Friday, October 30, 2015

The Conflict of Conflict...

I'm relatively new to this novel-writing thing.
Granted, I've always loved writing, but to write a novel has always been something "real" writers do.
Calling myself a writer has always been a struggle.
I've been writing this novel for about three years now.
Really, purposefully, creating a story.
I like my characters very much.
I love them, actually.
They're lovable, interesting, fun...
and boring.
I loved them so much, I didn't want any harm to come to them.
That's a problem.
For the past couple of months, I've been stuck.
Stuck in the muck of "why isn't this working"?
I have a map of where my story will go, I like where it ends, but I was taking the long, comfortable route with potty stops and 5-star restaurants along the way.  We all like to travel in style, am I right?
First class all the way, baby!
So I remained stuck.
No one grew, everyone just moved along enjoying each others company.  

And then it struck me.

Novel writing is a lot like mothering. 
If I protect my children from everything that *might* harm them, their lives will be lived in a cocoon.  They won't try anything new because I'm afraid they might get hurt, or worse, get their precious feelings hurt.
That's no way to parent.
Kids grow through conflict.
Kids learn by doing.  
Kids learn through failure...and success.  
They learn who they can trust by putting themselves out there and getting burned.
They experience loss and learn to cope.
They drop into an unmarked pit and are forced to find a way to dig themselves out.
A hovering parent produces a stagnant kid.
A hovering writer produces a boring book.

So yesterday, I kissed all of my characters on the head and told them I loved them.
Then I dropped them into a deep, deep hole.
They all fell in.
Every single one of them.
Together, and separately.
Their fears are swirling around them and they're searching for a way out.
I have the luxury of knowing what's next for them...mostly.
I might leave a couple of them in the pit longer than others.
But as a mother, er...a writer, I know this is for their own good.
It hurts me to see them like this right now, 
But in a few chapters, I know they'll be better for it.
They'll suffer...
They'll heal...
and they'll grow...
And their story just got more interesting because conflict is inevitable.  We've all been there.  And a story, a life without conflict is colorless and barren.