Saturday, April 23, 2011

Guilt, the Furies and Me

Orestes and the Furies, a photo snagged by Denny S. Bryce

I am feeling guilty today about a whole mess of things (my lack of regular blog entries only one of the items on the list). But since writing is the most glaring in my mind, I decided to blog about writer's guilt. Which I thought for sure would have its own special page on Wikipedia, but no, there's just the normal fare.

Guilt - a cognitive emotional experience when a person believes - either rightly or wrongly - that they have violated a moral standard and bears significant responsibility for that violation.

Sounds pretty high and mighty, the stuff of great big, fat books, with long words and pages with crumbled brown edges. You know, original manuscripts of old, written by the likes of Shakespeare or ancient Greeks with names such as Euripides. And yes, I know there are a a bunch of romance writers who can give the Greeks a run for their money when it comes to creating complicated guilt-ridden characters and plots driven by a character's issues. But this is about me...

On that same page of Wikipedia is an image of Orestes, pursued by the Furies, tormenting him about his guilt over killing his mother.

Having not killed anyone - at least not me personally, perhaps a character or two has committed such an act, but again, I'm feeling guilty about not writing enough lately. Too busy with the JOB and other sundries to keep my eye on the prize - that prize by the way is finishing a manuscript to my satisfaction - not for anyone else at this stage - just moi.

So the point of today's blog - are their furies chasing you around the room, casting their evil thoughts on your guilt-ridden writer's mind? Do they look like procrastination, muse gone bad, impatience, poor time management skills, or too many episodes of mediocre TV?

I wonder if I can use one of my furies to help me add more conflict to my manuscript? For example, if my main character is suffering from survivor's guilt, and the sound of her own laughter makes her stomach ache, what if her new partner cracks her up with his wry sense of humor? Is that conflict? How do I work it into a scene where they do more than argue? Mmmm...am I on to something here, or just dealing with another fury? The demon named wishful thinking?

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