A few days ago, I restarted The Hanging of James Adder for the third time. My first version of that book, and it will be a book someday, has about 35k words written. That’s about a third of what the length of the book will be. Over time, I’ve found that I need to write a first draft with no outline first to come to understand the story, and then sit down and write the proper version. It seems to be what works best for me.
But I can’t find my voice. This last week has been filled with me pondering my voice. I read what I write, at least in regards to ‘book’ work, and I don’t like it. Actually, that’s not true. It’s not a dislike that I feel, but a feeling of “I can do better.” It’s a good feeling to have, and it’s especially nice to experience that feeling and rewrite something that turns out to be better, but it doesn’t help with my voice. I don’t have my style quite figured out yet. I seem to lock down into this strict, formal mindset when it comes to working on my book. It’s serious time, no more playing with shallow characters and silly themes. It’s gotta be good. It’s gotta be taken seriously!
And I think that’s the problem. While I enjoy writing on serious subjects, with Flash Fiction I can do it in a nonchalant kind of way. It’s a quick peek over the fence into a darker world and then back again. Safe, harmless, easy. Book characters need to be lived with. The themes need to sustain. It’s a journey. And while it’s one I’m willing to take, it puts me into a different mindset.
I’ve gotta break through that wall somehow. I’ve gotta remind myself that I’m writing for me. Who gives a shit if it’s good? It can’t be perfect. Just tell the story as well as you can and move on accordingly.
I should drink some beer.