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Sunday, May 9, 2010

On To the Next One

Getting over a mild bout of depression, I decided to take on another writing project. This may sound crazy, but starting a story from scratch is almost the same as starting a new relationship with someone. In both cases, you have to make sure you’re mentally and emotionally ready to move on to something new. Don’t jump the gun too quickly.

While writing the first chapter, I started thinking of my previous story. I’ve grown so attached to the characters, the voices, and the world I built. I found it difficult to separate the two. Whenever I wrote dialogue for a new character, I would think, “That’s something so-and-so would say.” Or god forbid you have to think of a character name and it turns out you already used that name. There’s that whole getting-to-know-you phase that takes place and you find yourself longing for that warm blanket of familiarity that you once had. It didn’t seem awkward or forced back then, so why is it so weird now?

As a writer, my brain runs on eight cylinders, and I’m always moving forward with ideas and inspiration. Artistically speaking, I was never meant to stay in one place, to have only one true love of my life, to experience one adventure, but MANY. Some better than others. But letting go takes its toll on me, especially when the story ends on bad terms and without resolution.

Call me a sap, but I get very emotional with my work; a lot of myself are in each story. The same goes with dating. While seeing a new person, especially in the beginning, you start recalling things the ex did or said, little nuances of their nature.

With that said, it’s good to move on. You have to, especially if things don’t work out. But don’t rush the process of getting over stuff. Normally, when people break up they immediately jump into another relationship. I personally think this is unhealthy, but hey, to each its own. This doesn’t apply to everyone. I just feel that time heals all wounds, and distance provides perspective. Allow for both before moving on.

So I recommend a serious writing detox between each project. Go on vacation, have and adventure, go rob a bank, feed a third-world country, something to take your mind off the old. Read a ton of books, at least six to recalibrate your thought process. Reading also supplies rhetorical nuts and bolts to add to your writing tool box.

My point is this, writing, no matter how turbulent, is a relationship. You spent month sometimes years on one idea, watched it grow, molded these characters out of thin air, and then at some point you have to leave them. Maybe in a few years after I write a whole slew of books, I won’t feel so attached, but honestly, I hope I don’t. Because if I stop feeling, it’s no longer genuine, and that bittersweet affair called writing would lose its passion.

4 comments:

  1. Great points. I usually take at least a few weeks off between projects (or months) but this time I plan to not write anything else for awhile (yea right, famous last words). Rebound novels are no good.:) Good luck with your new project!

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  2. Great post! I know it's tricky to get started with a new project when you've poured your all into the previous one. I'm in this strange territory between trying one last major revision on the first one, and outlining the second. When I get mad at the first one, I work on the second one--but the first one keeps calling me back! Keep your head up and good luck with the new work. :)

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  3. I totally agree. I'm between projects, and the last one was a year+ romantic misadventure of 280 pp! I miss the characters and their funny problems.
    Hey, I see in your profile that you went to art school. Me too! It took me a bunch of years to fess up to myself that I really longed to WRITE! It's funny that now I teach very part-time on the side, at a guess what? An art college! So I'm teaching freshmen lit students how to write. Such a weird 360--180?? Anyway, I'm now a published YA author (REFUGEES & other writings). I just started a blog on blogger. Come follow me if you like!
    Catherine Stine

    ReplyDelete
  4. Jaime - I can totally relate to this! I just started querying a novel that I've worked on for ages. I know I need to start something new, but it's terrifying! I like your recommendations for detox! Good luck!

    ReplyDelete

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