1. nhope
    Offline

    nhope Contributing Member Reviewer

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2008
    Messages:
    242
    Likes Received:
    61
    Location:
    NH Seacoast

    Does shallow writing = a shallow person?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by nhope, Sep 20, 2010.

    I can't get it back. I've been trying for six months now and it just doesn't seem to be happening.

    Backstory: Five years ago I started writing seriously and about 1-1/2 years later I sacrificed it to begin an on/off 3-year relationship and although now I realize he was a great "transitional" man, he wasn't my future. This ended (for the last time) early this year. The relationship was liberating, uninhibited, exposing me to myself and allowing me to cut through layers to uncover who was really in there, and I truly love this reinvented me.

    Since then I have been furiously trying to get back what I had before, rereading what I had written and seeing how much life and substance those characters have. I realize I'm not the same person I was when I wrote them and will most likely not get that back, but I don't understand why I can't seem to write anything agreeable to me now. It all seems so empty, so shallow.

    Have I become empty and shallow? Has the breakup put me on the defensive so much that I'm not even allowing a character to surface? I want this so badly that I'm sitting here crying because I don't understand what happened. I can write lists and viewpoints and emails and ideas and technical for work but I can't seem to write anything that has a heartbeat.

    I've tried to go back and read those writing books and writing inspiration books and with the exception of a few or a few sentences and quotes here and there, I seem to not know who this new me is from a writer's perspective, and how to work with her.


    Maybe I'm writing the wrong thing? Maybe I need to add more edge to my writing - a little murder, sex, insanity? Maybe I'm trying to write as the previous me would and the now me is fighting it?

    Any ideas?
     
  2. Horizon Noise
    Offline

    Horizon Noise Member

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2010
    Messages:
    87
    Likes Received:
    0
    Forget about what you wrote before, just write. Likelihood is you've simply forgotten how difficult it was. Writing anything of substance is something I find very difficult, always have and always will. I can plough through dialogue at 1000 words per hour but 200 words describing how someone feels can take me several days and literally hundreds of revisions.
     
  3. Chudz
    Offline

    Chudz Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2008
    Messages:
    394
    Likes Received:
    14
    Location:
    Suburb outside of Chicago
    Just my opinion, but if you have truly reinvented yourself, then going back to where you were before is a contradiction. Your outlook on life has changed, and therefore past accomplishments may pale in comparison to the new yardstick that you hold up for yourself.

    Or I may be wrong after all. Just a thought.
     
  4. Melzaar the Almighty
    Offline

    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2010
    Messages:
    1,792
    Likes Received:
    55
    Location:
    UK
    You just have a different outlook on life now, and while your old characters were deep for what you were then, you no longer connect with them. You can SEE the depth, but you need to write the kind of depth that you understand and connect with. Writing good characters is all about finding the spark that you understand in them, no matter what else is different in them, just your general outlook influences how you see people.

    If you're seeing life through a more edgy lens these days, then of course start evaluating all your characters through a sexual angle or whatever. If that's how you can initially connect with them and learn who they are, then that's how you should go about it. Even your characters like you used to write could be written again, just from another angle - once you find that angle you can get back in and reconstruct them from that view point, even if, essentially on the page when you look back at them, they appear little change. Mentality is so important.
     
  5. Manav
    Offline

    Manav Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2010
    Messages:
    839
    Likes Received:
    21
    Location:
    Imphal, India
    My first impression is that your problem has nothing to do with you becoming shallow and certainly not you somehow losing your ability to create 'characters with heartbeats'. You have done it in the past and so most certainly you can now. My question to you is: are you sure you are over your breakup? Often it can be that you think you are over someone completely and yet there is always a chance that somewhere within you it lingers on and most likely that is what is distracting you from writing.

    Your past and your present, everything that is your life, good or bad, is a treasure you should harness as a writer to create your chars and their worlds. You might lament your present situation now, but that same experience, when you are able to view it objectively at some point in future, will help add 'heartbeats' to your chars.

    Okay, forgive my rambling, I am going to stop now.
     
  6. Thanshin
    Offline

    Thanshin Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2010
    Messages:
    564
    Likes Received:
    13
    Location:
    Spain
    So, you're saying that you ended a relationship and grew up. Now this personal growth reflects on your characters and... You liked them more before? I'm sorry but I don't follow.

    The only thing that can kill your writing is having a happy pleasant life with no conflict whatsoever. In all other cases it's precisely the opposite, you get hurt, you write better; you suffer, you write better; you lose, you write better.

    I'm even tempted at times to call an old love to get some of the heart-gripping pain back, so I can write about it.
     
  7. Wreybies
    Offline

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    18,912
    Likes Received:
    10,104
    Location:
    Puerto Rico
    I think it just means you are trying to plant a garden without any seeds.

    The seed being a decent idea for a story coupled with the drive and verve to write it. You can dig up all the little holes you like, but without any bulbs or seeds or any gumption, then all you are doing is getting dirty.

    Get back to your basics. Ruminate. Daydream. Woolgather. Wait until something comes to you that feels like the start of something worth following.
     
  8. nhope
    Offline

    nhope Contributing Member Reviewer

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2008
    Messages:
    242
    Likes Received:
    61
    Location:
    NH Seacoast
    This is very true. I have forgotten how difficult it is. The instant gratification isn't there - it takes me about a month to get a good paragraph. Thanks for the reminder.

    No, you are right. This is what was dawning on me on my ride to work this morning. Like in life, you can't go back. I always tell my kids to leave your past behind you. My previous characters were nice and thoughtful and peaceful. They had problems but nothing heart-pounding. My new ones need to be bold, confident, not afraid to speak or confront conflict.

    This! Yes! Funny...I found a word in a P&W article today, "metacognition." Its a psychological term that means thinking about thinking. It's about being aware not of who you are in terms of overall identity, but who you are at this very moment. How serendipitous!I cannot expect to write like I did because I'm no longer who I was.

    Yes, I am definitely over him. I have to be. We still work together. It has taken me some time though and the "reinvention" helped. And thank you for thinking of it.

    lol...well, I wouldn't recommend that. I wouldn't phrase it as "growing up"; it's more like I was liberated from my insecurities and became more confident, more proud of myself.

    Yes! This I have been doing most of today. I've even started writing down sensible notes.

    I've decided I have enough stamina and hopefully the mental energy to create characters like those in the stories "The Wallpaper", "The Lottery", "Secret Window", "Where are you Going, Where have you Been?" This is the edge I want to write. I may start a short story with two, maybe three characters at most to see how it goes.

    Thank you all so much. This has been so helpful!
     
  9. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    regardless of 'who' or 'what' you are or have been, if you have it in you to be a good writer of fiction, you'll be able to write good fiction... period...

    don't waste time agonizing over all that other gluck... just sit yourself down and see what you can write!...

    if you can't come up with any ideas for stories, then fiction probably isn't your thing and you can try your hand at articles, essays, poetry, whatever... fiction may rear its head later, if it's in you and only lying dormant at the moment...
     

Share This Page