The hardest thing about writing MU4 so far has been making a personal connection with my characters. I know what I want from them, and I think I know how I want them to evolve, but getting to those points has been fraught with missing by inches.
I also know, this time for a fact, that I’m not trying hard enough. I’m still suffering through waves of the Don’t Wannas with an equal serving of Easily Distracted. I want to write this novel, damn it all, I’m just avoiding working on it, and I’m starting to piss myself off because of it.
If this means I have to take desperate measures, I’ll do it. I’ve already uninstalled or removed several apps from my phone to minimize distraction during Day Job breaks I should be spending less passively. But though I’ve been doing all my actual writing work at home and I do close my web browsers come writing time, I still have too many distractions. If this means unpinning nearly every shortcut from the Task Bar, so be it. Making it harder to open distraction apps usually works for me simply by utilizing the Out of Sight Out of Mind method, and I’d rather not use one of those ‘won’t/can’t open until forty-five minutes pass’ apps if I can help it.
Still — the issue remains that when I am writing, I’m still not quite making that connection. I’m not connecting on that emotional level I’m aiming for. They still feel too distant. And again, that’s a personal issue I have to work through: I have to let myself establish that level, allow myself to take that deep dive. I know I can do it and I’ve done it before.
Eventually I’ll make that connection I’m longing for. I just need to keep trying.
I’ve been thinking a lot about what some of the themes in MU4 might be, and I think one of the most important is about personal connections; the ones we make, the ones we destroy, the ones we wish we had and the ones we protect with everything we have.
I posted a rough version of Chapter 1 some months back, in which a young woman named Eika is dropped off in a deserted town and forced to undergo a solo trial to prove her worth as part of the Order of the Blessed Ones. Her story of connection is about the utter lack of it in her failure to live up to her family’s and community’s expectations. In Chapter 2 we’ll see the connection between two new Alien Relations Unit officers, Lizzie Kapranos and Ruu-Sseikassi Tiiegasi, who will have a somewhat unconventional connection with each other that’s different than Alec Poe and Caren Johnson’s in the previous books. And later on we’ll see an arc about Ampryss and Shirai, and how their connections to their original fates have changed because of the Season of the Ninth Embodiment.
I’ve chosen ‘personal connections’ to be one of the backbones of MU4 (and possibly other related stories) partly because of what Denni Johnson did near the end of The Balance of Light: she pretty much broke all the rules and expectations and sent fate off in uncharted directions. Every detail, every question and every choice is related to what connections the characters make, because that is the only anchor with each other that they truly have.
Of course, this isn’t about strict maintenance of those connections…like I said, it’s also about how they can be destroyed, and why.
But then I’d be giving away too much if I kept going, heh.
[Posted this last week at Walk in Silence and am reposting here to cover bases.]
Meanwhile here in San Francisco, the social media birdsite may either be transforming into something altogether different or it may be going down in flames, and either way it’s going in real time as its New Owner experiences…er…growing pains?
ANYWAY. If said birdsite crashes and burns epically, you can always find me at the following fine internet establishments:
I suppose I’ve been lucky over the last couple of years since the pandemic put the kibosh on a lot of social situations for me. I’m not really someone that needs to be surrounded by people or needs to insert myself in the middle of things…in fact I’m quite the opposite. I’ve always been used to balancing my social life with a lot of alone time, mainly because I spent most of the latter working on my creative endeavors. I’d rather be an observer than the center of attention.
That said, I have realized that I probably do need to reestablish some of that social connection now and again, especially as a writer trying to put my name out there. I do find it it kind of hard sometimes to get started on that, however…as a self-published writer I’m the only person to proactively say hey, read my stuff! but the idea of prodding some stranger’s arm and getting their attention feels so weird to me. I can definitely do it when it’s needed, but it’s the initial contact that shakes my nerves.
I’m pretty sure part of it is due to the fact that I’m just another person in a see of many that are trying to attract your attention and that I have just a few seconds to reel you in or else I’ve already lost you. I’ve always hated the idea behind that, the prove yourself to me in ten seconds or I’m moving on theory of salesmanship. And I hate it because when I rush, my work is shitty and you don’t see the best of me. I sound like an idiot. Give me more like a minute, and then I have a better chance. My style is more about nuance than surface attraction. My brain just doesn’t fathom trying to sell you my book in one sentence. It’s like trying to explain Tchaikovsky’s Pathetique by only mentioning the first four notes.
I’m thinking about all this while going through another wave of sending applications in for a new day job. I’ve realized I don’t have to have a fully remote job, I just want a more local one that doesn’t steal commute hours from me. And I actually wouldn’t mind working with a team again. I get along with pretty much anyone at work in one way or another, and if we don’t get along, I’m not bothered much by that. (There’s also the fact that once I do get to know you well, your name will most likely be Tuckerized somewhere in one of my novels at some point.)
At present I’m still at the interview level of things, but once one of these goes all the way through, then I’m sure everything will work out just fine. I’ll remember how to make personal and professional connections with people. And I’ll return to being a bit more social in my life again.