Hopefully, this month's dose of grouch will pass soon. It happened to coincide with my discovery that Crowmaker wasn't really working, so it's been mixed with a heaping helping of frustration and a dollop of despondency, and I'm really tired of snarling and pouting and wringing my hands now, thanks.
In my reading, I've already realized that it's not the Wild West era that needs to be studied for use in Crowmaker. It's the earlier days when westward expansion first began, somewhere in the vicinity of the Cumberland Gap and Daniel Boone and the Wilderness Road, when the west was still only beginning to be explored in full and the flood of settlers had yet to pour in. I've run across a couple of cool and inspirational facts already. More in depth reading on that time period will follow, I believe.
I have also reached a more difficult conclusion about Crowmaker and about the last novel I finished but put in a drawer because I was still not fully satisfied with it, and maybe about my writing in general--maybe about my life in general. Somewhere along the line I've started pulling punches. In life, I hate conflict. Despise it. Will go out of my way to avoid it. I will stand up for myself, if needed, but I've built my lifestyle in such a way that it's not often needed. And when an idea pops up for a story that requires facing something dark and ugly and difficult--you know, the kind of things that make stories really juicy?--I've been sidestepping around them, telling myself but no, they aren't important to the real story. Except maybe they are, and my subconscious is just taking the usual, practiced steps to avoiding conflict.
And since story IS conflict, this is a problem. Which is not to say my stories don't have conflict. But they're predictable conflict. Controlled. Stuff I planned on. And these other conflicts are... I don't know. Bigger? Deeper? More meaningful?
Hmm. Even I'm not sure at this point what I'm trying to say. But there's something important buried under this "x," I'm pretty sure.