Either This is Writer’s Block or Some Benevolent God is Protecting My Characters

So before Christmas, I was writing a lot. I mean, I didn’t have huge chunks of time in which to do so because December is a ridiculously busy time of year for me between Christmas and SacAnime prep, but at least I was writing when I could. Which was mostly during church because I can’t focus on organized religion to save my life–er, soul.

But these days, I have nothing coming from my pen. It’s so entirely frustrating. Because I have scenes for various projects I want to write, but when I sit down to work on them, nothing. A training sequence for Tidbit that sets off Anjali’s PTSD? Thought of, not written. Same thing for the majority of the plot of Funny Little Games. And I don’t have much of an excuse for that one; it’s historical fiction and has an established timeline. I have all the plot, action, and dialog for Left Behind ready in a script form, but nothing for the novel.

Funny Little Games cover

I have no excuse.

And yet I’m not writing.

For whatever reason, I’d rather sit around thinking of various marketing techniques for someone I don’t even have a contract with than work on my writing. I don’t even enjoy marketing all that much, but I’d rather strategize for some fantasy what-if job than do my actual job.

Which is absolutely ridiculous, obviously.

My goal for 2016, aside from being more consistent with my blog posts is to get at least one book ready to submit for publication. Which is totally doable. I mean, Brigade Ship Intrepid: Maculatum is almost complete in its first draft. Seriously. I only have a few chapters worth of content to write and then I can edit the shit out of it.

But at the rate I’m currently going–that is, not writing at all–I’m never going to finish anything. Which is really super frustrating as I’ve said. Because I am a writer. I am. I write and therefore I claim the title. But my family seems to think that to be a writer, one must be published and blogs don’t count because this particular one brings me no income.

The thing is, none of them are writers. They don’t know what it’s like to put a little piece of your soul into every character, into every scene. To research truly horrible things in order to be as accurate as possible. To reach into the darkest parts of your past, your soul, in order to create convincing villains. They don’t understand how difficult it is to have a story in your mind, to have the characters in your heart, and then to describe adequately what you see in your head so others can see it as well.

Especially if you really like your characters and you know the plot is going to torture them.

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And maybe that’s part of my problem? Take Maculatum, for instance. My go-to concept explanation for it is “steampunk Star Trek set in a Dungeons and Dragons sort of fantasy world.” Which of course means there’s a lot of great characters in the Intrepid’s bridge crew. This normally wouldn’t be a huge problem except for the fact I’m writing it, I’m telling their story. This means that horrible things will happen to them on a regular basis.

Dr. Belldonna and Dr. McReady are my two central characters in Maculatum and while their relationship progresses in a natural, satisfactory-type manner for two stubborn idiots, outside forces around them make their lives miserable. There’s nothing like the threat of war to keep military folk stressed beyond all reason.

The sick thing is I love writing the Intrepid crew. Hell, they’ve got four books dedicated to them and they make regular appearances in the three-book series that focuses on McReady’s daughter. These guys are insanely fun to write. They bounce off each other well, they’re already fairly well-rounded for unedited manuscripts, and they’re all clever as hell. They’re not perfect people by any means, but they are clever in different capacities. And they use their cleverness to get out of the trouble I put them in.

And I put them in a lot of trouble. Like, ship tons. In their second book, the title of which is in a notebook I misplaced when I moved away from San Diego last March (this makes me a sad hedgehog; those titles are awesome), each chapter is a different adventure. They advance the plot of course, but more in the way each episode of a television series advances the season’s story arc. This method of storytelling was an experiment, to be totally honest. I had too many good smallish plots for them to ignore them in favor of just a few, but none of the smallish plots had enough to stretch into a full-length novel. Except one, but that one is so depressing that I’m forcing myself to restrict it to a two-chapter length.

My point is, I have a handful of characters I really like, really love writing, even in boring domestic scenes, and I throw buckets and buckets of awful things at them. Betrayal, the mass slaughter of hundreds of innocents, dangerous science experiments, dodgy encounters with various shady NPCs, you name it. It kills me to do all this to them, to torture them–sometimes literally; the League of Villains is pretty evil and awful–but I do it anyway, just to see if they can get out of it alive.

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That’s what I do on a regular basis when I actually am able to write. Khalira and Anjali and Tora and Bennett’s stories are all riddled with horrible murder and betrayal of some kind; it’s not just the Intrepid’s crew I’m horrible to. All of my characters are fictional people I love but also whose lives I ruin. I don’t think my family understands that.

I don’t think they really know what they’re telling me when they say, “You should finish something so you can get published. That’s what you want, right?” When they say stuff like that, all I hear is, “Torture your babies. Kill your darlings. Be the horrible hell-god you are.”

I accepted that aspect of my writing a long time ago, but that doesn’t make it hurt any less. I guess my overall point is, I get way overly attached to my characters and it hurts my heart to make them miserable, but right now, I’m super ridiculously annoyed that I’m currently incapable of making horrible things happen to my babies.

Because I’ve obviously lost all semblance of logic.

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About alicegracey

Writer, Actor, Advice Nerd. At least, that's what it says on my business card these days. Mostly, I just write in order to try to get my brain to shut up. I like to share what I write, but be warned, I don't do happy.
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