In real life. I mean, I really hate it. I can’t stand fighting or debating or even disagreeing with someone else. And it literally makes me sick when someone is angry with me or thinks I’ve done a bad job or criticizes me. Makes me want to vomit and keeps me awake at night. And even months later, if I think back to a person who has been angry with me, I find myself saying “I hate my life.” I’m totally serious about that.
So, aside from the obvious- I need a therapist- I tend to stay away from conflict as much as possible (okay that was probably pretty obvious, too).
Not really a very good quality for a writer.
Because a writer needs to understand conflict. Needs to be able to dissect it and take out all the little pieces and understand why each character feels the way they do and why they would do what they do and why what they feel and what they do causes problems for other characters. Still with me?
Also, if you can’t take criticism, your writing will never live up to its full potential.
But back to understanding conflict.
On the first draft of Twenty-Five I constantly got feedback that there wasn’t any conflict. That the problems the characters faced weren’t really in the conflict realm because they were so easily resolved. That there wasn’t one overarching conflict holding the story together.
So on the “second” draft I tried to bring out more conflict.
And now on the “third” draft, I’m trying to bring out even more, because if a book needs an overarching conflict, I still don’t think I have it.
Because in Twenty-Five, the conflict is life. And living a new relationship. And learning how to love. Sometimes it’s really great. Because falling in love is great. And sometimes it’s a little blah, because life is a little blah. But what real conflict do we have in life? I don’t have one overarching thing that holds the story of my life together. And I don’t think the characters in my book need to either.
Yes, I realize I’m probably crazy. No publisher or agent is going to want a book that doesn’t have a conflict. But when I started writing this book over a year ago, my goal was to write a book without a hook, without a gimmick. Just a story as real-to-life as possible about the beginning of a relationship. Isn’t that conflict enough? I mean really. What’s more difficult in this world than starting a relationship with someone new?
I think this whole desire to avoid conflict at all costs is one of the things preventing me from finishing any of my other novel ideas (characterization is another big problem I have. And description. I hate description. And prose, too. I don’t hate prose, I’m just no good at it. Dialogue- I’m good at dialogue). Because for the most part, a story has no where to go if it has no higher conflict. That’s what makes Twenty-Five so special though, I think. I managed to write a story about two people and that’s all it’s about. Two people and their love for each other. A love story is what most people want for themselves, right?
I realize that my posts lately have really been lacking in the substance department. I hope this makes up for it a little bit. But what you have to understand about me is that I really don’t have a lot of substance- at least not in the way a writer/blogger should have substance. I wish I did, but I know that I don’t. I’m not deep. I read a lot, but I usually can’t have an intellectual conversation about books. I can’t really put into words how something makes me feel. I find it difficult to stay on topic and to argue a point of view.
Because arguing, after all, is too much like conflict.
So, these random, journal-like, entries are what you get when you come to I Picked Up A Pen One Day. I’m sorry if you wanted advice on how to be a better writer. Or to see the process of what going from start to finish on a book looks like. Or the kinship of another intellectual pursuing their true passion while the world holds them back. I can’t be those things. I wish I could be. But I can’t.
I know what you’re thinking- Never say “I Can’t” because you can!
I don’t want to be someone I’m not. So, sometimes, saying “I Can’t” is the best thing I can do for myself.
Wow, this has really wandered from my original topic.
Back to conflict. I don’t like it. I don’t want to write it. So maybe I’ll try and be the conflict-less writer. And maybe I’ll still be unpublished 50 years from now. And maybe that is just going to have to be okay.
Milestone Update: This is my 96th post! There are 23 days until my One year Blogiversary!
And a little thing that makes me happy: GLEE! That show is so stinkin’ amazing!
4 thoughts on “I Dislike Conflict…”
Did you know I lurk here? I have you marked in my Blog Surfer doo-hickey thingamabob. Really I do. I just tend to not comment unless I have something really good to say. Which, really, hasn’t been happening lately. I will try to have something worthwhile to say and leave you a comment from time to time so you feel like you have more than 2 readers.
That’s really sweet, thank you! I do have more than two readers, I know, but they seem to come in short bursts. I always love finding out someone’s been reading!
I came to your blog by way of the Bad Pants family. I hadn’t really thought about ‘conflict’ being the necessary ingredient in holding a story together…though I guess I should have, considering my favorite book of all time, Pride and Prejudice, lives and breathes conflict.
Hey, Welcome! Bad Pants is pretty awesome, so I know you have good taste right off the bat, and then you tell me P&P is your favorite book and that tells me you have the BEST taste! It’s my favorite too- I’ve read it like 20 times.