For my last post, I declared that I didn’t believe in “writer’s block” – because I don’t. But I do understand that occasionally, we all just get stuck. You’re in a scene that isn’t doing what you thought it would do, or you don’t know where it goes next, and the book stops moving forward. It might not be the mythical, all-powerful writer’s block holding you back, but something has definitely gone wrong.
It’s one of the most common questions writers get: How do you deal with writer’s block?
Legend has it that writer’s block is this mysterious, insurmountable malady that befalls writers for no known reason, and there is no known cure. Any creative mind can be crippled by it at any time. How can we escape it? Is there anything we can do?
My personal solution: I refuse to believe in writer’s block.
Does anyone out there not know what fanfiction is, by now? Even a decade ago, lots of people were confused about it, but by now it seems to be almost mainstream. Just in case, though, here’s the definition: Fanfiction is the writing done by fans of an existing text (be it book, movie, tv show, commercial, poetry – you name it), using the characters and/or premise of that text to tell an original story.
Every once in a while, you see people get puffed up and self-righteous about fanfiction. I can’t stand these people. None of their objections make any sense. For instance, one thing you often hear is, “Why don’t these people create their own characters?” Because we love the existing characters, and we’re curious about them, that’s why. Humanity has always told new stories about existing characters; that’s how mythology is born. That’s why we have the Arthurian legends. People didn’t want just one story about Lancelot, Guinevere, Merlin, Morgana, etc. – they wanted hundreds, and so they invented them. The best became part of the legend itself.
One of the first questions a lot of people ask an author about their book is, “If it becomes a movie, who would you cast?”
To be honest, this is a question that makes my heart sink a bit. I could nobly proclaim that this is because books are BOOKS, brilliant on their own and with no need of a movie to validate their existence. This is all true. Also, my heart sinks because nobody is making a movie of my book.
But the main reason I’m uneasy about the question is that I never have a good answer. I very rarely mentally cast people of appropriate age in the roles. When my internal images of my characters match up with actors, they’re always adults at least a decade too old for the part; I simply de-age them in my mind. For instance, in my novel A THOUSAND PIECES OF YOU, the character of Theo is absolutely, 100% Robert Downey Jr. However, it’s the Robert Downey Jr. of thirty years ago, so unless someone’s got a Tardis handy, he’ll be unavailable to play the role in any future films.
Young RDJ: Just right. Except the hair. THEO DOES NOT HAVE THAT HAIR.
Older RDJ: Gloriously hot, and at least 30 years too old for the part.
I read a lot of YA literature, and so today I am going to write about three great 'AND' books:
Zac & Mia
When I was fourteen, I wanted to be a cartoonist. I have no idea how this came about, but I started filling up Safeway notebooks with pictures. I found one of them recently, which I had modestly titled ‘Alice’s A-Z Guide to Life’, from 1995:
As you can see, all the pages have annoying blue lines through them (it was, after all, a Safeway note book which I got for 30c), but I had an Introduction:
Our excellent designer at Black Inc, Peter, created the perfect cover for my new book about a fictional private all-girls school. As you can see, it’s an easily recognisable symbol.
When I was fifteen, one of the high schools I attended had a kilt very much like this one. It cost about $115 at the time. Neither of my parents owned any item of clothing that expensive. We had to get our money’s worth. So at the uniform shop when they measured me up for the kilt, I asked the tailor to lower the hem until it almost reached my ankles.
I had waited months for Wednesday evening to arrive, because John Marsden was coming to launch my book! Not only was John Marsden coming to launch my book, but he would be in my home at Janet Clarke Hall! All I had to do was come downstairs to be in a room full of staff, students, my wonderful publishers, bookish friends from all areas of my writing life and of course my family. Everyone was very excited to see John Marsden – we’d grown up with his books. He wrote not about teenagers, but to teenagers.