Saturday, June 10, 2006

Writing Dangerously

An issue I've struggled with the last few months has been a deep-seated sense that something was wrong with my writing. Not the technicalities of it -- I've got a grasp on the mechanics of grammar, thanks to my day job, and I've never had difficulty stringing words together to fit my voice. However, every single time I began toying with something new, I'd end up stopping dead. I couldn't go back and rework old manuscripts, I couldn't move forward, and it seemed I was forever destined to stay in this one place.

A place I didn't want to be.

I couldn't write.

In the end, there were many factors at play, some having nothing to do with writing, keeping me in that place. I'm just beginning to move out of that holding pattern. But I've come to the realization that one big problem was I was trying to write safe.

Last night I read Lydia Joyce's blog on "dangerous" writing, and it resonated with me. From the beginning, I've wanted to write with gritty realism, to create characters who were real people, to formulate situations that weren't always wrapped up cleanly.

No problem, right?

Well, at first I was targeting SIM, which is an excellent line and reads I've always enjoyed. However, that meant toning down the grit and reality, and when I was lucky enough to have a very talented, multi-published SIM author read one of my manuscripts, the one I thought was my it book, she was very quick to point out that the hero's defining moment, his choice, would probably have to be changed before SIM would look at it -- the choice placed him in the position of being unheroic.

Aren't we all sometimes?

That encapsulated my choices for me -- write safe for the line I'd researched endlessly. Follow the rules. Be safe.

Or be me. Stretch for the dangerous. Write real people with real problems. As Jennifer Crusie says, write my good book.

Let the rest take care of itself.

I feel better about writing now than I have in a long time. I'm feeling eager again.

And that is a great place to be.

1 comment:

Jaye said...

I haven't checked Lydia's post yet, but good for you! I think I've mirrored your struggles in many ways. This last year has been just horrible for me regarding writing progress. A lot of that had to do with real life stressors, but a lot had to do with me being concerned with 'market' conditions in terms of where my writing would fit in, never mind that my writing was changing. :-P It's been hard, but like you, I'm striving to focus on the writing again and the stories I want to tell.