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Wednesday, October 05, 2016

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I know why I'm having trouble getting motivated to write. When a story idea exists in your head, it is perfect. It's maybe a bit nebulous. Maybe it's not a 100% from beginning to ending story. But it exists in a perfect state. It has no flaws. The characters are exactly who you imagine. The imagery is exactly how you expect it. No clumsy wording muddling things up.

That creature you imagine? He's perfect. He does everything you expect him to. He acts like you want. His pleas have the right tone. Your leading girl looks the way you want. The action is tight and quick, photographed and animated exactly as you want. The dialogue is perfect, because it's said in the right way, at the right time, in the right place, in the right light. Even the smells are perfect. You are there.

But the moment you try to put it on paper, it ceases to be perfect. Because you can't put your thoughts down on paper in a 1:1 ratio. It must happen sequentially. You have to read the dialogue, then the description, then the action. It has to be broken down into the opinion, size, age, shape, color, origin, material, purpose. One after the other. It can't strike you at the same time. It has to add up to a picture in the reader's mind. And that picture is never the same as what you intended. Whether or not it's the understanding of a character's motivations, or the pace at which events occur, or even just understanding what's going on. It's like reading a technical manual for your thoughts.

But as long as it exists in that abstract state, it can't be communicated to anyone. It can't be shared. So in order to spread it among any community, it must be translated into a concrete form. Either words or pictures or song -- something the human body can sense. Writing's the easiest way, but involves the longest transition from mind to paper, then eyes to mind. And the state of the information is never the same. Stephen King said "writing is telepathy" - the sharing of your thoughts to another's brain.

And that's the key word - "sharing". In order for sharing to occur, there has to be reciprocation. Like love. I give to you these words, this story, this idea. An epic journey that demonstrates some experiences, some life lessons, that otherwise you wouldn't be able to experience in any way, shape, or form. As John Green said, you are imprisoned in your body. And stories give you the chance to escape that prison.

But lately, I haven't been getting the reciprocation. No acceptances, no agent requests, no reviews, no feedback. Part of that's my fault -- uploading old stories to unpopular sites. Part of it's... I don't know. It's a hard industry to get people to notice you. I know it takes a long time to A) gain the skill after failure after failure after disheartening failure B) figure out what's acceptable. There's no formula. Otherwise, everyone would be doing it. There are so many hoops -- critiques, reviews, articles, query letters. Just a bunch of garbage that takes away from producing. If you're self-publishing, covers, royalties, editors, ISBNs, promotion, contests. Just anything to make someone see your hand raising among the millions of others.

And there's so damn much to remember: first acts and third act twists and hero's journey and want vs. need and implausibility and present tense and first person perspective and viewpoint and tone shift and making sure you don't offend women and overwriting and character soup and killing darlings and world-building and character relationships and too much detail and not enough detail and character arcs that match the story and complementary protagonist/antagonists and zippy beginnings and if you try to make everything fit, you're going to go insane. It's like figuring out time paradoxes.

This might be one of my longest dry spells since I decided I wanted to be a capital-A author. When baseball players get in a slump, they get fired. What do writers get? Insanity?
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