character studies... I have lots of people in my head, just not enough talent to write their stories...

Biddie said...

I agree...There is something wrong with people that just flst out don't like animals.
Sincce when do you worry about what 'should' be done? I mean, says who? Who decides what should be done? Obviously, you SHOULD be writing.

coffeypot said...

When you talk to Alaina tell her, since she doesn't like animals, to bite me. Thank you!

Heidi the Hick said...

I'll have to convert her.

Her mom gets a dog once she goes off to college. That could be what brings her over to our side!

Olly said...

I'm always suspicious of people who don't like animals. I may be scared to death of some of them, but hey, I still love em all.

Lynn said...

I once wrote a character who I didn't think was anything like me. I discovered something in the writing of that novel. She IS like me. She IS me. Many of the characters are. Little pieces of me. Interests that I might have had in some different life, attitudes that I brushed elbows with and never expanded in real life, qualities I don't readily admit to. I enjoyed my character while I was writing her, but I admit - I felt superior to her then. She's the kind of woman who, when duly pissed off, will put out her cigarette in someone's drink. And that's if she actually seems to like them a little.

One day, several months after the novel was complete, I was parked on a corner waiting for my kids to get off the bus. A man approached me and wanted me to roll down my window so he could speak to me. I rolled it down a crack and I felt myself giving him the stink eye before I gave him the brush off. I felt myself looking at him through my character's eyes. I was thinking, "Sure you're looking for directions to the vet's office, you slimy perv. Why I oughtta..." And that's when I knew that I had written her because she was a secret piece of me. And I liked her a tiny bit more because I know why we both are so suspicious and untrusting.

Maybe the common ground you have found with your character will serve you well. Maybe there is something about this woman that you want for yourself. Or maybe you can GIVE her something you want.

I understand completely about not being a writer of 'nice' stories. Yeah, I don't much do nice, either. Just between us (ha), I am sometimes jealous and a little resentful of those who have the luxury of writing 'nice'. Until I remember that those stories are largely boring. Dallas would probably put out cigarettes in the drinks of 'nice' authors. But I wouldn't. :-)