Thursday, October 11, 2007

Okay, Writer, What are you Working On?

Last night I went to a friend's house for a dinner party. Over drinks, someone asked, "What are you working on right now? Have you been writing anything?" The question took me off-guard and my own lackadaisical reality reached out and slapped me in the face. I took a step back, my mind racing, and then?

I decided to fess up.

I had written a short story a few years back that people really liked. Shortly after that, I began writing more about my main character. This past September, during the second week when my kids had returned to school, I sat down every morning and started forming the writing into more defined chapters. I was completing about one rough draft chapter in two mornings of work. When I got to chapter six, I was debating about where the writing was going. Was the setting accurate? What age group was I trying to target? What have other writers done on the same subject? I decided that I was going to have to do some research and reading, so I stopped production.

More than knowing what my characters are about and feeling secure with the setting, the main problem I have with this particular story is that it's too advanced for a middle/juvenile level reader and it's too simple (or immature) to be classed in the young adult category. My quandary is that I have to lower the register or raise the register, and I can't say that I want to do either one. Why should I have to conform? And what helped me realize this was through reading some other works of fiction. Let me tell you, the content of books classed in young adult fiction that I read was a bit shocking. These books just seemed too "mature" for my taste, and for the standard I'm holding my characters to in my particular story.

This issue - the age level - has remained a problem because I was unable to resolve it when it presented itself, even though I finished reading the books I had checked out of the library - the books that I had so confidently felt would help me solve the problem to begin with. Since then, I haven't picked up where I left off on my story. And this is bad.

So, what did I tell my friends at the dinner party?

I told them the truth.

Unfortunately, as none of them are fiction/creative writers, they didn't have any advice to give. But, I know that what I'm facing right now in regard to this particular project, which I feel commonly happens to writers, is something I have to work through on my own, and I am confident that I will work through it eventually. I know this because focus and determination are two facets of what makes a successful and dedicated writer, and also, the nagging voice a writer hears over his or her shoulder that keeps repeating, "Hey, what about that story you were working on? You have to get it finished!"

What do I reply?

"Yes, you're right. I know I have to get working on it again, and I will. Don't worry."

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