I have an old neck injury that sometimes causes problems. What with RL stress this year, it's been flaring up with a vengeance. The past few weeks I've had pinched-nerve headaches every day. (Not always all day, but for several hours out of every day and some days the pain never stopped.) This morning it got really bad - nausea, tingling on the left side of my face, sparkles in my vision - it wasn't fun. Fortunately, because I know more or less where the problem is, I was able to do some careful stretching and take some aspirin (because I have heavier stuff, but it knocks me on my ass) and eventually get to a point where I could move around without feeling like I would puke all over everything.
Now, feeling a little wobbly and exhausted, I'm trying to catch up on All The Things.
This week I've been working on a super-secret project. AKA: Something written under a different pen name. There are reasons. The primary one being a higher percentage of scenes in which the characters get naked than in what I've written before.
I don't censor myself much so the stories I write which have sex (or violence or swearing or trolls or housecats, etc) can be no-holds barred. This doesn't mean that every novel I write will have rampant sex (or violence or swearing or trolls or housecats, etc). I write what's necessary for the story. Sometimes that's a character winding up partially paralyzed. Sometimes it's a pair of characters getting naked repeatedly.
Anyway. I got a fair chunk written on this super-secret thing and I really like it. It's not likely to be a novel, but should be a solid little novella by the time I get the last 5-6 scenes written.
But, the really interesting thing, is finding that disassociating myself from the content a little does seem to let my imagination run a little further. I am not second-guessing the plot nearly as much as usual. Maybe it's just a better plot. (It involves zombies. Out west. I doubt it's a better plot, but you never know.) I suspect, that knowing that my "real name" won't be on the cover has let me write with less criticism.
And that's interesting. Because, like I said before, I don't censor much. I do maintain a general awareness of the marketability of a story. When in doubt I might ask for second opinions on whether it's going too far. (When I was writing "Legacy" for the upcoming The Beast Within 4: Gears and Growls I emailed the editor to say "Hey. I think one of my characters is going to eat a piece of one of the other characters. Is that going to be too much?") But I try not to cut my creativity off at the knees by deciding ahead of time that I shouldn't write something.
I mean, within reason. A splatter-punk book featuring all the people in my life I feel have done wrong by me is a bad idea.
And it's safe to say I've written a few bad stories. Ideas that just didn't work on the page or wound up being some sort of message-driven wankery. (You know we all get that way sometimes, but those stories are best shelved, trunked or burned with fire.) But I try really hard to put everything down on the paper and then decide where the bones of a story lie and what's just fat.
But I still worry about certain things. I hesitate to confirm choices I know are right for the character. (Does anyone really need to know this character is gay? Is this character really that desperate?) I gloss over flaws or emotionally wrenching scenes because deep down I worry that it will be too much. And also because I worry that my word skillz (yes, with a zee) are just not up to the task.
Removing myself a step from the equation seems to have alleviated some of that fear. It could be temporary. Or a side-effect of the stress. Or maybe it's just the beginning of a growth spurt wherein I realize that I'm not writing for people who will judge me for what I choose to put down on the page, but for those who will appreciate the grit that comes with the territory of telling a story that feels real. And more naked scenes.