One Thousand Words on Getting Back on Track

I haven’t written much fiction lately. I think there’s just a lot going on at work so it’s been easier to spit out one thousand words on my favorite songs or shopping than it is to actually create something.

This doesn’t really seem like writing, though. Not the type of writing I was hoping for when I began this project, anyway.

And I’m not writing anything outside of these posts. My “Might Possibly Become a Novel” (MPBAN) hasn’t moved forward at all. I’ve thought about setting up another goal for myself, to write fiction besides this blog but, as much as I’m a deadline driven person, one more seems like one too many. It feels like I’d just be stressing myself out and disappointed when I didn’t reach that new goal.

Do these lapses in creativity mean I’m not a real writer? Does it mean I’m lazy, not dedicated and unproductive? Or am I too hard on myself? Are these just the normal ups and downs of the writing process?

I’ve read about people taking ten or even twenty years to complete their novel. God help me if mine takes that long. I’ll have a breakdown or die of self disappointment long before I can type “The End.” (If people even type “The End” anymore. It seems like an important part of the process, even if it’s not included in the actual book.)

But even if I haven’t been writing, I have been thinking about MPBAN. I thought tonight I’d try to put down a few thoughts I have about the characters in order to get me back in the swing of writing fiction. These are just the things that have been going through my mind, small challenges that have been intimidating me from writing Daniel’s story further.

I’ve been thinking quite a bit about Daniel’s mother. I don’t think she’ll make an actual appearance in the book, like in a flashback or something, but she obviously plays a role in why Daniel is who he is. Of course, I’m not ruling anything out. I’ve already been surprised at the twists this story has taken, so maybe mom will appear after all.

What was wrong with her? I’ve written that she was sick. And she threw herself into that traveling preacher’s church so I’m thinking that maybe her illness was more psychological than physical, or both. But she doesn’t feel crazy to me. Maybe she is sick and that’s why the she reacted to the preacher they way she did. He offered her hope.

And I don’t think I know how old Daniel was when she died. I’ll have to read back, but he could have been quite young. I might have mentioned something about no one touching Daniel since his mother died, but that could have been a long time ago. I’m almost thinking he was a teenager when she died, maybe eighteen since I don’t get the vibe that Daniel was in the foster care system.

I’ve also been contemplating Delores. She needs to be in the book more, and I think she may only be in it through phone calls. But is that too limiting? Gimmicky? I love the character and want her to be prominent if I can, but if she’s only on the phone then her development relies on the dialogue I write and I don’t think writing dialogue is my strength. Then again, I don’t really think I have any strengths so…

The thing I like about Delores is her no-nonsense attitude. It seems like almost every other character in the story are practically neurotic. Delores isn’t complicated. And she tells it like it is.

I don’t know if I mentioned before that when I participated in that one night writing workshop, one of the other writers told me that Delores sounded authentically Southern. And one of the other participants thought that I was from the South. Since I couldn’t be much more Yankee if I tried, I was please that he thought that based on one character.

I do know what is going to happen to Delores. That came to me a long time ago, right after I wrote the very first story. But I don’t know how I’m going to make what happens to her important to the rest of the characters and the readers.

I’m also struggling with Pastor Sebastian. I love the character and I think he’s my favorite. And I’m playing with the idea (sorry if I’ve written this before) of including his sermons every once in a while, as a way for the readers to see him as his congregants do. Again, I’m not sure if that’s too gimmicky, but I think it will work. And it’s so much fun to write the sermons. At the very least, it’s good info for me to have as background.

I worry that Sebastian will become a stereotype of the overzealous religious fraud, and I don’t want that to happen. I think Sebastian really thought God spoke to him and believed that he was called upon to start a church. But his beliefs are so out there, or his understanding of Christianity is so off base, that it’s hard to take him seriously. I don’t want him to be the butt of a joke. I want him to be sympathetic and human.

This probably sounds as crazy as the character, but I was sad when I wrote that Sebastian’s God was just the bathroom attendant. I felt sorry for him. He completely changed his life because that experience and it didn’t really happen. I always feel sorry for people when they lose their belief system, like the folks who sold everything in preparation for the rapture. How do you go on from there?

Well, I think this has helped. Putting my thoughts and concerns in writing let’s me acknowledge them and set them aside. Maybe now I can stop editing before I write and stop trying to have all the answers.

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