Saturday, April 06, 2013

Writing in the darkness

My current project is steeped in darkness.  Yes, I've paid my electric bill.  No, this project is about inner darkness and outer darkness and monsters real and imagined.  Working on it is a process of peeling away layers to find the story, and then artfully layering images back over it in a purposeful manner.

Spring Break arrived, which meant I could immerse myself in this piece, which is what has to happen if I stand any chance of making it work.  To make this character work, I have to think like her, feel like her while I'm writing her.  When I don't fully immerse myself, the writing just lays there on the page, full of events and logistics, with no soul whatsoever.

But immersing yourself in darkness has its pitfalls.  It stirs up your own inner demons.  It can cloak your days in a bleak film and affect the way you view your world.

Apparently, my brain is protecting me from too much immersion in darkness, because, after a flurry of inspiration that rebooted this piece for me, I've proceeded to get stuck.  Again.  So now I'm attempting the yeoman labor of trying to muscle my way through this stuck spot.  The problem is, when a piece is this driven by the inner world of the character, muscling through doesn't seem to be enough.  The only time the piece truly moves forward is when it's injected with that particular spark of energy that can't be found by muscling.

I will have to find a way to sit down and dialogue with my brain, a way to reassure my psyche that I will watch out for it during this process and I won't let this character and her inner demons overwhelm me.  The thing is, I'm not sure how to do that.

Have you written a character that took you to dark places?  How did you manage to let go of your own fear or anxiety enough to do the work?  Did you ever find yourself stuck just out of self-preservation?

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