Sunday, May 8, 2011

Procrastinating And My Boys

Blood Moon
I've been having a hard time settling into my current WIP. I've had an outline for a couple of months. I know who my 4 protagonists are. Should be just a simple matter to put words around them and create a story. After all, I spent years making a living writing about stuff -- technology, services, hardware -- I had little passion for. My talent has always been to make the words I write seem passionate. So even if I wasn't in love with my characters or plot, I figured it shouldn't be difficult to fake my way through.

Only I found myself making excuses to not write. Quite legitimate excuses they seemed too. An anthology to get out and then promote. A novel that I was going to wait a bit on to publish, but that became yet another excuse to avoid the WIP. Online parties to coordinate and host. Beta reads and in-depth critique prizes to get through. Random photographs to take. I kept telling myself if I just finished X today, I would write a few extra words on the WIP tomorrow. Then I'd dutifully sit down in front of said WIP and suddenly remember I needed to check my Amazon stats.

I wasn't blocked. When I forced myself to write, I wrote. That's what I trained for all those years. But I simply didn't feel any passion for what I was writing. So, procrastinating some more, I picked up an old WIP and reread it, hoping to find the passion I'd lost. And you know what? I did find it -- in spades -- in that WIP. At 90,000 words, with maybe another 10,000 left to write, this WIP had been shelved because the plot had never quite gelled for my MCs. It's a cool plot, and I'll use it another day, I'm sure.

Wash Day

But the draw in the old WIP was my MCs. My boys. THEY are the characters I'm drawn to most -- in my writing, in others' writing, in onscreen portrayals. Call it the male bond from the female perspective. My boys (a completely sexist term as they're both of legal age), in other incarnations, have been best friends and brothers. In this old WIP, they are lovers, with a slow-building romance that takes 80,000 words to culminate in their first kiss. And there is angst. Loads of angst. And small, lovely gestures that the characters aren't even aware of drawing them closer while tearing them apart. And stray bits of thoughts and language I caught my breath on re-reading and, first, marveled that I had even thought them and written them and, second, despaired that I'd ever think or write anything like them again. Which is odd because I've written an entire novel and a couple of short stories since -- but in styles totally different from this WIP, which may be why I don't really compare them at all.

So I procastinated more, wondering how I could transplant my boys into my new WIP and ignite the writing with the same passion. But the new WIP's outline didn't really make that possible. And the first person POVs for all 4 protags, chosen because I hoped that would give the story the intimacy I craved, was somehow doing just the opposite. Those small gestures the characters weren't aware of -- the ones that make me melt when I as reader see them -- weren't being written in because the characters didn't realize they were making them.

Then, suddenly, while in the middle of more procrastinating, it all crystallized. Every piece clinked into place. I now know how my boys fit in this new WIP (they're brothers again - historical figures, but with all the qualities I love my boys for), what their relationship is to the fey-woman they both love, what POV the tale needs (3rd close) and, best of all, how to fill their story with brutal, crushing, heartbreaking angst.

Torch Flowers (Kniphofia)

Sometimes powering through those times when you just don't want to write isn't the way to go. Sometimes, procrastinating is really a way to get your head around a story and work through it before committing it to paper. Sometimes it's a warning to not go any farther. To stop, drop and roll. And only then to get up and go off in a new direction. Sometimes it pays to procrastinate.

My boys taught me that.


Sylvia said...

Yay! I love it when something like that suddenly crashes through. And I agree, sometimes you just can't push it.

pacatrue said...

Love the progress; love the excuse you've given me to procrastinate too!

OK, to be honest, I agree. Sometimes things have to go on the backburner to let them settle and sort without being watched. Glad that happened for you.

Phoenix Sullivan said...

Absolutely, Sylvia. I feel the same way about housework too...

And an alpaca sighting! Even rarer than thylacine sightings in NZ. :o)

Michelle4Laughs said...

I reached the same conclusion when I finished up my ms. I couldn't bring myself to write the closing chapters. Duh! (smacks self.) It meant I didn't have the details straight in my mind yet and I knew it would come out wrong if I forced the issue.

Wilkins MacQueen said...

The muse needs to muse at times. I love going back to stuff I've written and haven't looked at for a while. Problems seem to solve themselves when I don't try so hard and let time pass.

I love it when you read something from an earlier day and you fall in love with it.

BTW, new elephant photos up on my blog. Ran into 3 by accident. Click click.