Struggling with the Work In Progress

Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.   – E.L. Doctorow

The first time I read Doctorow’s quote, I laughed out loud, in part at its absurdity and in part because it seems so true. (I say “seems” because schizophrenia is a very real psychotic disorder and nothing to take lightly.) Looking up the exact wording of that quote, I came also across this interesting article that caused me to look into something called schizotopy (I don’t have any real symptoms of that, either).

The point is I’m not the first – nor will I be the last – writer whose brain feels as though it’s inhabited by fictional characters of her creation.

My current Work In Progress is taking longer to complete than I want it to. I think there are a couple of reasons for this, including my fear of the Sophomore Slump (even though I know most writers experience this – I mean, Chamber of Secrets is by far my least favorite Harry Potter novel) and simultaneously taking notes of what I want to change about my first novel.

By the by, I haven’t done my revisions on Will the Real Prince Charming Please Stand Up? yet, mainly because I’ve been able to identify more areas that need clarification and/or expansion by writing this second novel. Not to worry, though; as soon as I get this first draft hammered out, I will have a clearer idea of how to tackle WTRPCPSU.

Another reason I’ve kind of been crawling as I work on this WIP is that the voice is so different from that in my first novel. Even though my new main character made an appearance in WTRPCPSU, she was still a supporting character. I got to show her angstiness a bit, but as she wasn’t the main character, I didn’t need to delve into her issues all that much. Instead, I could focus on WTRPCPSU’s main character, which was fairly easy for me because she’s just, well, kind of adorably clueless.

When the concept for my WIP popped into my head, though, I was only halfway through WTRPCPSU and realized I wouldn’t be done with those characters or that world at the end of the book. I knew I didn’t want to continue with the same girl (I mean, once you get your Happily Ever After, what can you possibly complain about?), so I decided to continue on my angsty character.

Here’s what I’ve discovered: Adorably clueless is easy to write when you’re 20-something years removed from that age; jaded and angsty is far more difficult.

I listened to a lot of the Veronicas, Taylor Swift, and Miranda Cosgrove to get me through WTRPCPSU.  I’m relying on a lot of Hey Monday, Avril Lavigne, and Paramore to see me through this one.

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