I was ill, and then my Macbook was in for refurbishing, and now I'm fasting for Ramadan. And that is why I'm writing this so late; I am being nocturnal and working on the novel.
I taught last week about setting... I have to work so hard for setting. The blocking, the duality of it. But it can make or break a story. When I heard Arthur Levine speak at LeakyCon 2011, he spoke about hunger, and how he was inspired by hunger in the Harry Potter books. As I'm fasting, it's quite on my mind right now. Hunger can drive a story so well. It can drive a story just the way desire can, and any writer knows how to use that. Two years ago one of my characters was locked in a shed and starving for days. I wrote about it, of course, because that's my job. Through his hunger I realized a more stylistic tone of voice, but I also realized something more important.
There is a reason why excellent writers don't always meet their potential. Strong writers love their characters and what they represent. It's difficult to put someone you love through the kind of suffering and conflict that a worthy story demands. It's nearly impossible, in fact. It's certainly not the only contradiction of the writing process; chronology alone can drive a writer to tears. But I haven't written a story since that didn't make me reach that fork in the road: I have to choose whether to do the best or the easiest thing for a character. I've never written about a boy who didn't want to be a man by the end of his story, and sometimes suffering is the best path to preserving innocence. So I let him starve in the shed.
The Outsiders illustrates this with aching accuracy. I met the author by chance while visiting a university, but that's a story for another time.
Stay gold, everyone, and thanks for reading.