Hi. My name is L, and I am addicted to tweaking.
Not that kind of tweaking. Although that would make for a far more interesting blog post, I’m sure. Nope, I’m fighting the urge to “just go in and read over what I’ve done” with my book and then change this word here, and add that sentence here, and then because I added that sentence, I go even further back and add a tiny detail so there is some foreshadowing goin’ on… STOP IT!
I can’t seem to pull myself away from Editor Mode. And I have to. It’s crucial that I do this. I am never going to finish this final draft if I don’t learn to “pick up where I left off” and move forward in the novel ONLY. None of this shit with being a perfectionist. And certainly, none of this shit with suddenly comparing my protagonist’s voice with characters from books I happen to be reading. That bullcrap’s got to stop now, too.
I’m reading three books at once, although Dragonfly in Amber is hanging out on my nightstand all, “Mehhh.” I’ll get to it sometime. But right now I’m reading a book highly recommended by one-a you guys, and the writing is so fantastic in terms of characterizations and building believable, relatable and unique people that seem to live and breathe someplace: Dark House (Experiment in Terror #1).
The protagonist is very true to herself, always. The author doesn’t ever put thoughts in her head or words in her mouth that don’t fit. The character seems like someone I could know, she’s drawn so vividly. She’s funny, too. And I love her quirks and the way she is reacting to all the weird ghostly shit going on in the lighthouse… Layered. Nuanced. And still, wrapped in down to earth, friendly, unpretentious language so you don’t even notice the skill of the author without stopping to think about it. It’s amazing, and I definitely strive to create characters who exist like that.
That means I can’t sit down at page 1, chapter 1, and start trying to mess with my own protagonist’s voice. No way, not right now. Maybe not ever. I know better. I must have faith that I know what I’m doing. I’ve gotten this far. My character exists, and has his own voice, and it’s never going to sound like any other character. That’s how this novel-thing works.
I guess it’s just tempting to apply some of someone else’s coolness to your own project. It’s gonna happen. There are a lot of great books out there, and a universe full of individual characters. Some will grab me more than others. It’s supposed to be that way. That’s the fun and joy in all of this fiction-loving madness!
The third book I’m reading is My Name is Memory by Anne Brashares. I picked it up in the store months ago because the cover and title intrigued me, and then the back flap and a few sample passages hooked me in. I haven’t gotten to it yet… along with about 5 other books in that same particular stack in my living room… but yesterday morning I picked it up out of the blue for some reason and started reading it. I should have been getting dressed for work, and instead I was lying on my bed turning pages.
I did the same exact thing this morning before work, too! It’s stupid! I have enough to read, and enough of my own stuff to work on! Leave it alone. I should make this a reward for finishing the revisions: Once I’m done, I am allowed to read this new book for real.
I feel absolutely surrounded in fiction these days. It’s really nice. I find myself resenting the non-fictiony stuff, though. Like housework, actual work at work, social obligations and party planning… all things I do need to do, and cannot put off for a number of very good reasons. My book’s all I think about when I am not thinking about other people’s books. That’s what’s important to me right now. I don’t really know what to do to change that. Or if I even want to.
I’m walking around, doing what I have to do every day, but inside I am somewhere else most of the time. I wonder if people can see it, or if it’s just me feeling narcissistic. Mostly, I’m just curious… because of all the characters out there, I’m the one I can’t step outside of and really see for who she is.