Writing isn’t always going to turn out how you want it to turn out. Things tend to get a little crazy within the mind, and when that happens all hell tends to break loose. It might just be hell inside your head, but that’s enough to make things crazy.
Which is funny, because someone found a post I wrote during Camp Nano last year. The post started out with advice from Henry Miller on how one should write when they are writing. It’s a good time to bring back those rules:
1. Work on one thing at a time until finished.
2. Start no more new books, add no more new material to Black Spring. (At the time this was his WiP.)
3. Don’t be nervous. Work calmly, joyously, recklessly on whatever is in hand.
4. Work according to Program and not according to mood. Stop at the appointed time!
5. When you can’t create you can work.
6. Cement a little every day, rather than add new fertilizers.
7. Keep human! See people, go places, drink if you feel like it.
8. Don’t be a draught-horse! Work with pleasure only.
9. Discard the Program when you feel like it—but go back to it next day. Concentrate. Narrow down. Exclude.
10. Forget the books you want to write. Think only of the book you are writing.
11. Write first and always. Painting, music, friends, cinema, all these come afterwards.
Number one has always been important to me, because when I start on a new WiP, I tend not to deal with anything else. There’s no point to working on three or four different things at the same time, because you end up distracting yourself to hell and gone trying to tie together all these threads that have nothing to do with each other. And then you end up with crap. Lots of crap. And who wants that?
Number ten used to be a problem for me. I’d find myself in the middle of a story and then–“Hey, why don’t you think about this story?” Oh, sure. Why not? Because this is just like Number One, only with a zero after. Distracted, distracted, distracted. You don’t need that. It’s like the people who say they have trouble working on a story because they come up with ideas for ten stories they should write: you end up writing nothing doing that, my friends.
I will cop to this: Number five happened last night. I was editing. I was doing a good job editing. Things were coming along nicely, and then . . . I started thinking about yesterday’s post, and the idea of the course I’d created for a story that, were it to happen, wouldn’t come around for a few years. I mean, to me some future history on my kids is a little more cement in their lives; it’s world building and it makes them become more whole.
Things took a turn, however: a dark turn.
I was working, but I was also creating, and the creating side sorta pulled me away from the working side. I starting thinking about this test run I set up for Annie and Kerry, and my Muse was saying, “You know The Foundation isn’t all rainbows and happy unicorns, that one of the mottoes of Salem is they’ll push you to your limits, and then push you beyond once you’ve reached them . . . so if someone really wanted to know how good these kids were, how far would they push it? Knowing, of course, that no one is watching the watchmen.”
It’s a good question, and it defines the character of some of the people who aren’t connected to the school, but who are also responsible for keeping the world running as best it can.
How far would they push my kids?
Answer: all the way to hell and beyond.
Oh, what I came up with was glorious. It was a layer cake of hardship and pain. You have a couple of advanced students who are touted as the best of the best, and people behind the monitors thinking, “Yeah? We’ll see how good they are.” And then the hike becomes a battle of wills with my kids figuring out how to game the course they’re upon–which, if you know your magic, you can totally do–and the monitors who are becoming more and more frustrated by the minute that they can’t keep up.
When that happens, it won’t take much for someone to finally say, “Screw it. Time to pull the trigger on this lot.”
That is the way of my world: it’s not all nice, and if you gotta put kids through hell to test them, there are people who will do such a thing. Naturally, there is a lesson learned at the end by one person, and if I’m right–and sometimes I am–this does set up my dynamic for the D Level experience they begin in a few months.
Really, it’s not wrong to torture your characters–
Not if it builds their character in the stories to come.