Today started well with a solid writing session. It quickly fell apart through a sequence of stupid, petty occurrences that, individually, usually wouldn’t have mattered, but layered together, especially since I’m viewing the world through the prism of a very dark character right now, added up to something bigger and uglier than the sum of its parts. I wound up feeling under-appreciated, bitter, annoyed at the ignorant, and ready to take the next shuttle to Mars.
The question becomes, do I allow this dark character to isolate me while I view the world through his eyes and soul, or I do I push him away at intervals to regain equilibrium? One should search for balance, but there are some instances where balance has a negative effect on the work. So do I let the work have a negative effect on me in order to get deeply enough into it to do this project justice? If that is the case, I need to limit my contact with the outside world during the most intense times with this project — and we’re in early chapters of the book, so it will only get more intense. At the same time, I can’t let the book — and this particular character — swallow me up. Nor do I have the right to take out whatever the work is dredging up on those around me. Since I’ve got responsibilities outside myself, I can’t completely cut myself off, and I’m not sure if that’s fortunate or unfortunate. At the same time, I can’t afford to do less than my best for the book simply because it’s covering difficult emotional ground.
In the best of all possible worlds, since I’m working out of town over the next three weekends, I’d use that time to delve fully into my character’s darkness and then keep him at arm’s — and heart’s — length during the week. However, at the end of the month I’m teaching — not one, but two workshops AND a live chat to which there’s bound to be negative response because I”m not holding back on my contempt for content mills.
And now, of course, is the period of time when this particular, demanding, complex, fascinating, dark character comes riding in on the Muse, with the Muse being in harpy form.
“Balance” won’t work here, but I’m not yet sure how to juggle these conflicting demands. Actors often face this when preparing for a role, and usually, in the past when I’ve had to deal with this in writing, I’ve been able to block off the time to deal with the project and remove myself from the daily demands. I’m hoping to do that for at least a few days.
And I’ll probably contact some of “my” actors, who’ve been in this dilemma, and see where they’ve sought balance and where they’ve made the decision to go over the cliff for the duration, climbing back out when it’s done.