Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Writerly thoughts: When writing knocks you off balance (#Heistclub)

I started this post in Facebook and realized I wouldn't have enough space to go at it, so:

Writerly confession time:
I shifted to writing romance in my mid-20s because that was the time when I no longer wrote as therapy. Prior to my first book (published in my real name), I wrote to work through difficult emotions in my life. Until I didn't need to anymore.

And since the shift, I shied away from any writing that explored those difficult issues. Because they dredged up things that were better buried. Because a lot of my well-being depended on keeping those things in the past, and moving forward, and keeping balanced. So I wrote about love, and people coming together, and happy endings, and caring deeply, and having that 'caring deeply' be enough to resolve the obstacles I put in my characters' way.Because those things kept me happy and balanced and let me create and still tell stories.

This year I wanted to explore more in my writing. To dig a little deeper, to talk about different things, to stretch. I started shifting to romance-suspense with the Takedown trilogy, and I've had a lot of fun with it. My MC and LI are both amoral criminal types working for even worse people, but on the whole it's been fun and breezy and enjoyable to create. Still light, still balanced, still happy.

And then came #heistclub. (#Heistclub is this prompt I'm working on along with lots of different writers to come up with Filipino crime fiction.) And this is all my fault, really.

I could've approached the prompt with the fun side of crime fiction in mind -- and that's what I intended to do, at first. A little Italian Job, a little Ocean's Eleven. But then I started plotting and outlining, and I ended up with something...not fun. More We Need To Talk About Kevin. Murder, and hate, and deceit.

I wonder: How did I get here? Maybe it's the advice to 'say something with what you're writing.' Or maybe these are things that I wanted to explore after all, and this is the perfect time to go for it.

It's not been easy. As I am writing through this I feel those buried things clawing their way up to the surface. It's unsettling. Every time I face my working file, something in me shrinks. Do I really want to get into so-and-so's headspace, again? It was terrible the first time. Or is it really the fear that these distasteful things I am describing are a little bit too close to home?

And the biggest fear of all: what if after all the anxiety and imbalance that this assignment's brought up, I end up with something that sucked? WAH.

But I'm going to finish it -- you know that's what I'll do. Let's just hope it doesn't suck. In the meantime, let me go for a run and work those icky thoughts away. And then I'll go back to something fluffy after this.

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