Writing is a struggle against silence.
The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe.
I believe both of these things. Writing is a struggle, especially as one improves (or tries to, at least). Am I really doing this as best I can? Could I make this character more real, could I make the situation more dire? At times, you want to just shrug your shoulders, give up already, do something easy for a change.
But “easy” things don’t make you think. They don’t wake you up in the middle of the night, your mind racing with possibilities, your mood and pulse jazzed with the adrenaline coming from the words you’re going to write. They don’t make you curl your hands in despair that “I’ll never get this right!,” either.
That internal critic wants me to shut up, more often than not. It wants me to be a quiet, good girl who sits in the corner, smiling at those who pass near enough to reflect their light onto me. But you know what? Sitting in someone else’s reflected glory isn’t nearly as fun as making your own mess, and turning it into something wonderful.
In the process of making that mess, of discovering what to write, and what your characters will do–how they’ll react–a writer has to figure out what really matters. Writers ask: “What is really at stake, here? How will this really resonate, instead of sitting limp and dead on the page?” Answering that means putting your passions on the page. It means, as the Flaubert quote says, “discovering what you believe.”
As I’m doing the world building for My Next Novel (honest, I’ll try for a better working title once “World-Building, Round One” is over!), I’m finding my passions coming out in little ways, both in the world and in both main characters. They certainly aren’t “me,” but each has parts of me contained in them. And the underlying basis of the story–of their world–is something I’m very interested in. It shows, I think, in that I keep coming back to it, keep tweaking it and making it better. Their world fascinates me.
How will it all work out? I don’t know yet. I’m still making a mess, still twisting and braiding the strands together into–I hope–something bigger and better than the sum of its parts. But this I can promise you: if I stayed did the easy thing, if I stayed silent, this book–this world–would never happen. And that would make me very sad.