Yep, I'm in a very stuck place right now.
It doesn't help that I've been pretty sick for a week (COVID-19? I don't know? I kinda hope so at this point because if not and I get that next I'm already worn out from this bout). I'm also hormonal so everything feels worse than it is. Disclaimer, I guess.
But none of that changes the fact that I've abandoned another story over 20K words into it (probably more, I don't really know) and I'm lost, creatively speaking.
I'm still at the writing job. So I'm still writing. In case you're not up to date, it's a job where I'm paid to write fiction, so...pretty amazing on a basic level. I'm a professional writer supporting my family with my writing. I'm incredibly proud of that and I feel very fortunate.
On another level, though, I'm really uneasy. I worry that the requirements imposed by this job are interfering with my own creativity. It's not all the job's fault, though. What it comes down to is that I can't decide what to write.
There's this idea I've had for a long time that I made two runs at. A Tower of Doors. A magical tower with thousands of doors leading to different worlds. I love that idea. I love the endless possibilities.
But I tried writing a hero/heroine's journey using it, and ended up stopping (I think at least 50K in?) last year when I was on the verge of getting hired by my current job because I wanted to write something quick for attention from that company. Inkitt. They have a Wattpad-like website. I wanted to get something up on it asap. So I wrote this short little romance/fantasy. It was fun, but not from my heart.
So then I got the job and was happy writing just for that for a while, and then things got frustrating and complicated as they do, and I realized it really was not enough. I had to write for myself.
So I started another Tower of Doors novel (also on the Inkitt website) and I had also really been wanting to try a "five man band." Except for reasons that aren't clear to me my five man band insisted on becoming a seven man band and it's unmanageable. And also unsatisfying because the characters are all 20-30 years old and something I keep coming back to is the need to write an older protagonist.
I can't seem to find a way to do that.
I like reading YA fiction. I tend to gravitate to it, in fact, I'm not sure why. What is it about YA that hooks me? Why can't I read books with 40 year old protagonists? Do they not exist* or am I just not looking in the right places for them? When I find one do I turn a blind eye without realizing it?
I'm also struggling with the question of whether the next thing I write should be another novel or a screenplay. I'm obviously much more comfortable with a novel. But maybe that's a reason to do a new format.
*I mean of course books with 40 year old protagonists exist. Just not necessarily with the kinds of stories I like. Fantasy/adventure stories. This is me, begging for recommendations.
I want to write a story with at least one Deaf character. Other characters with disabilities, too. But I worry I won't do it right. I had a Deaf character in the most recent Tower book, and I liked her. But would Deaf readers like her?
Representation is really important to me. I want to have PoC in my books. Someone on a forum recently said to me (she doesn't know me or anything I write) that if I cared about racism I wouldn't write PoC characters at all. That kind of gutted me.
I don't approach writing characters that are different from me arbitrarily. I research. But I get why someone would feel like that's not enough. It's just, if I don't include people with disabilities I don't have, people from cultures that are not mine, people who are of different races, or have other differences to me, then what kind of story do I end up with? The same white bread homogeneous crap I see way too much of already.
But I think this is contributing to my block. Because it's a tangle and I want to do right by people. It's fundamentally important to me. I can't just shrug and say "I'm not going to please everyone." I'm fine with not pleasing Nazis, and people like them. I do care about pleasing people from marginalized groups. I just do, it's part of who I am. And not because I want a cookie (though if I'm honest? I probably do, I just realize that's not helpful and try to squash it). Because I want to help change the world.
I think writing changes the world.
I think if you write white bread crap full of old tired tropes that have been shown to be harmful you're making the world a worse place. If instead you're creating fiction with new ideas, with suggestions of how the world could be, or with representations of how the world really is...that's positive.
But all these big ambitions aren't helping me come up with a story from my heart.
Paul Krueger, on Twitter, recently tweeted that you should really go ahead and write that super weird thing that's uniquely you because you'll find success that way. But like, I don't know what my super weird thing is.
What's your super weird thing? Have you written it?
Got any book suggestions for me?