Sunday, April 24, 2011

Edits, New Writing and Taking a Break

Since I started this blog (not long ago) I've been trying to find and read blogs of other writers, or those who travel within the writing/editing/publishing sphere. I have never had much interest in blogs before, other than keeping up with a few of my writing friends that I already know quite well.

I ran across this (older) blog entry yesterday and it got me thinking about a previous entry I wrote about weeds and avoiding edits.

Writing for me is not an outlet that I escape into.

I need to escape from my own writing.

Don't get me wrong, I love writing and editing, otherwise I wouldn't do it in the first place, but I find writing to be intense. Sometimes it feels unbearably heavy, like being dragged down into dark water.

Let me say again, I love writing, I just always write extremely dark worlds and even darker characters. No, I don't write horror, I don't write suspense or murder mysteries. I don't read them either.

For years I haven't been able to think of a category that my writing fits into. I was devouring the short stories of Edgar Allen Poe and Franz Kafka before I was ten. I read Bram Stoker's Dracula about a dozen times before I became a teenager and I read Mary Shelly's Frankenstein so long ago that I barely even remember what it's about. When I was fourteen, I read The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner three times in a row without taking a break. My favourite books, that I have read and re-read, are ones I hesitate when recommending books to people because they are so incredibly dark. ...and I haven't included them in my profile, so don't bother checking :)

Now, after saying all of that, what I do write is YA.

Project #1, that I referred to in the Weeds post as one I'm avoiding at the moment, is incredibly dark. It takes place in a survival-of-the-fittest world. The characters are going to a school where kids have to form packs/alliances because other students might very well drag them into the desert and devour them (literally, not figuratively). Injures, broken bones, nearly being beaten to death, these are all things the teachers ignore because students are expected to take care of themselves. They're at the school because they are strong, they are there to get stronger, and even their alliances with other students are filled with mistrust and fear.

Add on top of this that I have a large cast, essentially 7 main characters, all with their own issues and character arcs.

...and that this is the first of three books set in this world. The first draft for the first story is done, the second two are roughed out with major scenes written, often in point form, but all the planning is there.

When I start working on this story, on this world, it's exhausting and it sucks up every bit of my energy and attention. I forget to eat. I can't sleep. The dog needs to practically climb onto my lap to remind me that she exists and that she doesn't have the brain power to comprehend indoor plumbing. The number of characters, the darkness of the world, the complicated arcs that extend over all three stories... I have to escape from it or it will swallow me whole.

I don't consider this to be procrastination and I'm not avoiding it 'cause I'm afraid of tearing it apart, hacking off scenes or re-writing entire characters.

Thankfully, how I escape is to write (or work on edits) for other stories. I can take my much-needed mental break, yet I am still improving my writing skills, still getting new words down and letting my brain reset.

I just wish I could somehow reset my own brain so I can writing lighter stories/characters :)

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