Starting a Dialogue

I have a drawer where my bad writing goes to die. Inside are literally millions of cringe-worthy words I’ll never read again. I got better at writing because I made mistakes with such gusto that by a few months in, it didn’t hurt to fix them anymore.

Unfortunately, I didn’t document that process. I didn’t even think critically about it. Writing was something I had to do, not something I tried to do.

I want this blog to give me (and you) a window into my writing process. I could talk more about what I hope for it to be about, but it’s far more interesting to just get into it. Let’s start with my latest project.

Love Drug is a serial novel I’ve been writing for about a year now. I’ve never written so much for a project, nor have I ever written something that so closely resembles what I imagine.

The story follows a business developer, Everett, and a marketing student, Ada, as they brand and market a drug, called Libra, designed to solve intimacy issues.

Before I began writing Love Drug, my stories would be about one person who inevitably represented me (no matter how I tried to obscure or change myself). I didn’t just want to follow a single character anymore. I wanted this story to be different, so I made Love Drug about a man and a woman.

I’ve watched myself and others try to fix spiritual and emotional problems with pills, so I wanted to take the modern idea of the “happy pill” to an extreme: a love drug.

Stories about love potions have been around for ages, but inspired by Brave New World and my own search for answers in pills, I thought I could bring something new to the genre.

The idea of two people pursuing love in such a mechanistic and cynical way was irresistible. How would it affect them? What would their relationship look like?

For Love Drug to be accessible, though, I needed to make my characters unique and separate from myself.

This was difficult. I can’t escape from being myself. There’s going to be some part of me in everything I write, so rather than run from it, I decided to acknowledge and embrace it.

Ada and Everett’s characters each represent a different part of me. I’m loath to simplify them here, but for the sake of this post I will. Ada became the smart, anxious, and naive me and Everett became the ambitious, confident, and introspective me.

Splitting up my personality like this left my characters incomplete, like partial sets of chromosomes. Instead of filling in the gaps with what I thought was best, I started writing my characters into their world the way they were, incomplete. It wasn’t intentional, but something fascinating happened: they themselves began to fill in the missing pieces.

Ada’s inability to be introspective lead her to understand the world in a way that I never have, a way entirely her own. Everett’s confidence and experience (without my anxiety) helped him become his own person. By two chapters in, I knew two people who had never existed before.

Once I had woven Everett and Ada into the world I’d created, it took on a life that I couldn’t possibly have planned.

I’ll have more on that next time, but for now you can see what I mean by reading Love Drug here.

Until next time,

gjk

Image Source: Klassen (2016)

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