Friday, June 30, 2006

Taking the Long Way Around


This week I went back to my mariachi story with the critiques from my agent. I had been avoiding it to be honest with you. Reading my work gives me the willies but I force myself to do it and eventually I'm pulled back into the story. But it's worse when you have someone's constructive, albiet critical opinion replaying in your head. (I wonder if that's what it is like if you're a porn star and have to watch your work?)

Anyway, my writing process is not the most efficient. No matter how much character work I do or outlining, it takes a draft or three to figure out what is holding me back from the core of the story. In the case of the mariachi story, I had this boyfriend character who appeared in the first three chapters and was then never heard from again. I should've known because he always bugged me. Was he too much like Ruben Lopez from Hot Tamara? If he was going to work, I had to figure out a way to bring him back into later chapters but then that would slow the story down and-

Finally, I did away with him. And that one simple act led me down the secret staircase into the marrow of my characters. I love and hate it when this happens. I love it because it makes my job easier; hate it because I have a tendency to walk around the house like a ghost not hearing my husband ask me what I want for dinner.

I'm beginning to think that I take the long way around into my stories because I fear losing myself to the characters and the story. I know that sounds very arty-farty. But with every single project I always start one way - for example with In Between Men, I had Isa's ex suing her for custody and that draft was a real downer! But somewhere in the journey, I find the secret door in the floor that takes me somewhere entirely different.

So I'm about to go back in and see where I end up. This blog is my of delaying the inevitable. Sigh. Don't you hate being honest with yourself? Well, I'll try my best not to post this and then go to the Food Network to look up recipes.

Mary

4 comments:

jkmahal said...

I totally understand the fear of losing yourself in your characters. I think that's why I choose to write subjects that are so far removed from my life -- so I won't get completely lost.

Good luck with writing the mariachi story -- and if you need someone to come in there and pull you out with a GPS tracker, send up a flare. There'll be dinner and conversation waiting.

:)
Jen

Mary Castillo said...

The thing is that our inner truth - fears, joy, you name it - always come back to bite us in the butt. I'm writing about mariachi's - something I knew very little about - with a family that is completely different from mine. And yet, the things I've faced in the past or I'm facing now have found me. So as a writer, the only way I can get away is if I stopped writing.

But then I'd probably get really fat and Richard Simmons would have to come to my house and we wouldn't want that.

Camy Tang said...

Reading my work gives me the willies but I force myself to do it and eventually I'm pulled back into the story. But it's worse when you have someone's constructive, albiet critical opinion replaying in your head.

I'm totally like this, too. I keep telling myself just to grow a thicker hide, but I'm not listening to myself, dagnabbit!

Camy

Bethany said...

I'm there with you girl. Totally.

It's when my son asks me what is wrong that I realize I've been trapped in an alternate reality longer than necessary. And then, we find the real truth about ourselves sometimes. And I guess that can get scary.

Oh well. At least we have a way to find that inner truth. It could be much worse.

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