I’m great at focusing on a single task. When zoned-in, I can chew out a vast amount of “work” for my time and not ever look up from whatever I’m grinding at. Back when I was in the gaming coverage business, this focus allowed me to chew through more posts, reviews, updates, and bits than anyone else. It was one of my strengths, and it always has been – even when I was in school.
But, tangentially, there’s another thing I can be quite good at: going left.
Going left is basically giving in to distractions. It’s a phrase that my mom uses frequently, and one I’ve adopted as well – in both name and action. While I can be incredibly focused, I can also be prone to large bouts of tangents either related to or not even remotely related to whatever I’m doing at the time. Curiosity killed the cat, and if I was dumb enough to let myself get into dangerous situations it’d probably kill me too. I feed my tangent-taking self like it’s nobody’s business, and sometimes awesome things happen because of it.
Like my short stories, both the ones I’ve put up and the ones I haven’t (yet).
Recently, I found myself sitting with something I’m writing and wondering where I would go next and how it would link up. Being that I couldn’t come up with anything right off the hop and was starting to bore myself in the monotony of waiting, I decided to simply start writing something else about my character and see where it went. Oddly enough, it went back, and ended up leading me to tell a story from behind the story.
You see, the main character in one of my current works-in-progress is someone who is in the position she’s in because of a past event. While that event is important as a piece of her past, the things that happen there – the details of it all – were immaterial to the story that’s playing out in the book. It’s one of those things where you simply had to know it happened, not every detail of it. It just wasn’t that kind of backstory, so I never thought about writing it until just recently.
Sitting down to punch out a random slice of my character’s life, I ended up illuminating the very event that set her on her current path. It wasn’t important to the main work in its entirety, and it didn’t need to be detailed in the book because of that, but it is a clear and informative window into who the character is, and it works well to introduce you to her world (or at least the world she was trained in) from a very different perspective.
Liv is a complex character, and soon you might know why. All because I keep flying away with side stories, and other poolside fashion faux-pas.