Monday, September 12, 2011

On Procrastination and Mommy Issues

I had the extreme good fortune to attend the SCBWI LA conference back in August, and it was awesome. I listened to a ton of amazing and inspirational panels from authors who, to my shock, didn't point at me and kick me out for not being a 'real author'. Now, I know I shouldn't feel this way, but I can't help it. Because even though I've written a book (and a half), it doesn't feel like I'm committed to it in the way I should be. I've been *gulp* hiding from my book.

Libba Bray gave one of the funniest talks I've ever heard. She described that point in your revision process where you contemplate faking your own death and running off to hide somewhere, because THAT would be easier than fixing your book. The moral of her talk was that, one, you'll make it through, and two, often your book isn't 'right' because you don't want to face something hard and personal. It's those hard and personal things that make the book amazing.

I, of course, nodded and laughed and went on my way because, honestly, there is nothing 'hard' and 'personal' about my book. Come on, aliens bent on (hilarious, hopefully) world destruction? Not exactly a deep insight into my soul. It's more a deep insight into my love of science fiction and campy goodness. So I continued to procrastinate and avoid my book and blissfully ignored all of Libba's and everyone else's good advice to look harder.

And then, of course, it hit me. I realized WHY I was avoiding my book. It's because I need to fix a character, and not just any character, but a very important one. The driving force behind the entire plot line, Sef's mother, is so one-dimensional it's laughable. And I didn't want to deal with her because *insert ironic laugh here* I DON'T WANT TO DEAL WITH A WOMAN WHO WOULD ABANDON HER CHILD. I don't LIKE Eve.

Now, thankfully, I don't have Mommy Issues. My mother is an incredibly loving, supportive woman who was always there for me (and still is today.) But I am a mother. And I realized that no matter what excuses I gave Eve for leaving (and she has very good ones), I couldn't forgive her. I can't separate my mama-bear instinct for my daughter from my character. And there you go. Damn her, Libba was right.

I was hiding from the HARD job of understanding Eve, even empathizing with her. I know I wrote the story, and I could always CHANGE the way things are. I could make her more sympathetic or her actions seem less Machiavellian. But that won't serve the story. My job is to make you, the reader, understand why she made the choices she did. So, starting tomorrow (yes, I set a deadline for myself), I'm going to go back into my story. It's going to be hard, and I may cry and curse and probably direct a lot of that at Ms. Bray. But it'll be worth it. The fear is tinged with excitement. And THAT feeling is why I write.


Becky Taylor said...

Oh lovely post. Glad I popped over from twitter. I HEAR you about hiding from your book. And being a mother, there is always the legitimate excuse of "but the kids need..." to utilize as said "valid" reason.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go organize my daughter's bookshelf (ahem)

Miranda Hardy said...

Glad to read you are facing the issue with your character. I'm sure we've all had trouble with our MS in one way or another. Keep writing!

Jessica Love said...

Oh, Libba...she's so freaking wise.

Good luck with this!

Tameka said...

I love this post! Good luck with it! Libba is so what Willis was talking about it's ridiculous!

Sophie said...

Perfect post. Now - go, go, go!!!

Cheryl said...

I'm sorry it took me a month to read this, but WOW, great insight!

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