Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Vain was Gandalf's trust in me

Work has prevented me from doing any revising for about ten days.

Nearer to the truth, work has been the excuse I poured myself into. A necessity. But also an excuse to avoid writing. Avoid writing?  Why ever would I avoid my story when a passion for it has occupied my mind for years?

It was a strange phenomenon and one I didn't understand at first.  My first critique returned to me a laundry list of suggested improvements. The list did not bowl me over all at once. It didn't sadden me to see a stranger say my story needed to be reworked and rewritten.  I already knew those things. I sought out the critique (indeed, I had told the reader to "hold nothing back" and to be as "blunt as possible") because I wanted to know where the limits of my writing ability unfairly chained my story.  I wanted to set my story free.

But after taking a day or two to digest the critique, I discovered all the wind had leaked from my sails.  I was floating in some kind of writer's doldrums.

It was a scary place. I waited for my writing energy to return and power me forward once again. But it did not come. An inner gate-keeper barred my way.

You see, the critique helped to educate my editing eyes. I reread my first chapter and it was so far from the mark that I had to face the possibility it might never be good enough for other people to read and enjoy. It is likely that the only people to read Blind Guardian will be my friends and family.  And it is more likely than not that even they will skim to the end just to be supportive.

So the question left in my mind was: Am I okay with that?

My initial answer was: Yes, because telling this story is the most meaningful undertaking of my life.

But that answer, while truthful, did not satisfy the gate keeper.  Another realization was yet before me.

If this story is the most meaningful undertaking of my life and it isn't important to anyone but myself, then wouldn't that mean that my life's work was unimportant?  Am I just wasting my time?

It was time to do some serious soul searching.

It sounds odd, but I started thinking about my own character arc as an author.  Character arcs are all about what a character wants versus what a character needs. Eventually a character learns the difference between those two things.  How they react governs the rest of the story.  My writing doldrums were the place I finally distinguished between what I wanted and what I needed as an author.

What I wanted was to write a meaningful story to inspire people in the way my favorite novels inspire me. I wanted to share a story and characters that I loved with other people.  I wanted other people to be able to love the story as I do and to share in its joy.

What I needed was to accept that the worth of my life's work cannot be determined by anyone but myself.  I either write Blind Guardian for myself or else I write something that will not make me happy. 

There is a profound difference between want and need. When I chose to accept what I needed, I was able to begin revising my story again.  I am sure it will take a great deal of effort to internalize the lesson.  But the making of Blind Guardian continues and I am happy. 

No comments:

Post a Comment