Monday, January 3, 2011

Method Writing

I'm a method writer.

You hear a lot about "the writing method" in school (as if there's this Method that's somehow going to make a writer out of you), but that's not the subject of this blog.  I'm not talking about the writing method but about method writing, which is like method acting: the process of becoming the character you're portraying rather than merely analyzing the lines.

Being a method writer definitely has its ups and downs.

The biggest hurdle for me is that most of my protagonists are male, so I've had to get in touch with my "inner man."  Apparently I've succeeded.  My (ex) husband described my first protagonist, Yuannan, as "an arrogant jerk," which tells me I got it right.

Method writing plays havoc with my calendar.  I wrote the resurrection scene in Beloved Disciple in August and danced into church the morning I finished it, grinning and singing, "He is risen!"  I'm not positive, but I think I also wished several people a happy Easter.  Considering the abysmal mood I'd been in for three weeks prior to that, they began to wonder if perhaps I was bipolar.

I thought about fishing a lot while writing Beloved Disciple, and even took up kayaking so I could spend more time on the water.  During The Voice I began sleeping on the floor.  I fell in love with the ancient city of Alexandria while writing The Carpenter, and...

... then came Brothers.  Whew!  What a ride!  I began to feel a bit schizoid, switching back and forth between Katan and Yisu, who are absolutely nothing alike.  My roommate could tell which chapter I was on by my attitude...I'm pretty sure she preferred the Yisu weeks. 

I'm stuck at the moment, but I'm not really surprised.  You see, Yisu is now a grown man and I'm having trouble getting inside his head and staying there.  The irony is that getting inside Yeshua's head and staying there is (or ought to be) the goal of every Christian.  So the fact that I am having trouble with this concerns me more than simply dealing with writer's block.  This is a spiritual blockage, and one that is undoubtedly affecting every other area of my life.

Method writing is the reason I had to abandon my original plan for the series.  After The Voice, I was supposed to write Seven Demons -- the unofficial autobiography of Mary Magdalene.  Try becoming her while teaching sixth grade in a Christian school!  So that book, along with The Rock and Gone the Glory, will have to wait until I can make writing a full-time career.  It turns out that several of the disciples were not exactly what you would call "respectable" least, that's how I interpret Simon Peter's advice to Jesus: "Get away from me, Lord, for I'm a sinful man!"  Simon the Zealot was probably a murdering thug, and whether or not Magdalene was a whore (the jury is still out on that one) she was undoubtedly living a dubious lifestyle while possessed by seven demons.  Their lives are not really suitable material for a flannel-board; frankly, I don't know how to tell their stories and still keep a PG rating on the books.

Speaking of ratings, I do write for adults and most of my novels are PG-13.  The only one I'd slap a PG on is The Voice.  (That's also the only novel, incidentally, in which I haven't crucified anyone.)  I hope writers are not judged for the sins they commit against their characters, because if God is keeping score, I've killed more than a dozen characters already, and only one of them was cut down by old age.

Well, I'm rambling, so I'd better call it quits for the night.  I'll talk more about my "inner serial killer" in another blog.

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