Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Table Talk: Character Storms
Welcome back to Table Talk. Sorry we're late, we got here as soon as we could. This week, Barry Reese, Bobby Nash and Mike Bullock discuss doubts, storms, characters and lost inspiration.
Question: All writers have periods where they doubt their abilities - how do you weather those emotional storms?
Bobby: Good question, Barry. Self-doubt is one of those things that I think every creative person deals with at one time or another. Sometimes when I turn in a story to an editor I wonder if this will be the one where they realize that I don’t know what I’m doing.
I don’t have any specific method for dealing with self-doubt other than to just keep pushing forward and keep working in spite of whatever doubts I may or may not have. That’s worked for me. It doesn’t help those moments where I doubt myself go away, but I don’t let them hinder me.
Mike: I teeter back and forth between feeling like I have no business writing anything to feeling like I'm unstoppable. This seems to apply to just about everything in my life, so I've learned to average it and just keep pressing on. Even if I ever did feel like I should never write again, though, I don't think I could shut it off. The ideas, characters, conflicts and stories just never seem to stop marching out of the recesses of my mind…
Barry: Anyone who knows me knows that I have a love/hate relationship with writing. There are days that I enjoy it but mostly, I really don’t. I write because it’s a compulsion that I can’t get rid of. If I go too long without writing, my fingers literally start hurting. I miss the tactile sensation of slamming my fingertips against the keyboard.
So I often have days where I think my work is utter crap. That doesn’t stop me from writing – I often wish it would. But I end up working on something else and the cycle continues.
So how do I get past those emotional storms? I don’t, really. I just allow my ‘sickness’ to keep me going. LOL
People often don’t believe me when I say that I frequently dream of the ideas stopping, of the voice in my head finally growing silent, but it’s true.
I write. I’m a writer.
But I’m not sure it’s completely by choice.
Bobby: It is a bit like a compulsion at times. There are days where the last thing I want to do is write, but yet there’s a part of me that feels like I have to do it everyday. I guess writing gets in your blood, huh?
Question: Speaking of it never stopping, what do you do when you're involved in something totally unrelated and inspiration strikes? How do you keep from losing the idea, yet still stay focused on whatever you're doing at the time that prevents you from writing?
Bobby: This happens more often than I would like. And it happens at the most damned inconvenient times too, usually when I’m on deadline with another project. Sometimes you just have to break away from what you’re doing and get it written down, or at the very least make a few notes, but then you have to pull yourself away and get back to the project on deadline. When doing novels, I generally get the urge to start something new about halfway through.
I’m very lucky in that I can generally work a plot in my head and not forget it until I can start on that project. The reality is that I have far more ideas than I’ll ever have time to write. It’s deciding which ones to work on and which to abandon that can be tough.
Mike: I just try to scribble and/or type some quick notes with just enough to make sure I don't lose it before I have time to really mold it into something. Every once in awhile I'll go back and read the notes and not "get" what I had at the time, but more often than not it works. However, it also means I have little pieces of paper all over the place with story tidbits, character ideas or scene scenarios scribbled on them…
Barry: I’m suffering from the effects of this right now! I had started a Lazarus Gray story and things were really clicking but then my deadlines for a couple of Pulp Obscura things forced me to set it aside. Now that I’ve done both of those, I’m trying to get back into the Lazarus story and it’s missing something. I’ve lost the handle on it. Usually, I’ll just push onward and more often than not, I get the mojo back. But it is frustrating.
If it’s all my own projects and the only deadlines are self-imposed, then I’ll usually follow my muse and work on whatever is inspiring me at the moment, setting other things aside.
Mike: I actually had that happen (the lost mojo thing) on my Rook/Xander story. But, when I got back into and really pushed on, I think what I ended up putting down on paper was much stronger than what I'd originally had in mind. Sometimes, however, it ends up as something I eventually abandon as I decide to start over from the beginning.
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