This is one of the strangest problems I’ve ever encountered. Literally and figuratively, I have cold feet. Traditionally, I didn’t even need socks in my ski-boots because my feet were always warm. Also, traditionally, when I started writing a book, I was excited, happy, interested, involved and all that good stuff but right now, though I’ve put on my sheepskin slippers (in June, already! Hmmph. Smarten up, weatherman), my toes want a hot water bottle. As for the writing, I started out excited, etc. but suddenly I’ve come to a dead halt less than halfway through the fourth book in a series. This is where the psychological cold feet come in. The Chronicles of Storn is a project that’s been on my mind off and on for more than twenty years. The first in the series published in 2014, the second and third, in 2015, and this one is supposed to be out later this year. But… when I finally finish it, will my writing life be over? Do I want it to be? Can I put these characters away like I have so many others, and move on, come up with new ideas? Frankly, at this moment, I’m scared to learn the answer.
Throughout the other three books, these people have survived quakes, floods, fires, and fought off vicious wildcats, not to mention horrendous avians that can pick up a cow and fly off with it. They’ve learned to adapt to some pretty severe conditions, and have overcome plenty of difficulties. Some have died in accidents. Some have simply wandered away and may, I suppose, wander back, but maybe not.The main protagonists have a goal. In fact, it could even be called a mission. I know what it is and want to see them and their troop fulfill it.
The trouble for me is they also have the unusual ability to remain at the same biological age as when they arrived on the planet, which means I’ve painted myself and my sheepskin slippers into a corner. They’ve been there, exploring and enduring for three hundred years and none of them has grown any older. I can’t seem to make these characters move on, grow within themselves, develop new ways of looking at life. I don’t even know if they should or could. If a man stalls biologically at the age of forty-five, is he going to keep on learning, keep on questioning, keep on wondering? Oh, right, sure I know a lot of men who have physically and chronologically lived forty-five years yet remain at the age of fourteen in certain situations, such as laughing like lunatics when another guy bashes his thumb with a hammer or falls overboard or loses his trunks when he dives off the high-board.
This doesn’t apply to women, of course. When they grow up, they grow up. Well, mostly. Apart from needing company when they go to the bathroom in a restaurant where they can talk privately and giggle about the men who are still mentally fourteen. None of the women in this particular book seem to feel really bad about not growing physically older. They kind of revel in it. They are between the ages of seventeen and forty, so of course they’re not going to complain about their physical appearance any more than the men do. These gals don’t have sagging boobs and butts. They don’t have wrinkles beyond smile- and squint-lines, but I would like them to begin to show some wisdom as they age. You know, stop giggling together.
I suspect since no one has sagging boobs or butts, I’m simply suffering from middle-book sag myself. (I shall not mention my own body parts here, except to say I cut my finger a couple of weeks ago and couldn’t write until the stitches came out.) Well, they’re out, and here I am at the keyboard again, and still not writing the damn book. I’d rather go swimming. But the water’s too cold even in this shallow little bay, even when it’s supposed to be summer, or darn close to it. What I’d really like to do is run away from home and–
Hey! Hold on here! Remember those characters who wandered away and may, or may not come wandering back? What if one or two more of the main protags do the running away from home thing? That would make the others start thinking things like, what did I do wrong? What did I say? How can I change to ensure this doesn’t happen again if I take up with someone else? Soul-searching’s a good way for a character to grow and change, even over a three-hundred-year period. If a woman’s been living with the same man for sixty or seventy years or even a hundred or two (heaven forfend!) so long as nothing on her sags, what’s to stop her from making a run for it? After all, they’ve shared the same experiences over and over and over again, so why not look farther afield while she can? And if a guy has been sleeping with the same woman for decades and decades and is still randy and rarin’ to go, wouldn’t he be happy for a change of pace? Son of a gun! I think my middle-book sag just got a boob-job and a tummy-tuck, not to mention a new lease on life. Later, folks. Joe Storn’s about to get the world knocked right out from under his size thirteen mukluks.