I love research papers.
Love them. Love them. Love them.
No I am not crazy. (All right maybe a little crazy). Nor am I high on any sort of hallucinogenic drug. I am not even a measure of sick.
I just like research papers.
Why, R.J.? Why?! Research papers are of the devil! They have the things with the correct formatting and the APA/MLA, the citations, the rules, and the RED PEN! OH NOEZ! NOT THE RED PEN! *die*
Sorry dude, research papers are awesome. I get to sit on my happy little beehind, perk up the computer and tell the internet to go, go, go. GO FIND ME INFORMATION INTERNETS! *clickzoom*
The most important thing about research papers is the formula that goes with them. The thesis statement is always first. (Well, not always. If you’re writing a psychology paper you’d better have that damned abstract or face the wrath of your professor). Without the thesis statement you are nothing, your paper is nothing. No thesis statement means your paper just sits there, a conflagration of poo with no direction, just squidgy mush. Yup. Squidgy mush. A thesis statement is the core of the paper. It is the question that you spend hours upon hours ruminating on and finding facts to support the answer you’ve come up with in your coffee-addled, sleep-deprived brain.
I learned very early on that my brain was wired for research papers. Where my teachers wanted two or three (maybe five if I was lucky) pages on any paper, I gave them seven or ten. Once I got going I couldn’t stop myself. I soaked up everything I learned and was then able to translate it onto paper with the greatest of ease. All I needed to get started was a research topic, a notebook, pen, and a plethora of relating material. Bullet notes
were are my friend.
Start with a subject
- A list of bullet notes followed until I had exhausted the material
- sub topics that were relevant to what I thought the audience needed to know
- dates were always good, teachers like dates
- quotes that could be useful if I needed some extra space filled
- New subject, new bullet note, new page for the paper
Putting it all together was easy. Somewhere down the line in my note taking, I found myself knowing how I was going to write the paper. Everything on the page in front of me was just extra material I could, or could not use depending on what went into the final product.
Research papers are great. Research papers are easy once you get going.
Books are f*$king hard.
Somewhere down the line I must have realised that they were hard. I had to have known this otherwise part one of this post would not exist, right?
I had no freaking idea.
Nearly a year. A whole year I’ve been sitting here with this story trying to turn it every which way in my head.
Maybe it should be like this.
No, that’s dumb. It should go like this!
What are you, high? That’s stupid.
Again and again and again. Someone tell me how to stop the voices in my head, the conversation is getting old.
At one point I thought about giving it up. Just saying f*$k it, short stories are easier anyway. They really are. Much less character development and explanation. It all sort of happens in a short story, not so much planning required. Flash fictions are fun, too. I can make a hobby out of doing the terribleminds flash fictions every week. Why not? No work required.
Except that I haven’t done one in two weeks. And my would-be novel won’t leave me alone. And there’s a short story that just so happens to be part of the novel’s universe sitting there, waiting to become a novel in its own right. Oh, and one of my flash fictions is a serious contender for the first chapter in my would-be novel.
Crap in a hat.
I tried to get it to leave me alone, I really did. I had a few Facebook posts about “taking a break” and “how much good a break would do me”. I even had a bit of drama at work that proved a minor distraction from the maelstrom in my head. A maelstrom in which the Valley Girl bitch was back, laughing at my pain in that grating, high pitched laughter befitting her kind. Self doubt, self hatred, it was all there. Never had that when I was writing research papers.
There’s too much pressure in being a writer. So many rules! So many genres each with their own specifications with can and can not do.
What if no one likes it?
The story doesn’t make any sense!
You’re trying to do what with what?
Oh God, what if I really am no good at this?
I tried to drown it with Bram Stoker. Shut out the stupid with Dracula.
I don’t know when it happened, couldn’t pin it down if I wanted too. Pushed to the limit in my own mind, ready to give up on the whole adventure, I picked up a new notebook and started to write. I copied down everything I had written over the three notebooks littered with Blood on the Quarter, transcribed A London Particular, then set it down again.
Maybe I remembered college, hell it was on my mind, or maybe my subconscious decided to dredge up bits of what I’d read from one of Chuck Wendig’s “How To Be A Better Writer” books, or maybe the same magic that happened with Carousel happened here.
I started to plot.
Stories don’t necessarily need an outline. Some people are good; they can spit out a story willy nilly, go back through to tweak and edit and have pure gold. I am not one of those people. I tried to be. Carousel was one of those stories that I thought made perfect sense after I first wrote it down (it didn’t). Old Ipswich Road was another one that I was sure would make it into bestseller territory as it was.
Some events are fortuitous even if they don’t seem that way at the time.
Putting it away then coming back a few years later made all the difference for Carousel. Maybe if I allow myself to be the college student AND the writer, it’ll make all the difference for Blood on the Quarter, too.