I have issues

Yet verily these issues lie on the lap of the gods. — Homer

uh. Maybe it was the Other Homer who said that.

I am heading late out of the starting gate for what promises to be a fascinating Creativity Workshop. Whether I make it around even the first lap remains to be seen, since I’m also competing in a totally non-related javelin throw elsewhere on the planet. (My sports analogies stink; I have a lot of non-related, time-sucking things going on now.)

Here is my first assignment on Issues and Interests:

My Issues

Plodding Plotting: I can’t figure out how to get my main character, Becca, to have that ‘aha’ revelation that leads to her change/growth in a credible, lively way.  And without being preachy.  I have two sub-plots, which They (whoever They is) say is too many for a first-timer.  One of my sub-plots, in the hands of a pro, should be able to flow into Becca’s space and help lead to her character evolution.  But I haven’t figured out how to do that.  I also have another sub-plot (my love story, and at this point, my fave) that might feel like an add-on until and unless I figure out how to mesh the story lines better.

Whatever, my plot lines are still boring and could use a massive infusion of creativity to hook a potential reader and keep him or her hooked.  I am stuck in the middle.

Not only stuck in the middle, but I’m having problems with tone as well.  Sometimes I try to be funny, sometimes serious.  Can I blend these tones into the same work?

Producing, Producing, Producing: Not.  I think Merrilee and Chris Baty are both right.  I need deadlines.  I wrote as much during November 2009 and National Novel Writing Month as I have in the five months since.  I am just not getting it done.  I could have called this section Focus just as accurately, perhaps more accurately, but I’m trying for some alliteration (which is another thing I believe They say is a turn-off).

Proving Myself Publishable: I sure could use some validation as a writer.  Twelve short stories out of this workshop?  And all I have to do is write them?  Awesome!  The road — at least my road — to a novel that’s remotely ready to submit for publication is long and littered with boulders and uprooted trees.  But short stories?  Maybe doable.  I did have one short story published last year, and it was a real rush.  So a goal of this workshop for me will include completing a set of (how many?) publishable short stories.

Pfftt…  Time: Where does it go?  ‘Nuff said.

My Interests

I would like these elements to shine (or if not shine, at least show up occasionally) in my writing:

  • Quirky but believable characters who grow in unexpected ways
  • Unexpected juxtapositions of different backgrounds and experiences
  • What-happens-next (?!?) plot
  • Social justice without a heavy hand
  • Simple yet lyrical language
  • Ironic conflict — I’m not sure what this is, but I think I’ll recognize it if it shows up.

Many thanks to Merrilee for developing and hosting what looks like an exciting trip together!  I’m looking forward to meeting my fellow travelers along the way.

15 comments to I have issues

  • I hear you on Proving Myself Publishable. I desperately hope out of 12 projects, one of them will be worthy. (I dare not think all 12 might be; I don’t think I could stand the excitement!) 🙂

    Was this question rhetorical: “Sometimes I try to be funny, sometimes serious. Can I blend these tones into the same work?”

    If so, nevermind. If not, of course you can. I did. Every one of my beta-readers told me they laughed and cried (appropriately) while reading Brevity.

  • Great list. I think I need to put more thought into mine after reading all of the others. From the looks of your list you will be able to set some solid goals.

  • Love this list. But I feel totally out of it…are you guys doing a free workshop or this a class? If it’s free, I want to join in! I think I need it.

  • Good issues there Natasha, but don’t forget interests! This workshop is also about playing with your creativity and branching out. Is there something you have always wanted to try, but never had the time or the courage to?

    • Natasha

      Well, writing fiction IS what I’ve always wanted to do, but never had the time to do… I am usually stuck in the here-and-now, so maybe something fantastic would be fun to play around with. hmmm…..

  • This is a great list. It seems like you know exactly what you need. I’m sure that’s the first step to getting what you need.

    You know what? I think instead of a critique group we need an idea group. What I’m missing is someone to bounce ideas off of.
    And by the sound of this:
    “I can’t figure out how to get my main character, Becca, to have that ‘aha’ revelation that leads to her change/growth in a credible, lively way.” You are too.

  • I think you have developed a good issues list and have a great start. I’m excited for you. I would like to add some of my personal ideas, issues, and goals as I “audit” this workshop with you. I’ll post them on my blog as I follow along.

  • Hi, Natasha! These issues and interests sound like a great foundation for the goals you’ll soon be writing. I’d like to read some social justice without a heavy hand — and found myself thinking, as I read, “Just because the injustice has a heavy hand, no reason the good guys should emulate that style.” 😉

  • Natasha

    Thanks, Meredith. Yes, this is where my MC Becca could use a good infusion of crazy/creative to get her mojo cranking and to make breaking the law (for example)reasonable, fun and absolutely the right thing to do.

  • Deadlines are definitely required for me, as well; but deadlines with meaning – like Nano or this workshop. Imposing deadlines on myself for no reason other than to try and finish something never works… I just change the deadline! lol

    And an idea group… that would be awesome!

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