I have been working for the past ten years on 3 stories. One, Educating Autumn, I already self published. The other two I am at the final editing stages of. And I think this is the hardest part.
One of the stories in particular is giving me a hard time. It’s working title is Rev 21. The story takes place during WW III. It is told in first person by the alternating characters of Birdy and Sharon. Birdy has joined a band called Rev 21. She and the band sing politically charged songs and join in political events. She also falls in love with two of her band mates. The love triangle is the primary focus of her story. Sharon is involved in an organization called the Nations of Allied Scientist for Peace (NASP). They are working on a plot that will end the war and save the world from complete environmental destruction. The problem is that it will also end the lives of all but 1000 people on earth. Sharon and the other adult members of NASP will not be spared. But Sharon must decide if her son will be put in an underground vault for the rest of his life and live or if he will die with her (and they will both be reunited with his father who died as a soldier).
I had thought I was pretty close to finished with this. I thought it was grown and had been nurtured all I could manage. I thought that with a little polish and a punctuation and grammar edit that it would be good to go.
I haven’t looked at it in a month. Today, I read the first 10 pages. And I see at least another month of rewriting in my future. Sigh.
There are a few main problems I am having with this story. The first is that I rarely write in first person. Writing in first person is much harder for me than writing in third. Since I usually write romance novels I am used to alternating third person perspectives between the Hero and Heroine.
Secondly, I am too close to my story. When I first started writing I put a lot of who I was into the story. I didn’t always care about what was best for the story. I used writing as a kind of therapy.
As my writing has matured I have been able to take a step back from my art. I still write much of me into my work. But I can also see it more honestly than I once could. I am more distanced from it. The characters are more blurry in my mind and the needs of the story come before my personal desires. I have noticed that writing too personally is common in new writers. One of my friends does it and it makes her stories unbelievable, preachy, and personal to the point where someone who didn’t know her life couldn’t really get the story. My writing used to be like that. I imagined myself as the Heroine. In every scene I saw through her eyes what was happening. Felt her pain and sorrow. The problem was that it was my pain and not the characters in the end. I couldn’t write anyone who wasn’t me. I couldn’t write a character who saw the world differently than I did. I couldn’t throw them in necessary story situations because it was too hard for me to go there.
Rev 21 is not like anything I have written before. I write romances. Rev 21 has romantic elements but in the end it is a futuristic end of world story and a tragedy.
The final thing that makes it so hard to write is that it is my most creative work. I have written other stories before and since. But there is something special about it. Something personal. Something I feel makes it stand out as the greatest book I have ever written in my own eyes. And there is a lot of pressure in that. It takes place before Educating Autumn and ties into it but I finished Educating Autumn first. I wanted the experience under my belt before I tried to write another draft of Rev 21. I need it to be the best I can make it. And that is a very tall order.
It is good. But it will take another month or so of editing for it to be the best I can make it with my current writing experience.
Have any of you other writers had similar problems or experiences?