I will not kill off this one character out of spite. We’ll call him Mr. K. I will not violently and creatively tear him apart into hundreds of pieces for royally pissing me off. I will not dispose of this character through a gratuitously violent and artless scene that will only grant me the illusion of satisfaction. I will not blame this one character for the ultimate crime of halting me from writing story when I alone am responsible, especially when my struggle with this @#)$&@#$ taught me a lesson about writing fiction that I hope to not learn again… but probably will.
After finishing a re-write of an arc of ‘A Gathering at Ayeshastra,’ it was Mr. K who I thought to write next. Mr. K has some fantastic scenes later in this novel which I have already drafted a couple times. I decided to figure out what his early years looked like, because it seemed best to follow the chronology of the tale I am weaving.
But young Mr. K wasn’t having it. He wasn’t telling me anything about himself despite constant cajoling. I struggled for more than a month with him. I plugged him into different situations, wrote scenes for him based on the summary I had for him, and wrote completely new scenes. I even explored his region of Adijari in greater depth. In all of this there were sparks of good story, but just sparks. One time it seemed like I had something eye opening come to the surface, but even that gemstone wasn’t ready to sit comfortably with the other pieces and be cemented into something definite.
I thought many times just to skip this early Mr. K endeavor, but I was too stubborn. I continued to write, think, create…call it whatever you will, but his story that was to be a part of the larger ‘A Gathering at Ayeshastra’ novel would not flesh out. I persisted to write pages that contained sentences of true story until the dissatisfaction became too much to bear.
Yesterday I threw in the towel. I couldn’t continue to put so much of myself into this effort just for scraps, so yesterday I said ‘To hell with you young Mr. K.’ and started working on the next arc. Yesterday was a great day.
Although I wrote just four page, they were good solid pages, pages where I sank so easily and intensely into the story that I was living it. After a month of trying to beat some good sentences out of Mr K and failing, I felt like a writer again.
Discovering the difference between stubbornness and instinct when creating something can be tough nut to crack. I know how integral Mr. K is to this story, so why shouldn’t I discover his early life and introduce him to readers at the same time? Well, because good storytelling doesn’t have to follow a chronological order.
There is a scene past the middle of my published work ‘The Secret of the Zipacna Dragons.’ Where the main character Gradni reflects on his past. In this scene, we get some explanation behind why Gradni is the way he is. The thing is though, these details, these crucial details about his early life and his relationship with his father which shaped who he is- I didn’t know any of that when I started writing Gradni. He was already well defined before I even found out about his past.
I had an idea for sure, but I didn’t know exactly what his early life was like to craft his present in-novel one. I know that Mr. K’s young life is a good story that has relevance to the grander epic tale. Ultimately that’s all I know right now, but that is also what threw me off. That’s what triggered me to stubbornly say to myself “I HAVE TO WRITE THIS BEFORE WRITING ANTHING ELSE!’ What my instincts have been nudging me to understand from the beginning is that ‘Uh, yeah, it is important and it is a good story, it just isn’t the right time to explore it.’
Once I finally gave up and threw myself into the next arc, it arrived so clearly to me. Even though I have just written four pages, I know that this entire arc of 50-70 will manifest through me easier than the pieces of Mr. K’s early story.
Some good came out of this struggle. Those nuggets of information will forge into something down the road, but it is the lesson I hope that comes through most of all.
When creating, stubbornness and instincts are not the same thing. One is the mind misleading you, the other is the heart guiding you, and both are swimming in the same soup of irrationality.