It’s been one week since Out Where the Buses Don’t Run came online. While I’ve posted several blogs about writing and other resources, I haven’t talked about the writing project I’m currently undertaking. Part of my mission in running and updating this blog is to provide a running commentary on my own writing process. I’ll take a few moments to fill you in on what’s been on my writing plate of late.
I”m working on a novel-length deconstruction of the superhero myth, in which our hero comes to some painful realizations that he’s not so super after all. Imagine, if you will, if a superhero just can’t balance the demands of saving the world while keeping his home in order. He’s the greatest superhero to the rest of the world, but to his ex-wife, he’s a failure.
It’s a first-person narrative, narrated obviously by our hero. Our hero might be the greatest superhero living, but he’s also manic. Runs in his family. Inevitably, he falls from grace, and as he picks up the pieces of his life, he questions whether he was ever meant to be a superhero. As a new threat from an old enemy emerges, our hero must make a choice: get his shit together, or walk away.
The idea of this project germinated about 18 months ago, from a random conversation my wife and I were having about the demands of working in a corporate setting. She referred to one colleague as having a “Superman” complex, to which I replied that what her office needed was a dose of Batman. A stupid, throwaway comment…that suddenly sparked a flurry of ideas. What if superheroes did work in a corporate setting?
Trust me, this makes sense. And yet I’m feeling a lot of insecurity about pulling this one off. You see, I’m aspiring for more than just genre fiction here. My influences are writers such as Kurt Vonnegut and Margaret Atwood and Jose Saramago, writers who were able to blend literary and genre. I’m at the risk of sounding elitist here, but while I celebrate the success genre writers do experience – and I count several genre writers as very good friends – I really don’t want to be pigeonholed as such. So how I’m going to pull that off depends on how I’m able to balance the complexity of my story, and ward off my insecurities.
But aren’t all writers insecure? Insecure, doubt, whatever you want to call it, all writers are plagued with insecurity. What if this isn’t good enough? What if no one will read this? What if this’ll never be published? What if I end up like John Kennedy Toole?
Insecurity’s a bitch. It makes me doubt that what I’m doing is worth doing. It makes me question whether I should be spending what little time I can squeeze off writing on something else. Like more time with my wife and my daughter. I’m worried I’m not spending enough time writing, or even outlining. I’m spending too much time blogging lately.
I’ve been too depressed to write. No, that’s not true. I’m letting my depression prevent me from writing. Time to get over it, pal. Time to embrace your destiny.
Wow, that sounded obnoxious. Whatever, Obi-Wan. Just shut up and write it, already. You’ll figure the rest out later, insecurities be damned!
Alright, so here’s the battle plan: I’ve embraced the art of outlining. A necessary evil, I call it. I’m more of a “let’s wing it” type; I would have made a great jazz musician, improving with Miles and ‘Trane back in the day. But improv doesn’t work in the literary world; you can’t just “wing it” and hope for a masterpiece. I’m currently using K.M. Weiland’s Outlining Your Novel to help me map out my manuscript. By the way, her website’s a great resource, and her podcast is pretty cool as well. Additionally, I caved in and dropped $40 on Scrivener to help me organize themes, plots, characters, chapters, etc. I love the Corkboard feature. Lastly, I’ve been fortunate to become a part of a local writer’s support group, one that especially welcomes genre writers. They seem to understand my ambition, and have been extremely supportive, not just to me, but to new members and existing ones as well.
So I’ve got the tools I need to succeed. All I need to do is fight back the insecurities and channel them onto paper.
I can do this, dammit.
Thanks to the Insecure Writer’s Support Group for the inspiration for this blog post.