Last night was an off night; I was busy doing other things, and getting over the cold that was trying to force its way back into my life. I think I’ve beaten the cold–again–but give it a few more days when the temps are back down in the teens and I can’t warm up to save my life. Such is winter in Chicago: one day it’s in the 60’s, the next it’s in the 30’s and snowing.
I was chatting with a friend about the current work in progress, Suggestive Amusements. I was saying that this story felt different to me, because it doesn’t fit in with any of the things I’ve developed before now. The characters are new, the situation is new, it’s taking place in a universe that’s pretty much ours.
The story has felt a little strange for me, because I’m not dealing with characters I know; I’m dealing with unknowns.
Allow me to put this in context: a few of my stories tend to exist in universes that are expandable and wide-ranging. I’ve spent a lot of time getting to know the characters, to make them living, and then make them a big part of those worlds. To say I spend a lot of time developing things is something of an understatement.
Suggestive Amusements is different. It’s an idea turned into reality, but everyone seems a bit . . . distant. It’s like you’re watching a scene from afar, and you’re never actually part of the action. The characters are new, they are shiny–they seem a little incomplete.
It’s a strange thing to create characters for a world that might be a one-off, something you write one time and then never visit again. I’ve not done that very often–or have I? When I think about it, more than a few of my stories have been this way. Why would this story be different?
Hell if I know. This is the way my mind works, I guess. It starts setting up barriers when I hit the twenty thousand word mark, I suppose. I’ve taken more time off with this story than I have with any other, and it makes me wonder if I think it’s worth while. Good old writer’s doubt, kicking me in the butt again.
There was an info graph I saw a while back that showed the various stages of writing. You always start out fresh, thinking your story is the greatest ever, and somewhere in the middle you convince yourself that it’s the biggest piece of crap to ever be fostered upon the world. The person I was chatting with last night said she felt as if she was putting “poop on the page,” and was discouraged by her output. I felt the same way at times; I think I’m feeling sort of that way now, even though a few days ago I liked what I was writing.
I wonder if this is common, that during the course of telling a story, you fall in and out of love not only with the story, but with the act of telling your tale. It wouldn’t surprise me, because writers are mysterious creatures, almost as unfathomable as muses, and twice as complex.
After all, we have to suffer for our work, right?