Like a Fighter

I totally ripped this photo off. Click to see original source.

This is me. But only metaphorically. I totally ripped it off. Click to see original source.

I feel like a fighter. Scratched and bloodied with a smashed-in nose and mangled fingers. This morning I got up not wanting to write. The thought that kept me going was this: Mornings when I don’t want to write usually end up being the most productive of all. This was not one of those mornings.

It was brutal.

I completely rewrote the last half of a chapter that I’m sure is worse now than before. Nothing happens, no change from start to finish. Well, there’s change, but it comes from outside instead of integrally from the events of the scene.

An entire hour of struggle, and I’m going to end up cutting the whole chapter, the work of several days.

But it’s not about the chapter. It’s about the whole book. My protag is boring. I love him, but he’s not interesting. He’s… lethargic. And slow. Not dumb, he just moves slow. And nothing interesting ever happens to him. Which makes no sense, because EVERYTHING happens to him, so why isn’t it interesting?

Is my book hopeless if the main character is boring even to me, his creator? If all I want to do is get through his chapters to the next, where there are vibrant characters and interesting things happening?

And is it actually boring? At one point, I cut a bunch of “boring” exposition from another chapter. Carey read the revised version and without ever having seen the removed portions, told me to put a bunch of stuff in the chapter that happened to match up with the stuff I had taken out.

Impossibly frustrating and lonely this writing thing.

Ugh.

Why is this so hard?

Just Write the Damned Book Already

Read that. There, above. Click through and come back. That was helpful, wasn’t it? Apparently, it’s hard for everyone. And the fact that I’m doing this comes with a reward: The right to be inwardly snide when someone says to me, “Oh, you’re writing a novel? I have a great idea for a book too.” Yeah, I’m sure you do, but I’m actually writing one.

Only, I will not be snide with you if you tell me you have a great idea for a book. No. I am not in the mood to be nice. I intend to leave you writhing on the ground in a bloody, bruised, shivering lump. So I’m going to tell you to write the book. And I’m going to mean it.

Go ahead. Try me.

(P.S. Don’t watch that video if you’re easily offended. Or ever offended. It’s pretty offensive. I put it there so you will be very clear just exactly how bad*ss I am. I will tell you to write that book.)

6 thoughts on “Like a Fighter

  1. Ah, snideness my old friend.

    And nothing interesting ever happens to him. Which makes no sense, because EVERYTHING happens to him, so why isn’t it interesting?

    Perhaps things are happening to him instead of him happening to things. Maybe he needs to be a little more active in deciding his fate?

    I had a horrible time writing last night. Solidarity! It’s the worst when you know you’re not in the right mental place to be able to make decisions but still need to make some decisions. Because writing. Ugh.

    • Yes, I think you’re right. I was thinking about this while walking around the lake after posting. Everything happens to him because he doesn’t know what he wants. So I think that has to be more overt, and then over the course of the novel, what has to change is that he grows some … self. Some sense of what he wants. He has to figure out that stuff is just going to keep happening TO him until he figures out what he wants and make stuff happen BECAUSE of him.

      Anyway. Solidarity. :)

      • I can’t remember if you’ve read other Neil Gaiman books, but he does that sort of thing over and over and over and over and you might have even encountered it in Ocean. “That sort of thing” = wandering protagonist who learns what he wants.

        I have that problem too, in that I tend to write reluctant protagonists who learn to give a shit. It’s different slightly, because the protagonist still wants something, it’s just to not have a destiny or whatever. But it plays out the same.

        Neil Gaiman often has his protagonists struggling to return to their earlier life where, presumably, they don’t have to decide anything about themselves. That gives them something to do. The story starts with them dissatisfied with their “boring” life, then they get way more excitement than they bargained for, then they realize they’d had nothing to complain about before, etc.

        • Yeah, this is similar but a little different. He actually does want something, but what he wants is for everybody else to be happy. He’s got to figure out what makes HIM happy and do something about it. And stop worrying about everyone else all the time.

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