Reading and Writing and Trust
When reading, I have a pretty consistent fallacy, especially the first time with a new author or a new series. I tend to assume the narrator is trustworthy.
Sometimes, if I’m reading critically (as opposed to lazily), I’ll catch on to my mistake pretty quickly if it’s indeed a mistake. Not all writers use unreliable narrators. Some narrators don’t even know they are unreliable, and figuring out they are is part of the story.*
Sometimes, I am too literal. I think this is how I enjoyed many allegorical fantasy for umpteen re-reads, but now I occasionally feel that the author was using a large cricket bat lined with very specific translations of various religious texts to get their point across.
Right now (well, this month) I’m trying to write a story. A snippet of the story has been in my head for a couple years now. Last year, the character’s name popped in my head. Sometime in the last year or so, another character in the same world (for lack of a more concrete term) wanted to be drawn. Just a simple portrait. When trying to write a quick 100 word drabble for a completely different part, a scene that is probably much later in time (but probably within a book’s distance) popped out involving the original character. So I signed up for Camp NaNoWriMo and have been randomly poking at it.
I haven’t been poking at it as hard as I should be, in my head. I mean, theoretically the rules are you write on that project daily. You set a goal and try to attain it. Just like NaNoWriMo in November. But, it’s a lot more flexible in that you set your own goal. And you can work on existing projects. I’ve really only sat down to write twice. Both times, I spun out over one thousand words. The first time, I think the words were better. The second time, well… I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that only one paragraph in that mess is really good. There are other bits that are useful. They set a scene. You get a bit of a better feel for how the characters react to an odd moment just before. But it’s pretty crappy writing. I could feel it when I wrote it.
Part of the problem, I suspect, is that I haven’t decided if my protagonist is a reliable narrator or not. Or if she’s an informed narrator. I do know she’s keeping secrets from at least one of the other characters we’ve met. And I suspect she’s keeping secrets with a character who just literally stepped out from behind a trashcan.
But at this point, I’m trying to stay out of my way and just write one word and then another and then another.
Because the advantage is, I’m finding I can write other snippets here and there of other things. A slip of erotica there, a personal blog or essay here, a commentary about something going on in the world or even sketch a scribble of a puppy or other thing in the paper world. Even if I don’t know where the story is going, and I’m almost certain chunks of it are horrible, it’s helping me be creative.
I just need to keep out of my own way.
*I feel this way about the Mockingjay books. I don’t think Katniss realizes she’s unlike many others in her life/broken/reacting in unusual ways until somewhere around the third book. And even then, I don’t think she completely understands why everyone else saw it in her and used it to their advantage, not really. It made it very hard to get through the first book for me, because I pretty much wanted to shake her hard every 5 pages or less. It doesn’t make her less strong in her own way, but it does mean she’s got enormous blind spots, and sometimes the reader might not catch things either unless they are reading closely.