I’ve been stuck on Debts of My Fathers for a couple of months now. It’s not the traditional “writer’s block” where I’m blocked on the writing itself. I’ve written plenty of other stuff. It’s also not that I’m unclear on what comes next. Certainly, I’ve jiggered the order of a few of the as-yet-unwritten events, but I’ve always known what was going to happen. So, to be clear, I know exactly what has to happen next.
I just don’t want to do it.
Very soon, I have to do something horrific to a character I like. I have to do my dead-level best to break her down to the core, and to do that, I must do something truly abhorrent – something I would never do, something I am realizing I cannot do.
But of course, it’s not me that’s doing it. And for that matter, the character I’m inflicting it on isn’t really suffering for it either. It’s all make-believe with one fictional character being mean to another equally fictional character. I’m just jotting this little lie down on paper.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t help much. In some ways, to make the reader care about these characters, the writer has to care just as much. So it sucks when something bad happens to one of them. It sucks even more because, at some level, I’m the one doing it. Remember that thing about fictional characters taking up slots in our monkey-sphere? Yeah… well right now Skippy the Wonder-Monkey is looking at me with accusing eyes. “You’re doing what? To my sister Charlene the Cheery-Chimp?”
So now I’ve got to go do that terrible thing to someone I like, and I don’t want to do it. The scars on that character will be permanent, and if she was real, she would never actually forgive me, not even after removing my internal organs with a rusty spork. But she’s not real, so I’m going to fire up the torture machine and drop her in. I might even have to decapitate her teddy bear first.
But if I ever find out I’m in some kind of Stranger Than Fiction world, I’m really going to lose it.