Every first Wednesday of the month, members of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group share worries, insecurities, triumphs, hopes, and fears.
For some months now, I struggled to find any inspiration and momentum for any of my WIPs and editing projects, but it just wasn’t very easy in coming. Every so often, I’m blocked from moving forward on a story I really want to write and even planned in detail beforehand. While sometimes we have no choice but to write something or finish a project when our heart isn’t fully in it, I’m a big believer in not forcing words when they just don’t want to come. Taking a break often guarantees we’ll be overflowing with creativity and excitement when we return.
One of the YouTubers I follow is Maya Goode, a fellow writer and lover of classic literature. I included a video from her other channel on my October post about writing potentially controversial content. During November, she had several videos talking about how she fell out of love with her NaNo project and was more strongly pulled back towards another project. Ultimately, she decided to stop working on her NaNo book and return to editing this other project. Though she didn’t win by the official rules, she learnt a lot about herself, and was a lot happier after switching gears.
As I’ve said before, I fell out of love with my fourth Russian historical on the eve of NaNo, and was very disappointed I didn’t get as much work done on it as I’d hoped for. I haven’t touched it since December, and still don’t feel moved back towards it. Now I realize I should’ve struck while the iron was hot, and started it during the summer, when I was awash in excitement and inspiration for it. I shouldn’t have felt beholden to saving it for NaNo, just because I wanted to start something new instead of adding to a WIP.
I’ve always done my best work when I’m fully in love with a project, not when I feel pressured or obligated to work on something. My attentions have now turned to my hiatused WIP The Strongest Branches of Uprooted Trees. Just like Maya talks about in her videos, I feel so excited when I think about this book, and I’ve fallen in love with the characters and storylines all over again.
I’m going through and cleaning up the existing material, starting to flesh out the passages which originally were intended as wraparound summaries instead of real-time narratives, adding chapter and part titles, doing some research into certain topics, and copying and pasting in the flash fiction stories I wrote about some of these characters. Another C&P is Kálmán Runs Away, which won a 2012 short story contest at YA Stands (now remodeled as Publishing Hub).
I’m also excited to finish this book because it has some non-linear narratives. I’ve done flashbacks before, but never entire flashback chapters. I got the idea from Leon Uris’s Exodus, where the early chapters about the Ben Canaan brothers, Karen, and Dov aren’t just long flashbacks, but actual, real-time parts of the narrative. The majority of Part II will be flashback chapters, as well as bits of Part III. Not only is it a great way to replace unrealistically long, uninterrupted monologues, but it also provides additional character development.
And as a Magyarphile of almost 21 years, I’m on Cloud Nine learning new things about Budapest, Hungarian cuisine, and Hungarian names! During my research, I finally found a nickname for Klaudia I like, Udika. It’s not as common as Klau, Dia, or Klaudi, but I like the sound more.
I recently signed up at the USC Shoah Foundation’s Visual History Archive Online, loaded with long, detailed video testimonies from Shoah survivors, rescuers, liberators, and survivors of the Armenian Genocide, Nanjing Massacre, and Rwandan Genocide. Not only is this an invaluable resource for my historical research, but I’ve also watched testimonies from some of the survivors whose Shoah memoirs line my shelves. Unfortunately, all the testimonies from Abony and Kecskemét survivors are only available offline. I’ll have to include that new information in the next draft, after I’m able to take a road trip to an access site.
I also discovered The Yad Vashem Encyclopedia of the Ghettos During the Holocaust, a 2-volume set which runs about $150 to buy, $67 to rent (and at my university’s library!), and the first two of eight planned volumes of Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos, 1933–1945 (each volume $295). I hope I can someday find these invaluable resources discounted. That’s how I scored World War II Chronicle and The Holocaust Chronicle for only about $20 each.
Have you ever lost your writing mojo and couldn’t figure out why? What do you prefer, writing what you love or finishing what you’ve already started first? Do you have any go-to reference volumes or databases for writing research?