Sunday, March 13, 2011

Arguing with Myself

by Sarah Ballance

Ah, writer's block. Writers loathe it, but a few venture to joke about it now and then. Sometimes we even get feisty and blame the muse (as if that never backfires … accusations don't exactly foster cooperation, at least not within a typing radius of my keyboard). I've battled the beast with the best of them—sometimes I even win—but it was only after a recent bought of wordlessness that I realized who the true culprit is in my little word-o-sphere: It's me. I am the problem.

Let's back up, shall we?

Two characters in my WIP were involved in a life-and-death situation—one to be considered "serious" by any standard … any standard, it seems, but mine. I tried for DAYS to write the scene with my characters grim-faced. As it turned out, my attempts were the ONLY thing by which they were left unamused. Those of you who have so much as passed me in the hall know I seldom do anything straight-faced, but c'mon, ya'll. There's a dead guy on the floor and my hero just took a bullet. It's not exactly an appropriate to crack jokes, is it? Turns out the characters beg to differ. Or, in theory they begged. In reality they just planted their feet and stared at me until I backed down.

So … *sigh* … it took a week of convincing, but I finally let them have the scene. Now my hero is coping with his angst with dry humor—a bit on the dark side at times—and the break in the tension gives my reluctant heroine the confidence in him I need for the story to move forward. Considering their recent acquaintance began with him holding her at gunpoint, it wasn't an easy task. 'Twas not the kind of greeting most folks will quickly forgive and forget, but a little bit of wit—not to mention a steamy past—can move mountains (or at least form words).

Happy ending? Not so fast. At this point all would seem well if not for the blatant fact that all this bickering was actually me arguing with … well, me. I know a well-dimensioned character tends to take over and make his or her own way, but my characters actually ganged up and fashioned a stand-off. Against me. Only I am them, or they are me, or … GAH. Whatever you want to call it, I'm stuck fielding complaints from my inner self (selves?) and it leaves me in a kind of predicament.

I'm arguing with myself … and I'm not even sure who won.

Sarah lives suspiciously near the setting of her latest book, RUN TO YOU, with her husband and their six homeschooled children, all of whom are perfectly adorable when they're asleep. She writes fiction in order to surround herself with people who will actually listen to her, but clearly the plan is not without flaws. As for why she pens romantic suspense, you'll just have to trust it has nothing to do with a deep-seeded desire to kill anyone. Really.


JM said...

I believe that if you get writers block (if there is such a thing)it's because something you've just written, or are debating writing, isn't right. It's your subconscious telling you to hold on a minute, because something just isn't flowing.
Great post.

Sarah Ballance said...

I've found what you're saying, JM, to be entirely true - maddeningly so, at times, LOL. Very insightful on your part! Thanks for commenting. ;c)

Anonymous said...

This is hilarious! If you've ever written ANYTHING and, after reading back through it, gone, "Um...wait, what the HELL are you all doing to my story?" then you've seen this scenario in action. Hopefully with satisfying results, but as one writer friend of mine will (cussing and kicking the whole time) inform you, sometimes not.
Glad this one worked out for you, Sarah!


J.S. Wayne

Sarah Ballance said...

LOL @ JS! Yep, it's something else when you no longer recognize your story-as-originally-intended. ;c) You sure can't dub this job of ours boring, can you? Thanks for commenting. *grin*