Slogging through the middle of my current work in progress I ran into a wall.
Not just a wall, but a fortress insurmountable complete with lichen-covered stones and drizzles of what is likely the dumpings of the privy pot. I think my Muse lives up in that tower and takes great pleasure in the fact that I keep smacking my nose into her waste.
The book that I have loved for twelve chapters suddenly feels bland, lacking all sense of originality, and it is a chore to sit down and open the document every day.
Wherein we come to the tragic but predictable plight of the author and I begin to wonder why I bother with this writing thing. What could I possibly have to offer the world by way of this story, or any story ever?
This is a normal thing and I thank every author who has revealed their own insecurities regarding the writing life. You give me hope.
I actually just got to spend some time with a local author (L.J. Cohen who writes amazing science fiction and you should totally check her out) and we discussed this very issue. Most authors hit this wall in the writing process and, for some of us, it only seems to get worse with each project.
So what do I do when I hit this wall?
Well, to be honest, this wall was different from the others. All the other walls I’ve hit have been about the language and the writing style and all those things I knew I could clean up in the next draft.
This refuse-drizzling, moldy fortress wall barring my path insists that medieval fantasy novels are so last century.
“Nobody wants to read another Kid in King Arthur’s Court. Ugh, everything is so grey and blah and already done, and there’s no amount of editing that’s going to cure this thing. ”
It is possibly the hardest wall I’ve ever come up against.
And the only way I have been able to barrel through is my outline.
That’s right, my outline saved my butt. Because I put my headphones on and pulled my manuscript up and read through the whole of my outline, start to finish, and it made me remember why I started writing this thing in the first place.
Because I love Kevin and I want him to survive. And I want him to come to that moment in the end where he confronts his own grief and learns how to live with it. Because the genre may be tired and maybe some people will groan at the idea of another medieval fantasy, but there’s enough new in it to breathe life into the setting.
And if, when I’m revising, I feel like it needs something more to set it apart, then yes, I can still do that.
Check out what my fellow authors do to keep moving forward in those tough moments…
Dr. Bob Rich https://wp.me/p3Xihq-1gQ
Marie Laval http://marielaval.blogspot.co.uk/
Connie Vines http://mizging.blogspot.com/
Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
Marci Baun http://www.marcibaun.com/blog/
A.J. Maguire https://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/ (YOU ARE HERE)
Helena Fairfax http://www.helenafairfax.com/blog
Anne Stenhouse http://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com/
Diane Bator http://dbator.blogspot.ca/
Fiona McGier http://www.fionamcgier.com/
Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea
Margaret Fieland http://margaretfieland.wordpress.com
Rhobin L Courtright http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com
10 thoughts on “Faking Originality – June Round Robin 2018”
Oh, AJ, that is a very tough wall you describe, but I think you found your way–its not the location or time or fantasy — its the reality of the character and their trials and trails. Good luck! I’m facing something similar in my current project.
I’m not gonna lie, it was difficult, but I have found my way through and am happily chugging away again. I hope you find your way through too! It’s never easy. Sometimes I feel like we need a support group to drop into whenever we smack into the wall.
Yes. Fiction is about people and their emotions, not about setting, or the times, or even what happens. They are tools to induce the reader to identify with those people, to feel those emotions.
I keep telling myself that, but that little voice in the back of my head keeps reminding me that critics complain about “tired genre’s” and things all the time. I’ve come to the place where I’ve accepted that this story isn’t for me, it’s for my son, who inspired it, and I’m writing it to engage him, not a critic.
That impregnable wall has faced us all from time to time. I’m glad you had the outline to return to. Until now I’ve been a pantser so there is no outline. Since I’ve now embarked on a mystery, and I do have an outline for the first time maybe this will get me moving again when that inevitable wall rises up! Thanks for the hint.
I hope it does! I’m not sure what your outline looks like, but mine is handwritten and messy, with added notes for all the times I’ve read through it and thought of something. Or for things I added into the narrative early on that I need to remember when I hit the later chapters.
I feel so much sympathy for you with your seemingly impregnable wall, AJ. I’ve started out all excited on a new project many a time, only to start asking myself eventually, who wants to read this boring drivel? I wrote in my own post that sometimes I feel I owe it to my characters to complete their story. I’m so glad you are letting your Kevin get his happy ending 🙂 I really enjoyed your post!
I love your wall and I’m so glad you worked through it for Kevin to get where he was going.
There is nothing new under the sun, even if we like to convince ourselves of that every time we sit down to write on a new project. The further I get into the book, the more I wonder what the h*** I’m doing. That’s where I’m at right now, wondering what made me think I could write.
I’m glad you’ve found a way to move your project forward. Keep at it. It’s more than worth writing. 🙂
I have a couple of stories in my laptop that I have about 3/4 done, and just haven’t had the time to finish them. I also have 2 completed novels that I got my rights back for, and I have to think of what to do with them. Sigh. I wish there was some magic wand to wave, that would get our books the attention from readers, that would validate our decisions to write them. But alas…we soldier on, determined to at least give our characters the happy ending they deserve. And hope for the best.