Today is the day I’m supposed to share what I have been working on for the Writers Unite project set up by Jim Woods at the beginning of this month. But I have a problem. I don’t actually have anything to share. Well, nothing in terms of an actual story anyway – a fact that has increasingly been stressing me out over the last few days.
My plan had been to polish up my entry for last year’s National Novel Writing Month challenge, but when I sat down with the story October 1st, I realized that was not going to work, as the manuscript in question was a hot mess. Seriously. Plot lines went hither and yon, story ideas were discarded on an almost daily basis, and I soon discovered the biggest problem was I did not really know my characters. They were simply rough ideas on a page trying desperately to find their respective voices and tell some kind of a story.
So I have spent most of this month working on character sketches, of getting a feel for who Sam and Judy Hendricks are, how their relationship works, why they would buy a coffee shop with Sam’s best friend Nathan Taylor, and how the fact Sam’s little sister Jess is best friends with Judy can sometimes be irksome for Sam. And what of Art Munroe, the janitor/maintenance man for The Blue Bean Coffee Shop and the quartet of apartments on the building’s second floor? What is he up to? There are whispers of some sort of a spy network, but as of yet they remain just that – whispers.
All of this has and continues to stretch me (uncomfortably so in many instances). For most of my fiction writing/story ideas of late have revolved around fan fiction of some sorts, where the hard work of creating characters and back stories and the like has already been done. I had grown lazy in terms of establishing characters and plots and whatnot – a fact that was driven home when I took Andi Cumbo’s short story writing class this past summer.
So while it has been tempting several times over to discard The Secret Lives of Baristas, I am going to press on. I’m going to peck away at things while I work on next month’s NaNoWriMo entry. I’m going to write, even when it’s hard. And soon I will have a story to share.
Writers, I hope we stay united even as October draws to close. You have all helped me greatly, but the journey is not over yet – not for me, not for you, and certainly not for Sam and Judy. We all still have stories to tell.