On writing simultaneous novels, Part 3
I’m dragging my feet at the moment, for a variety of reasons. Beyond the distractions of entering the holiday season and the natural instinct to hibernate that always arises with the reduced daylight, I have encountered an unexpected hazard to this project– excessive sympathy for one of my main characters. You’d think this might be an advantage, except that his dominant characteristic at this point of the story is discouragement. For various reasons he finds himself completely helpless, trapped in improbable circumstances with no one to call on and no means of escape. He has no allies, and to be honest he’s discouraging me no end.
I know that, if I can get him just a little farther forward, he’ll gain the ally he needs and end up occupying a different (though not necessarily easier) position than he does now. The trouble is, his situation is an exaggerated reflection of my own at present. An enterprise begun partially as a means to forget is now serving as a constant reminder. So I end up playing mindless match-3 computer games or reading manga when I ought to be working, because I don’t want to think about circumstances.
My dream is a sort of writer’s sanitorium: a private room overlooking well-kept lawns and some aged deciduous trees, a relaxed schedule, and voluntary opportunities for recreation and crafts classes. And above all, large blocks of time left empty for the various activities that make up the process of writing fiction. In my case, that includes researching (you’d be surprised what I research for fantasy novels), drafting blueprints of key locations, and meditating on plot developments while completely motionless and supine.
My writing style is, I admit, rather ponderously holistic. It involves my entire life. When I have only an hour or two every few days to devote to it, I become unspeakably frustrated. Frustration turns to discouragement, and discouragement to inertia, and inertia to stagnation. This four-novel project is presently looming so large (compared to the time I have available to devote to it) that I’m practically a walking quagmire. I’m stuck.