Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Do I need to like everything I write?

This is a question I’ve been pondering lately.  Notice that it is a yes or no question.  I cannot answer it without first breaking it down and clarifying exactly what I mean and basically making it more complicated.  Otherwise, this would be a very short post.

As a whole, I need to like every book I write.  They can’t all be my favorite; I do like some more than others.  But I won’t publish something I don’t like.  That’s not really what I mean by this question at all.

It isn’t about the opinions of the characters either.  I want my main characters to be different and variety insists they can’t all sound just like me.  Sometimes they deliberately express opinions I don’t share.  Sometimes they do things I can’t picture myself ever doing.  I have to imagine the character with different influences and experiences, even in little things.  In the book I’m currently writing, for just one example, the heroine spots a guy carrying a floor tom.  (No, I’m not going to explain why right now.)  She does not have a son who plays the drums, nor have I imagined a particularly musical background.  It seemed more appropriate for her to describe the drum than to throw out the name.

And now we’re finally coming to what sparked the title question.  In the same book, there is a pizza restaurant.  I do not like the name I’ve given to this restaurant.  I can’t say what this name is because I haven’t decided if I’m going to change it.  If I think of an awesome name tomorrow, no one needs to know what the bad name was.  And if someone eventually sees that awesome name in the book and thinks it’s really not that awesome, no one needs to know I changed it.  For now, let’s imagine I called the pizza place something super creative like Pizza Place.

Whenever a character refers to Pizza Place, I have something like a mental spasm where I’m trying not to be terribly annoyed with a character I otherwise like for calling his restaurant something ridiculous.  I didn’t think of this name, he did.  Except that we all know I’m really behind his thoughts.  I want to blame him for the dumb name.  It was his bad idea.  But I gave him that idea. 

There are only two possibilities.  I’m either entertaining myself with a paradox that isn’t, or I hurt my brain a little when it sputtered out that awful name.  Writing is fun.

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