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Your lifestyle, your quirk
I just realized I haven’t written anything for myself, just because I felt like it, for a very long time.
I’ve paid the bills via writing assignments of one type or another, be they articles like this or novels ghostwritten for various clients. I’ve found ghostwriting to be the easiest thing to slip into; maybe it’s because everything is set – I have an outline, the client has signed off on it, and my only job is to write the story. I can scratch out a ghost assignment fairly quickly, without a lot of false starts.
Not so with this little gem.
The problem with writing for yourself is that you’re writing for yourself. I don’t have a client to sign off on my outline and say, “Wow, great job, get writing!” I have to sit here and look at it and decide if this is the story I want to write. Is it the best tale it can be?
I wrote a few pages. Then deleted them. Then wrote more. Deleted those, too.
I called up a friend and told her the basic gist of the storyline. “It sounds cute!” she said. “What’s the problem?”
“I don’t know!”
I walked around the block a few times. I went to my favorite little café, ordered a lemonade, and sat outside. I doodled in the margins of my outline.
The character names felt wrong. My quiet main character thought her boisterous best pal should have her name – the boisterous best pal agreed. The male lead didn’t like his moniker at all and refused to develop anything resembling a personality until I changed it around.
I have, in the past, been able to change out character names, or use temporary names until the right one showed up. Not in this story. No, these characters wanted their names to represent them from the start.
The lead wasn’t sure about her job situation, either. I started writing a couple of scenes just to see what felt most natural, and ended up giving her a secondary component at work. It’s all small stuff – little details, really – but that’s what makes a story tick. Apparently I need that sort of information when I’m working on my own stories.
Why the big difference? I don’t honestly know. Possibly it’s because I’m able to look at ghostwriting as work. A ghostwriting project is an assignment; I’m being paid for it whether the book does well or not. I also tend to be using someone else’s plans and ideas, and maybe that makes it a little easier to detach myself from the bits and pieces that might not otherwise matter, but will certainly drive me crazy.
I won’t be posting an update each week – “Wrote more” will get boring after awhile, so I’ll be bringing you updates about the state of e-publishing, how self-publishing works for other writers, and other fun stuff like that.