Back when I was writing Highway of Mirrors
, my characters pretty much took over my brain. I was living, breathing, and sleeping in their head-spaces, to the point that I started taking my coffee the way they take theirs. (This wasn't so bad with the character who drinks hers the way I always took mine anyway, but it was a bit jarring when I suddenly switched to the fellow who takes his with milk, no sugar -- yuck! Except it wasn't yuck; it tasted just right. To this day, I can't answer coherently when a waitress asks me if I want cream and/or sugar with my coffee, because I don't know until I taste it who's mind-set I'm drinking it from.) This was occasionally entertaining to watch, I'm told, and more than a little disconcerting from the inside, but it meant that when I sat down to write, I could drop into the character's point of view completely and effortlessly with no preparation whatsoever.
And I realized recently that that's what's not
happening with Falling From Ground
. I've been spending a lot of time with the world-building; Mars is shaping up to be a fun place, for definitions of "fun" that include a certain amount of evil writer cackling. But I haven't been getting into the main character's head-space at all
, to the point that I'd even lost sight of one of his major characteristics that, while it becomes a major focus later, needs to be at least hovering around the edges right from the start.
There are reasons for this. Not least is that his head-space isn't a very pleasant place to be. I like to think that I've achieved some contentment with my life in the last couple of years, and I'm going to have to shatter that to really get inside this guy's head. Bluntly, I don't want to go there. But as one of my favorite exchanges about writing puts it:
"It would hurt like hell."
"What would that matter, if it made a good book?"
There are other reasons. I'm effin' tired, and emotional engagement takes energy. There's the usual new-novel inertia; the same force that pushes for completion with 60,000 words behind it makes getting started a challenging proposition. And there's probably the fact that I've been taking a caffeine break for the past two weeks (it was either detox, or start buying Red Bull in larger cans). That last, at least, will be over in a few more days, and it may be that this effort will have to wait until I've had that first, sweet, much-desired mocha.
But as for the rest of it... the only way out is through. I'll just have to suck it up and do it, and warn everyone around me not to take any weird mood changes personally for the next few days. And do my best to compartmentalize it all, of course, so that I can step back out as needed, which will be an interesting exercise given that writing a novel is pretty much a road-map for obsession. Ultimately, it doesn't matter if I Don't Wanna; there's a book that needs to be written.