IWSG – March 2022 – Conflicted
IWSG was created by Ninja Captain Alex J Cavanaugh — because Alex understands we need a safe place to congregate, insecurity is part of our creative nature, and together we’re stronger.
On the first Wednesday of each month, you can write on any subject related to your writing journey or adopt the option of answering the month’s question. Either way, you’re in safe territory.
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IWSG’s Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and the hashtag is #IWSG.
Every month, a question is announced that members can answer in their IWSG post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or a story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say.
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As soon as I saw this month’s question I decided I should answer it. Actually, I was convinced I should.
So I sat down.
After a time I got up and sweep the floor.
Then I sat down.
I tapped my foot, chewed my lower lip, looked out the window…
Finally, I got up and did the dishes (no dishwasher).
And then I sat down again. You can probably see where this is going. I kept staring at a blank screen.
It’s an easy question to answer. “Have you ever been conflicted about writing a story or adding a scene to a story? How did you decide to write it or not?”
I knew the answer concerned Broken But Not Dead. In the first 3 chapters, an English professor becomes the victim of a home invasion and is psychologically abused for two days. What you’re thinking is exactly what I thought at the time, “Who wants to read a book about that?!”
It was difficult to write the opening. Three torturous chapters before my protagonist takes matters into her own hands.
It became so difficult that one day I asked myself, “Am I writing these scenes to sell books?”
The possibility was horrifying.
To prove that it wasn’t true, I cut the scenes, finished the book, and set it aside for 2 weeks. I distanced myself. One morning, I read the opening again and immediately, instinctively, knew the scenes had to be put back. They were the catalyst for the plot. They were the driving force behind everything my protagonist Brendell Meshango did from chapter 4 onward.
Which then begged the question: Why am I writing this novel?
I don’t believe I had a choice. It felt wrong not to.
Broken But Not Dead is a story about redemption. It’s a story about rising above childhood trauma, brokenness, and taking back your power. Not to mention Brendell was haunting me day and night. Sometimes a person is faced with a rage that won’t go away, and to survive, you have to face it.
When Brendell Meshango resigns from her university professor position and retreats to her isolated cabin to repair her psyche, she is confronted by a masked intruder. His racial comments lead her to believe she is the solitary victim of a hate crime.
However, is all as it appears? After two bizarre days, the intruder mysteriously disappears but continues to play mind games with her. Taught by her mother to distrust the mainstream-based power structures, and with her stalker possibly linked to a high level of government, Brendell conceals the incident from the police. But will her silence keep her safe?
Then her beloved daughter, Zoë, is threatened and Brendell takes matters into her own hands. To save Zoë, Brendell searches for the stalker and confronts not just a depraved madman but her own fears and prejudices.
Broken But Not Dead won the IPPY 2012 Silver Medal.
I was moved by your post. Your conflict jumped off the page and stayed with me for days. I was impressed by the comments. So many identified with your struggle. Some knew you back then and encouraged you during those dark days. Nice reward for all your self determination: the IPPY 2012 Silver Medal.
Wishing you equal success with Kiss of the Assassin.
Thanks so much, Lynn.
Kudos for doing right by your story, even when it was difficult. I’m still learning the art of conveying difficult, disturbing material without going over the top and turning people off. It’s not easy.
I did too in the beginning. Studying my favourite authors helped immensely. Thanks Janet.
I read this book and yes, I thought it was a fantastic read. I’m glad it won the award. Think of what might have happened if you hadn’t written it the way you knew, it should be written.
Have a lovely day.
From my heart to your, Pat, Namaste.
I think it’s commendable that you committed to taking the scenes out and then gave it time to really feel whether that was right for the story. I’ll remember that the next time I’m conflicted over a scene.
Best to you Yvette. Thanks for stopping by.
I think it takes courage to write a psychological mystery. Writers who already struggle with PTSS may choose not to write such stories. I wish your book were available on Kindle. Your clear discussion of how the scenes were cut and then readded helps clarify how hard writers work. May the coming months be good writing months for you.
It actually is available as an ebook. Thanks, Beth.
It’s hard to put things aside and let them simmer. I know I don’t like to do it, even though I ALWAYS work better when I approach a project with fresh eyes.
Being a writer is a tough profession. Good thing we’re passionate about it. Best of luck with your manuscript.
I love your reflection about that opening.
Thanks, Steph. And thanks for stopping by.
I find it hard to set one of my stories aside when I am done with it. (Just to give myself a fresh perspective. ) By the time I’m finished with the first draft, it’s become an obsession.
I have to these days. I need to step away. Otherwise I drive myself nuts cutting and pasting.
I know. I know. Do we overthink things as writers? I don’t know. Sometimes we just need to go with our gut. I giggled at your procrastination at answering the question. I know that too! I am going to re-read that book. I like knowing about the behind-the-scenes birthing of the book.
That’s what I mean! We writers are so different, yet so much alike.
Doing the right thing CAN be the hardest thing of all. It’s all that thinking and questioning that the toughest part.
Anna from elements of emaginette
Wise words, Anna. Thank you.
Readers have no idea what torment writing can be. You’ve given them a hint.
haha, “torment” is the perfect word. How often do I have a love/hate relationship with writing? All the time. Thanks, Lee.
I’ve removed and then added scenes so many times. Mostly I’m too rigid to let them go.
I’m possessive too. We struggle so hard over each word. No wonder we have trouble giving them up.
If the scene drives the story, then it needed to be there.
I agree. And that’s why the scene was put back in.
I loved reading about your process in writing, removing and then adding the scenes again. Broken but Not Dead sounds fabulous. I look forward to reading it.
Thanks so much, Kalpana.
It is a tough subject, but you kept it tasteful and not sensational.
And I always appreciated your response, Diane. Your support gave me the confidence to believe I was doing right by leaving that scene in.