In 2004, I started working on a novel based around a Death Eater I was writing in Harry Potter roleplay back on Greatestjournal. He was great as a stand alone character once all the magical elements were removed and the lifestyle of the pureblood high society in the Potter series worked out well for late Victorian through Edwardian society culture. After all the research into Criminal Psychology and that era of English history, I finally finished my book in 2009. Well, it turned out to be a three book series. I received a lot of good feedback from literary agents, who told me to try again in a couple years with pitching it to them because they weren’t taking on any unestablished writers given the economical situation at the time. Over the last few years I decided I’d rather self publish that series, because there’s a style to it that I want to keep intact and they are quite long. So, I decided to establish myself before I do that, I’d write another book to pitch to agents and publishers.
I hit a sophomore slump that I’m still in. I feel like nothing I come up with is as good as those first books. I started writing them after my ex husband got in the car crash that nearly killed him and we separated for the first time, before we were married. I got in my own car crash a couple months after his. I was in a very dark place mentally and then going through post partum after the birth of my daughter and then our final separation gave me all the emotional pull that I needed to really write out a good series like that. The emotions needed to write that subject matter came easily.
Because of my experience and talent in the theatre, writing has come second nature to me. There’s something very simple to me about taking a character, understanding their emotions and then feeling it myself in a way that allows me to put it down into words. But I, myself, have been in a much better frame of mind over the last few years. I’m disinclined to channel a character’s struggle and to bring myself down because it has a real effect on my personal life when I do, but my writing suffers by trying to write something second hand without allowing myself to feel what that character may be going through. To me it feels like half assed acting. But then, I get down on myself because I’m not really writing.
I completed NANO this last November. I’m scrapping the entire book because of this problem and it’s the third time I’ve finished this story and thrown it out. It feels flat, emotionless. I have a great idea with it, a character I spent four years developing through RP but I’m so detached from the emotions he’s supposed to experience that it shows through my writing. A big fault of this has been RP. I’ve used it now for almost a decade to flesh out characters. My most played, I can throw into any situation and know how they’ll respond or react because I’ve written them through such an array of scenarios. But RP has declined greatly, because people are afraid of anything that isn’t happy go lucky, filled with flower fields and Disney themes. Anonymous journals meant to cut people down and tear apart characters were rampant for awhile and I received a lot of hell for my favorites because they weren’t happy all the time and went through “real” human experiences. And that’s very detrimental in a literary hobby. I’m not really roleplaying anymore, partly due to this and partly due to the fact that games no longer live past a couple months and it feels like a waste of time.
I still gets spurts of creativity. After watching Cloud Atlas, I wrote this beautiful piece that’s going to wind up in my short story collection. I actually spent about a month or two going through Ben Whishaw’s filmography and he’s been an absolutely brilliant muse for me for the simple fact alone that he’s one of those few actors that has the talent to play such a vast majority of roles and each one be so unique. He’s almost like an artistic blank canvas and the roles he has picked have given spark. But, it hasn’t been enough for me to discipline myself to sit and actually write like I used to.
I’ve been trying to indulge in all my little writer’s quirks. I like to smoke while I write, like I’m doing right now. I have an almost uncontrollable OCD tendency with my journals and composition notebooks. I can’t write in one that has been previously written in for another thought so I’ve got a handful of unused notebooks. Pens that have haven’t been touched either. I have all my little playlists for writing based on mood and theme, all classical pieces, movie scores, instrumentals. And yet, I still sit letting the music flow while I stare at a blank page or a blinking cursor because I can’t seem to tap back into that vein of emotion that allows me to write my best work.
I don’t know what to do or how to get past this writer’s block. I’ve got pages organized into story ideas and an outline for this short story book I’ve started, but I’m stalled at getting it from head to fingers.
Greatest thing I ever read was a quote by Ernest Hemingway, “The first draft of anything is shit.” My first series went through four drafts and two complete rewrites before I submitted it. I’ve been thinking again of possibly giving up style to submit it again just to get something done with it, but I know that’s not really what I want to do. I don’t want it syphoned through editors and turned into something it’s not meant to be. It’s length and set up has purpose. But am I just saying that out of fear and lack of esteem like I have with all of my chances at doing the things I love in the past, as I’ve mentioned before?
I can’t write happy stories. They’re boring to me. My favorite modern writers are Chuck Palahniuk, Bret Easton Ellis, Irvine Welsh, David Sedaris. There is an unmistakable beauty in the darker side of human nature and it’s something I’ve always grasped onto, perhaps due to my own experiences in life and the diagnosis of being bipolar. I’m just more enamored by the bigger complexities of the psyche and society but I have to get over not allowing myself to feel those things so that I can do my characters and their stories justice. I just don’t understand why I’m always holding myself back.