More than one thing at a time

My walk was interrupted today by having a bird relieve itself on my hat. I thought somebody had thrown something at me; the impact was surprisingly robust, but after I worked out what had happened I had to turn around and walk back home to disinfect things. This was annoying not only because, well, a bird crapped on me, but also because it killed my momentum.

Granted, I could have continued walking and just ignored it, but I doubt that would have been very hygienic, so ultimately I’m glad that I did what I did, but I’d wanted to go for another epic walk today and didn’t get to. We’ll see how tomorrow goes. I’ll need a different hat.

I also need a new tactic for keeping this novel moving. I think what I had last night was writer’s block, and I just didn’t see it that way – which, I’m gonna be honest, I’m totally okay with. Or it wasn’t writer’s block at all, but I do know that most of the time there is little difference for me between having writer’s block and just wanting to do something other than writing, or working on my WIP in general. Writer’s block for me often takes the form of not acknowledging the fact that I want to take a break. And I’m all for breaks; breaks can increase productivity, because they help to alleviate the stress that comes with working on a project, any project. The same goes for just doing something different for a while.

In this case, the thing that I wanted to do instead was spend time on the side-characters. I really like them. I really want to get to know them, to give them their own voices, their own stories. But that’s not this story, and it can’t be, and yet that’s exactly how I’ve been thinking over the past couple of days while trying to think of ‘new stuff’ to happen; I reasoned that, since I was thinking about these characters who feature in this story, I was therefore thinking about how to enhance the telling of this story, and as such I missed the part where this story is actually about the character that it’s named after.

Last year I came to a similar realisation about the central conflict of the story, and it felt good. It made sense. It fitted. And I was excited to tell that story. But as time went on, and I kept doing things and getting tunnel-vision from doing them, the bigger picture escaped me, and the old ‘can’t see the forest for the trees’ cliche sums up the rest.

Harry Potter has a lot of side-characters, and quite a few of them are rather interesting. Lupin is my favourite character in the series, and has been since the first time I read Prisoner of Azkaban, and he’s hardly actually in the series at all. He does his thing and then just sort of hangs around; he never got the attention that I thought he deserved, and his off-page death still feels like a great injustice to me.

But having said that, I don’t think I’d read a story all about him. He is most definitely a supporting character in Harry’s story; and he’s a really good supporting character, because he draws attention to himself while never drawing attention away from Harry. His story intersects with Harry’s in a way that compliments the both of them, but never steals the spotlight. That’s a good supporting character, one who I find ‘too interesting’ because I want more of him than is made available (and thus fanfiction was born), but still good in the capacity he is used in. He helps to tell the story, and most importantly, he helps to tell somebody else’s story.

I may just have to concede that I have more than one story cooking at the same time.

I love the idea of tying all of these stories together into one cohesive whole, and more specifically as one book. But I know that in doing that I’ll almost certainly be looking at cutting out a lot of the stuff that I want to put in; and even if I split it into say a trilogy or something, the issue of focus is still paramount. If Harry Potter had switched perspective every other book it would have gotten distracting and felt disconnected. I probably would read a book all about Hermione; in fact, I’d probably read a whole series (change that to ‘definitely’ if Lupin’s in it), but not in the middle of Harry’s story. So if these stories I want to tell don’t serve to help tell Tallulah’s, then they shouldn’t masquerade under that pretence.

In other words, I need to seriously consider what I’m going for here. I need to go back and read over my chapter summaries, at the very least, and probably actually go back and re-read the draft once again (which to be honest I would not mind doing, it was rather enjoyable the last time), and get really in-tune with Tallulah’s story – I’ve looked at structure, as in narrative flow and pacing and stuff, but none of that means a thing if it doesn’t all serve to tell her story, if she’s not at the centre of it all. And perhaps I do just have to give up on this idea of having one book, one story, to do all the things I want to do.

I am saying this with publishing in mind, mind you. I’m thinking of word-count limits and stuff, which, from an artistic point of view, ‘shouldn’t matter’, but I don’t want to write this huge massive thing that I care deeply about only to have it ripped apart by the laws of commerce.

Actually, scratch that. I do want to write it. I want to write it regardless. I want it my way. But I also want a backup plan in case it doesn’t pan out the way I want it to, because that’s practical – and also means I’m not putting all of my eggs in one basket. If I can’t get it all done in one book, perhaps there is a comfortable, intuitive way to make it happen in two, or three. I feel like I owe it to this story – or these stories – that I care about so much to at least look into it.

For now, though, I just want to see how what I’ve got tells the story of Tallulah, and what needs to happen to do it better. The other stories can have their turn later, if it turns out that they need one. Because maybe they don’t. Maybe I’ve just been procrastinating very imaginatively, and all of this is just my brain trying to keep me from writing.

And if that’s the case, perhaps I need a more serious break. But I don’t think that’s the case. I think I just need a clearer idea of what I’m going for.

Also, I’ve loved writing a post a day (roughly), but since university is going to be a thing I don’t know how feasible it’s going to be in the coming weeks and months. So if I seem to drop off the grid, well, it might be because I have, but more likely it’s because I’m doing something academic, or recovering from it. But I’ll keep it up as much as I can, because … well, I want to.

And I want to keep the ball rolling, so, back to the trenches …


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