Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Tension is Aging Me

This morning, someone took a picture of the back of my car. It was at least the second time this has happened. Both times, I haven't been terribly sure whether the picture was intended to be of my license plate, which is "L33T", or of all the bumper decorations: Kill Your Television, Flying Spaghetti Monster, a yoga sticker, and an MST3K sticker. I can't help being curious about what the focus was, the thing she wanted to capture. In any case, the blurry ass end of my car is surely on Facebook somewhere.

I was whining to my mom recently about how hard it is to make up words and names in a different language while I'm writing, and she asked me why I didn't just put placeholders in and come back to make up the words later. I told her that when I do that I start to get lazy, and just put placeholders in when I can't think up a good metaphor, or a good bit of dialogue that says what I want it to say. Before long I'm writing Swiss cheese. I could already see that starting to happen; I had forgotten to invent a female housekeeper character earlier on, so when I needed her at this point in the draft I just put in "female servant" in red so I could give her a name and a personality later. Shortly after, I put "[dessert]" instead of creating a name for a dessert, because <whine> it was almost 10, I've got work in the morning</whine>. When I came back to the draft last night, the [dessert] omission really bothered me, and I couldn't write well until I had invented a word for the damned dessert. I still don't know what the dessert actually IS, or what it tastes like (how can you get sugar underground?), but, you know, baby steps.

So, last night's work was reasonably good. I've cracked 50,000 words. I have that same confidence problem I had when I was writing the horror novel most recently; my characters are doing things, talking to each other, and I kind of can't believe that it's actually interesting. I feel like I could just cut all of this stuff, that there must be an exciting or meaningful scene up ahead that I should be getting to, and no one wants to read this character-building, world-building stuff. So writing about it seems contradictory, unnecessary.

This feeling is amplified because I'm reading a book right now that's all about conversations and emotions between characters (at the moment), and is really not very interesting. The author writes pretty well, but the situations between characters just kind of go on and on and I'm wondering when they're going to get to the point, and what the point may be. There just isn't any tension; it plods. I'm not really sure if you can tell whether lack of tension is happening to your own work, so I'm worried that all this writing and effort might be wasted, because I won't be able to tell on my own if my characters are boring their audience. (Because, of course, my own words are endlessly fascinating to me. And yes, I do sometimes go by Miss Piggy.)

My birthday's in two days. I feel conflicted. I know 30 isn't very old; I know my 30s will be much better than my 20s; I know that no one's going to shove me into Carrousel and blow me up. At the same time, I feel like something big and amorphous is coming to an end, and I will only be able to look back to know what it is. I also feel the same old insecurity about how I haven't set the world on fire yet. As far as that goes, I keep running across examples of people I admire who didn't really get going until they were a good deal older than I am.

Still. 30. Maybe the world just isn't flammable.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think you are going to like 30 :)