I’m the first to admit, I love Texas weather–most of the time. The last several days, not so much. Here in the DFW area, our current temperature is 1 degree with a wind chill of -11. We have about four inches of snow on the ground and the roads are icy. The last I heard, there are still hundreds of thousands of folks across the state without power and the rolling blackouts that ERCOT promised would be only 15-45 minutes are hours and hours long. We’re being asked to conserve energy and stay off the roads. Making matters worse, especially for the power grid, the storm system that dropped all the white sh*t on us didn’t limit itself to DFW. Most of the state was hit with extremely low temps and snow or ice. So my toes are cold and my brain is frozen. All of which makes blogging difficult this morning.
Because of that, I went looking for something that might trigger a few cogent thoughts this morning and came across a post by Kris Rusch, linked by The Passive Guy. One think Kris said that stuck with me is this:
And I’m writing on a project just for me, something I haven’t done for a long time. The project just for me does some things that long-time friends might not approve of. The project just for me discusses a few things that people in my world probably would prefer me not to discuss. The project just for me is a tiny and somewhat joyous rebellion in the middle of the cluster**** that has been our lives in the past year.
I can’t tell you how much I enjoy that little bit of freedom. I know quite well that the project just for me will eventually get published. In the past, I would have lied to myself and said I wasn’t going to publish that project at all.
These two paragraphs resonated with me for two reasons. One is simple. I know an author who has such a project, one they’ve worked on off and on for years. One they have often said they couldn’t publish because of how people would react. One they now find themselves working on again. One I–and others–have said needs to be written, for the writer if for no one else and to hell with what “everyone else” thinks. And yes, Writer-X, I’m looking straight at you.
But it resonated with me for another reason. I realized the other day as I was doing some final edits on Jaguar Rising that my last several books/stories fell into that category. I wrote for me. I wrote the story I wanted and in the way I wanted. I quit fighting myself and trusted my gut for a change. It’s been a long time since I’ve done that.
As Sarah and others will tell you, I tend to get too much in my head and second-guess myself. That’s especially true when life starts hitting me about the head and shoulders with things I have little to no control over. I do control my writing so, in those times, I tend to tighten the grip on writing too much.
Or, as Sarah says, edit the life out of my characters.
I fight against it. But it’s how I cope–until I get hit over the head, usually by Myrtle the Evil Muse, and forced to stop.
And I realized as I editing Jaguar Rising, I’d started doing it again. I knew it subconsciously but it wasn’t until I took a hard look at it yesterday that I realized what I’d done. The opening felt forced because I was forcing the characters into a situation they wouldn’t be in, at least not at this point in the series. I’d let myself fall into the trap of not letting established characters be who they were.
So out came pen and paper–well, the ReMarkable tablet because I didn’t want to get out of my nice warm cocoon of blankets and cats–and I started doodling. I figured out what the opening should have been and blocked it out. Hopefully, I can get it written today. Assuming my fingers and brain don’t freeze.
I’m going to let my characters be who they are and I’m going to let myself write the story I want and not what the controlling brain wants it to be.
So here’s my advice this cold morning: give yourself permission to write what you want to. Don’t worry about what the critics might say. Sometimes, you have to simply lift a finger in salute and say “screw it”. And, as Kris commented (and I’m paraphrasing), after the clusterfuck 2020 was, we all need a moment or three of doing what we want, not what someone else tells us to.
The featured image is out my front window yesterday morning.