Writing my life, or why is it no one speaks to me anymore?

24 08 2010

I’m having challenges lately.  You see, it’s coming up to 3-Day Novel time and I haven’t the slightest whisper of a plot line, and yet, come Labour Day weekend, I have to churn out a sizeable novel of 120 pages or so and it has to be a complete story and all that and also slightly lucid and coherent.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the 3 Day challenge, and I love the permission and command to do nothing but write for three days solid. It’s gleeful, it gets fun, and always in some part of the writing my characters start to misbehave and shoot innocent bystanders or have rambunctious sex or lose their minds or plunge to the depths of despair. (usually at the same time I do). It’s about the most fun you can have while sober, or drunk, or hepped up on caffeine.  I recommend it highly, and on occasion it has resulted in workable manuscripts that I’ve floated in novella contests.

The tough part is that, when writing true, I marshall events from my life, from the lives I observe around me, from what I see when I perch at a coffee shop watching others interact.  It’s tough cos some of my ideas are reflected in my blog writings and people see themselves in them. I try to be fair and kind to the people who get mentioned in the blog, but over a three day novel process, well, everything breaks loose and my brain is not responsible for what it cranks out. I deny responsibility.

Of course, the good thing is, the likelihood of a three day novel being published without severe editing is scant.  In fact, the chance of winning the contest is pretty scant.  I still have to make the short list, though I came closest last year when I wrote “true”, when I wrote about something close to my heart, when I ended up purging parts of myself with the writing.

Other years when I’ve tried, I had full-blown characters by this point, and a vague idea of a story. They were silly stories, with crazy characters and foolish adventures and they were a hoot to write, but probably not very good. Often the winners of the 3 daynovel contest write odd things, and so I figured I’d try odd and go from there. Odd is easy when you are hepped up on caffeine and very little sleep and you’ve been hanging with your characters and no other humans for days.

This year, I’m stuck.  I had an idea, but can’t do that one – not wise enough.  I am reading about rats, who are fascinating creatures, but I don’t know if I want to spend 3 days with them in close proximity.

I have another idea, one closer to the heart, but it’s not ready.  My character has stepped out and spoken to me, but I don’t know her well enough yet to write about her.  She’s wandering about in my head, picking up little ideas, turning them over, placing them back tidily where they were, like she is cruising through a gifte shoppe in some little touristy town.

I need her to get serious, reveal herself to me, share with me her sorrows and joys. Some of those will seem like similar sorrows and joys of friends, family, acquaintances. Writers steal.  They listen to you and then part of what you say becomes part of them, becomes part of the characters they create.  They don’t steal all of you, just a smidgen, and then they stick it to parts of other people so that it’s not really you they are writing about, it’s a conglomerate of people all of whom have one thing or another that fits the character.

But sometimes it can seem like too much of a person is stolen. I do apologize if I’ve done that in this space. Rest assured it’s not you about whom I speak, and that there is fiction in this blog as everywhere. It’s not intentional if you feel like I’ve done a sketch of your heart and mind.  After all, I don’t know your innermost thoughts. My character’s thoughts , I will know, when she gets ready to share them with me.

Which I wish she would.  The weekend is creeping closer!

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