Monday Muse: Challenge Yourself

Ciao! Come state? Bene!

Sorry… just practicing the Italian. I’ve been DuoLingo-ing it for a while now, but formulating sentences is a weakness as I don’t have anyone in my life who speaks Italian. I’m killer at translating, but the speaking/creating aspect is coming along slowly. If I’d chosen Spanish, I’d be fine, but I didn’t want to learn Spanish. Apparently, being forced to do it in elementary school left a really bad taste in my mouth because I’ve never wanted to learn Spanish. Hell, Italian is the first time I’ve wanted to learn a language people still speak. I took Latin for all my language requirements. If Old Norse had been an option, I’d have done that one, too. Or Old High German, or something.

Yeah… I’m weird. I’ve a fondness for the esoteric rather than the practical. Practical just isn’t interesting.

Moving on. Happy 4th to the Americans amongst us. My neighborhood turned into an explode-y mess last night. I’m not a huge fan of fireworks, alcohol, or fireworks AND alcohol. And parties are loud, social things that make me very uncomfortable. So the 4th has always been a holiday I’ve endured rather than enjoyed. (Why, you ask, do I pair books with booze if I don’t like booze? Well, I’ve found that other people DO like booze, so pairing everything with variations on my go-to beverages — whiskey sour and Shirley Temple — probably wouldn’t work.) Anyway, happy birtfmas to America… though I tend to think October 19th is more appropriate as the signing of the Declaration was pretty symbolic until the ceasefire and the actual winning of the war. But, then, I’m a weirdo who thinks too much about this stuff instead of going out and having fun.

Anyway. I suppose it’s time to get to the point. Which is this:

Challenge. Yourself.

Pretend that’s sparkling, spinning, flashing neon. Whatever you want. But, yes: challenge yourself.

(Before we move on: no one bring up the irony of my writing about challenging one’s self when I won’t go to parties because they make me uncomfortable. This is a different kind of challenge.)

I have two novels I’m working on right now. One I’m planning for NaNo in November, the other I’m saving for while I’m editing the NaNo project. I’m not actually writing something right now, unfortunately, because the project that was up after Mercutio — Fall the God in Tears — got a massive plot update, so now I need to let it sit in my psyche for a bit while the flavors marry (yes, like a pot of chili) and I can figure out the restructuring that’s now required to make this work. Like, seriously, I went from a neat ending to a huge twist and an entire second half that’s thematically very different from the first (it’s a quartet)… all because I wanted the bad guy from the first two books to f*ck everyone over. (I put a star there for the more language sensitive among us, but the f-word really was most appropriate there. ‘Mess everything up’ just wasn’t strong enough.)

Anyway… the two novels (NaNo and after NaNo) I’m developing now are unlike anything I’ve ever attempted to do in my life. I mean, they’ve got elements of my usual fare (fantasy, gods, female characters with very not-girly names, emotionally-stunted intellectuals, etc), but the stories themselves are very different. The NaNo project has far more romance than I usually do (though that’s saved by the Jane Eyre/Edward Rochester vibe Hedy and Joel have) and involved inventing a pseudo-scientific magic system based on alchemy except using ley line and physical energy as the basis of transmutation. The one after that… well, that’s an espionage story involving gods who can access the shared, cognitive realm of humanity (although I won’t be calling it the cognitive realm because it’s not really the same as Brandon Sanderson’s, and I don’t want to even pretend I’m in that man’s league) and who are at war with one another. Not only have I never written an espionage story, I have to figure out how to make one work where dead drops can happen inside a person’s mind and going undercover can literally mean becoming another person. (Wicked concept, right? And, get this, Loki’s the main character.)

So… what’s the point of all this?

I am having the time of my life learning how to write these stories. So much research, so much figuring stuff out, being frustrated, and unsure. So much shaking up the status quo of my usual writing. So much stretching, growing, changing, becoming something newer and, hopefully, better for the attempt. It is amazing to be in the deep end of writing once more, paddling furiously to stay afloat as I twist myself to become more than I was. (OK, that last one might have been too much. But you get what I’m saying.)

It’s an amazing feeling. It is the best feeling. And, when I’m staring at my manuscripts, it’ll be worth every single instant of hard work and agonizing frustration I’m going through now.

So… go out and challenge yourself. It’s worth it, I promise.


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