I’m going to confess something.
Sometimes I don’t feel like I have any original thoughts.
I was at the bookstore yesterday. Barnes and Noble. I’m still lamenting the loss of my beloved Borders. The only thing that Barnes and Noble has going for it in my mind are the vanilla cupcakes they sell. Cupcakes that I can’t eat any more.
I was at the bookstore yesterday and I saw a couple of books that I was like, “damn, this is a good idea!”
Normally, when I go to the bookstore the rows and rows of books don’t intimidate me. Most books are rewritten versions of one another or someone attempting to write like (insert name–almost usually a dead white dude–here). Most of the time when I go to the bookstore I feel a creative rush. I feel inspired and my vision of my abilities are reinvigorated. I look around and see hundreds of books published but most of them are not very interesting or compelling.
I’ve said many times that people think writing is easy because of bookstores…hell because of libraries…they see the piles of books and think, “I can write too.” And to some extent its true. Because, in my opinion, at least 70% of the books in the bookstore are not well-written. And yes, some of that 70% includes your canon literature that every one who wants to impress someone claims to have read but they couldn’t get past the first 10 pages.
There is a reason why Cliff Notes is a profitable business.
But yesterday was one of those days for me.
It’s possible that most of what I was feeling is coming from the issues in my personal life. I’m dealing with a few changes. Change is challenging and I’m not in a very creative head space. It’s also because after editing I have about 10 chapters to write from scratch. One of which is a key chapter that I just can’t get past before I get to the others.
After dinner, I hoped a trip the bookstore would inspire me; give me that welcome ego boost I needed to get through writing this morning. Well, that didn’t happen. I began to think about all the ideas I have. And I wondered are they really unique and original. Am I average?
Last night, as I was laying in bed, I ran through my ideas one by one sorting out the ones that seem too much like all the television shows and books that I’ve read. And then I kick myself for not being clever like Christopher Moore, fascinating like Octavia Butler, prolific like Stephen King, or fantastical like NK Jemisin. Yes, of course, I know I can only write like me but the seemingly flatness of my ideas are beginning to plague me.
I am having trouble because what I’m working on right now is just not as interesting as the next thing I want to work on. It’s sort of the, “I’m done with this” feeling I have in my heart. Of course, this book is in itself interesting but so is the other stuff that I want to write. Which is why I write the #8Sunday. I’m essentially cheating on my book with flash fiction. *smh*
Here’s what I know about myself as a writer—I need to change about myself as a writer. I’m not bold. I’m not fearless. I’m very controlled. That’s not good. I can’t write like I play The Sims. Whenever I play The Sims I never give them full control of their lives. I never just let them wander off and procreate with random Sims or choose the job they want or let them die because they refuse to learn how to cook. I never create Sims that are wacky or sad or angry because I want to play in a world where everyone is good looking, sporty and fun. And of course, everyone has a great house, clothes and is incredibly wealthy (motherlode anyone?!)
That is so far from where I want my writing to be. But if I write those dark places will people think that I’m writing about me? Part of it of course is me writing about me. I can go very dark. But why don’t I?
Part of what is happening is that I’m seeing this book from an “already done” perspective when I really should be looking at it from an “opportunity” perspective. I wrote it in a somewhat sterile way and there are lots of “messages” in it about race, class, sexism etc. I have very particular points of view and political opinions about those things but why can’t those things in this series be blurry?
I want this book to move further into a darker territory. There is a sterility to Abigail’s home. Issues are very black and white. But in the Bright City life is darker, dangerous, precarious. Nothing is clear cut. Lies can be partial truths. Truth can be deception.
But she can’t get there until I write this chapter that I’m seriously procrastinating on because I suppose…if I’m honest…I’m partly afraid to write and I’m also exhausted with my personal life. But procrastination, of which I am a champ, and my personal life aside I need to figure out how to motivate myself from this point to the actual writing point.
I’ve started the chapter and actually have the “idea” of it mapped out. I even got an amazing new character from it who will be integral to the second book. But there is a cycle to procrastination that I know really well.
So probably what I need to do is stop kicking myself over my ideas. That is the first step to moving forward. Kick that “Little Hater” to the side and not get down on myself too much. I can watch snoopy dance for a little while…
Then figure out how to open the door to all this darkness brewing inside.