Reader’s Block

By K. Trian

This blog post was originally published on writingforums.org, but I thought I’d share it here as well. Team T. K. Trian has been quite busy lately: still revising Solus and some of our hobbies have taken time (horses, Toni’s band), but hopefully we’ll be more productive the closer we get to autumn.

In any case, I thought I’d share this with you, interwebz.

I’m suffering of something I’ve come to call “a reader’s block” (wowsers, how clevah, K!). Anymoo, it’s like a writer’s block in the sense that I have difficulties with starting or getting back to a novel I was reading, even though I’ve enjoyed the story.

So I started to dissect this little brain defect o’ mine.

I realized that there are at least three issues that keep me from fully immersing myself into a story other than the one T.Trian and I are working on (yes, I write with a partner):

1) Plagcident

I’m afraid of finding something familiar in another writer’s novel. A plot twist, a character, something that’s similar to one or few aspects in our WIP. As if me not finding it would make these possible similarities go away! I guess it’s a matter of accidental plagiarism. But why should I even care? Everything’s been done already (“you just have to put your own spin to it, hun”). I think I’m just afraid of that crushing feeling when you realize something you thought brilliant-er than a strobo-chandelier has already been done and “recycling” it would just make you look dumber than Paris Hilton in a power suit.

2) Anal-lyzing

I seem to be going through a phase during which I’m over-analyzing everything, including this. I’ve become very anal about grammar, writing techniques, pacing, etc. so when I’m reading a novel, I catch myself (nit)picking the prose instead of enjoying the story. It’s pretty tiresome, and I guess, knowing how tiresome it is, I’ve avoided picking up novels. Especially in English.

3) Color Me Choosy

It’s been very difficult to find novels that I actually enjoy. I don’t often follow through with the recommendations from others, to be honest, unless they are really good salesmen. I use Amazon to browse reviews, but it’s fairly time-consuming because you can’t trust everything that’s said there, thanks to the relative prevalence of sockpuppets, plus some people bash books for no other reason but personal grudge or perpetual hemorrhoids. So I find myself returning to the novels I’ve read a gazillion times (and that are also safe accidental plagiarism -wise).
***

Curiously enough, I have no problem beta-reading. It’s fun. Maybe it’s more appealing because I feel like I contribute to something even though many stories I beta-read tend to have more hiccoughs than a published novel — which is understandable (our WIP doesn’t have just hiccoughs, it has effing TB).

Still, it feels like not reading as much as I used to deprives me of so many things. Partly it feels like being the only absolutist at a kegger, partly like I was that asshole player who shows up to the band practice but never practices on her own at home.

Should I worry? Should I just wait for this to pass? (it’s a phase, right, RIGHT?) Maybe I should just force myself to read more. Promise myself I have to read something new (and preferably in English) at least a little bit every evening before going to sleep, and that it has to be a novel, not a comic or a children’s book or a fitness magazine.

Yeah, maybe I’ll do that.

Truth be told, I hope I’m the only one with this reader’s block ‘cause it SUCKS, but on the other hand it would be nice to learn I’m not the only loser on the block and how others have dealt with it.

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Writing about Uncomfortable Things

By K. Trian

Just a little bit of light in the darkness.

Okay, different people have different comfort levels, but I’ve noticed over the course of our “writing life” that T and I tend to veer towards rather uncomfortable things in our writing.

Sometimes this makes me nervous.

Just yesterday we came up with a new sub-story line to our current WIP, but already I’m wondering how other people would react to it. It’s about a woman who coerces a man sexually. This is a subject little discussed. A man can’t be raped right? Definitely not by a woman because women are so small and weak, right? It’s a difficult subject, and in Solus we wanted to take different angles to (sexual) abuse.

In fact, our sci-fi WIP, Solus, is turning into an uncomfortable juggernaut in other ways too. The science part of it is not pretty, the portrayals of human greed and corruption in the space colony of Solus don’t warm my heart whenever I’m writing or thinking about these subjects, and sometimes I feel like crying whenever we write the most damaged characters, the victims of the abuse from above, from people who have more power. I know I want to discuss these subjects, and I want to tell these stories, but sometimes they make me so uncomfortable, I start to wonder if there’s any sense in writing like this. Should we really carry on?

We always do, though. It’s like we owe it to the characters who are trying to survive in the dark and hostile world we’ve created. If we never finished the story, I’d feel like I had forsaken them there, in the dark.

Sometimes I’m afraid what others, possible future readers, will think. Will they misunderstand everything? Think the content is gratuitous? (I know it isn’t, but as said, people are different) Question our sanity? (likely). But here we, T. K. Trian, just have to trust our writing and vision, tell the stories we think should be told. And it’s not all doom and gloom either. There’s lots of humor and romance as well. But especially with Solus, I feel the uncomfortable is always there, hanging heavily above like a storm cloud, or out of sight, like a poisonous river running underground.

What types of uncomfortable issues have you addressed in your writing? Have you ever found yourself biting more than you can chew?