A land forged from the fires of strife, blood of heroes, and touch of the gods.
Where deeds of great valor, vile evils, and blazing passions intertwine
to shape the course of elven and human history within.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Summer Sizzles

It's June 21st, the Summer Solstice, and the heat of the season is upon us.  Up until about a week ago, it was raining here in KC every other day and threatening to turn my back yard into a really grassy swimming pool.  Fortunately that didn't happen and now there's no rain in the forecast until late next week. 

Such is life in the Midwest: if you don't like the weather, wait a bit and it will change.

Enough of that.  Summer's here (no, not Summer Glau, but I can only dream), and with it the realization that 2015 is half over already.  So it's time to take stock of what I've been doing, what I SHOULD have been doing, and where we go from here.  

The year started off with a frantic dash to complete Champions: The Heroes of Ardwel, so I'd have it for the convention season.  Fortunately I was successful and the book is now available through Amazon (hard copy only) or you can order directly from me.  Second priority was to get back into the swing of things on Blood Secret, my fifth novel, and that has taken a couple of turns, veered of the highway more than once, and (nearly) crashed into a ditch or two along the way.  But hey, it's a process, right?  Sometimes just keeping the wheel straight is a process...

Regardless, after a lot of soul-searching, review, and some hard choices (why are choices always hard?  How come no one ever says, "oh, heck, that was easy!" when it comes to making choices about our creative endeavours?), things are back on track (mostly) and chugging along at a steady, if modest, pace.  The real issue with this book has always been one of struggle; in this case, struggle between the new characters (who are unestablished and basically have no real authority in the world) and the old characters (who have ALL the authority).  And when I was farbling around with the new characters, just trying to learn who the heck these people were, the old characters hijacked the story and took off on a totally different direction.  To say the least, I've been busy soothing bruised egos, pouting personalities, and generally passive-aggressive reluctance to get "back in the saddle" (literally as well as figuratively) and go with the flow.  

I'm sure this happens to all writers; characters who won't cooperate, don't want to "go where you tell them", and generally don't seem to fit the author's idea of what constitutes a "good story".  And this proves, time and time again, the characters will tell you what they, themselves, want to do.  You, as the author, are only their to write THEIR story, and anything else is simply NOT GONNA HAPPEN.  It's a hard lesson for any writer to learn.  

So after I hit the proverbial wall for about the fifth or sixth time in this story, I started a complete review of the manuscript (about 130,000 words to that point), giving myself a number of options:
1.  Write it about the old characters and work in the new ones as they go along (basically make the new characters secondary).
2.  Write it about the new characters and save the old character stuff for Book Six.
3.  Mesh the two stories as best I could.
4.  Chuck the whole thing and take the summer off.

As any good writer should, I found compromise.  As I retired from my full-time job at the end of March, I took time away from the manuscript, got back into my yard work (I'm a 12 year old kid at heart and love digging in the dirt), did some house stuff, bought a bicycle and started riding again (after a 40 year layoff), and set writing on the back burner for a while.  Good overall decision.

So now, with the afore-mentioned review nearly complete, I have a much better idea of where the story is going (and NOT going), who's in charge, and what everyone's place is.  It's not perfect (yet), but it's better.

Moral of this story (no pun intended): don't give up.  Talk with your characters and have a heart-to-heart with yourself as well.  Writers block is really nothing more than when the characters in your story stop talking to you.  So listen well.  They know the way and it's up to you to write it.  

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