I’ve been having trouble attacking my novel. I am definitely not abiding by the principle that you should just sit yourself down at the computer for a prescribed amount of time and keep trying until something comes out on the page. I’m wrestling with some decisions on the story – about the direction of certain elements, and how to fill certain scenes, and what kind of story it should be in general. In some cases, I’m just wrestling with how to write dialogue, period.
So, instead of writing it, I’m mulling things over in the back of my mind while I go on about life and do other things, trusting that the answers will work themselves out in my brain. One conflict I am having is that I originally envisioned this piece as a short story, but it has evolved into something much more tangled and complex. I’m not sure if I’m okay with that. Do I let it be a novel like it wants? Or scratch the whole thing and squish it back down into a short story?
Part of the impetus for this conflict was a short film festival I went to this weekend, called Lunafest. It is a yearly, traveling showcase of some of the best short films “by, for and about women.” One valuable piece of advice I learned from doing The Artist’s Way book course some years ago, was that you should go out and absorb other people’s art on a regular basis. If you believe in art or creativity as important to life, you should try to do this as much as you can. New art is inspiring, whether you yourself are an artist, or even a banker. No matter what you do, you probably at least have a hobby or an interest where creativity is involved, and if you go see the expressions of others, you will see your own creativity get a boost from it. If you’re like me, sometimes you have to push yourself to get out and do these things. I saw an article about the film festival in the newspaper, and initially had to sort of talk myself into it. I thought, “Hey, that could be cool, but meh…it might also not be.” Wrong! It was extremely cool. But, you may fall into that trap too. Is the museum really going to be all that great? It’s just dusty old portraits right? Maybe, but there might be something amazing there – old and dusty, or not. It’s worth taking the chance. Art is all about new ideas, new ways of seeing things, so there is always a risk that it may not resonate…or may just plain not be good. But in this case, the films were very good. So good, in fact, that I got very excited about the whole idea of short-form storytelling, and became conflicted over the story I am trying to write, because it is ballooning into a novel, when a short story is what I initially really wanted it to be.
It is quite possible that this conflicted-ness is really my excuse to get out of doing something hard – like pushing through a bout of writer’s block. This is highly probable, actually. I have issues with stick-to-it-iveness at times.