By this, I am not talking about terrible first drafts…though there are certainly scenes I have written over the last year that have been that bad! What I mean is a scene like the one I finished writing last night, which was unpleasant for the characters and lacked any shard of a happy ending. I’m only 20k in, so it’s not like the story itself will end badly, or that my characters are as doomed as they believe, but it was not a joyous moment.
I finished writing that scene and had reached a good amount of words for the day, leaving me with the decision of continuing on through my remaining writing time, or calling it good and doing something else. I knew I should keep going, because getting myself into a writing flow isn’t easy, but something about starting the next scene just made me feel really uncomfortable. I didn’t figure out why until after I woke up this morning and remembered where I left off.
Somehow, I was so tuned into my characters while I was writing the really sad scene that I didn’t want to continue on to what happened next. Even though I knew it would get better, I just felt like I needed to escape after the badness I had just written. I’m not sure I’ve ever gotten that invested in my characters’ emotional states before.
On the one hand, that’s probably really sad, because this is my third book. On the other hand, though, realizing that I felt the need to stop writing because my last scene was just too much for me was actually kind of wonderful. This is the first world I’ve built from scratch, and it’s been in my head for almost half my life now. I have a feeling that the new relationship I’m exploring in this book, which wasn’t even a remote possibility before it struck me during this draft, is much more compelling to me than it reads outside of my head, but it’s still really getting to me.
It’s important to me to appreciate the upsides of writing as much as possible, to keep in mind why I’m doing this. So this is a new one for me: feeling upset because you’ve just upset your characters is an amazing part of the writing experience, even if it sucks at the time.