Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Seira Struggles

In the interest of a tongue-in-cheek reference to a writer stereotype involving coffee addictions, I thought I'd include this picture with my post. Photographed by Suat Eman, it quite effectively captures my mood and condition right now.

Imagine the blank pages of the notebook and laptop, and the pen hovering in my head/my fingers hovering over the keys. What to write, what to write? Substitute the coffee with chamomile tea or Oasis citrus, and you have my desk at the moment. I sit, and I drink my drink, and I struggle. Yes, I struggle. I feel like Sisyphus, pushing the rock endlessly up the hill. Or Prometheus, with my liver being torn out repeatedly, such is this agony.

My struggle centres around my protagonist and narrator and key-est of characters in HALF. Her name is Seira Cross, as she is still named and hopefully will continue to be unless I take a sudden and violent dislike to the name. I've hit a roadblock in the writing of HALF, after a grand total of three pages, simply because of her. Don't get me wrong. I love this character. At least, I will once she's more real to me. But she's taking her time fleshing out in my head, and until she fleshes, I can't work well with mere bones.

I just can't quite get a handle on who she is. I don't know if it's because my mind's distracted with so many other things, or if reading a few lovely books recently has made me feel like my heroine must be like those wonderful heroines, or if it's simply just that Seira hasn't yet decided what she wants to be and who she is, and I'm waiting for her. What's she like? Is she rebellious, or quiet? Does she have a mischievous streak, or is she very naive? Is she proud and confident, or does she struggle with insecurities and fears? Does she like opera or rock? What does she dream of? Who does she love most in the world? Actually, I already know the answer to that one, at least for the beginning. So many questions and so many quandaries. I can't just choose for her. She needs to take shape in my head.

On a brighter note, there are many things I could try that will, hopefully, compel her to shape up faster.

I write this partly out of frustration and despair. I'm in that state where all I want to do is throw a boot at the door, or pour hot tea over my laptop and electrocute my characters. Much as I love them, electrocution is tempting. The only reason I am avoiding such drastic measures is because I can't afford another laptop, and I fear my beloved and slightly tattered boots will not survive a flinging at the door.

I needed to write this out and 'talk' it through. But I'm also posting this because I think it's a useful and hopefully interesting (compelling? Charming? Scintillating? Or just plain tripe?) insight into the kinds of struggles a writer must fight through during the course of writing a novel, especially in these early stages. Struggles with Seira is only one kind: characterization. There will be others: plot problems, pace struggles, editing operas... I always find it fascinating to glimpse authors' writing processes and see them overcome their challenges, so I thought I'd share pieces of mine.

Hopefully, this challenge will be overcome soon. I am nothing if not pigheaded, and I am also too impatient in nature to wait for Seira to make up her mind. I'll peel her back, layer by layer, if I have to.

1 comment:

  1. i'm sure you'll sort it out in the end, you usually do! may as well let it flesh in its own time :-)