Anthropologic Laboratory

For a novelist, a given historic situation is an anthropologic laboratory in which he explores his basic question: what is human existence?
 – Milan Kundera (Czech writer)

Fellow novelists, do you feel as though you question the foundations of human existence in your writing?

Perhaps this may not be so for romance writers, or not felt as deeply.

Or perhaps it is felt deepest by romance writers, as they often deal with humanity on an intimate level, in terms of emotions and heartbreak.

I read this quote days ago and have been mulling over it since. You see, while re-typing First Draft B into the Second Draft, I’ve come upon a snag in which I feel like I’m writing crap. Which is heartbreaking and odd, as I’m very much in love with this novel as a whole.

In my quest to Show Not Tell, I’m afraid I’ve written a chapter of talking heads. It may be the most dynamic way to get the information across, but is dynamic the best way, after all? I’ve striven against relying completely on my narration, but it is my narration which I often find to be my strongest bit of writing at any given time.

In any case, my lack of sleep as I transition into graduate school has not helped my editing process, as my sour mood only makes my work look amateur when a month ago it looked shiny, enthusiastic, and sincere.

I’m thinking of cutting my posting schedule back from twice a week to once a week in response. As much as I love discussing writing as a whole, I need to do some actual writing if this book is to be seen by someone other than myself.

And I still search for a beta reader, as it seems I’m past the point/not entirely in the market for a critique partner (grad school and all). Which is unfortunate, for I was beyond excited about Crit Partner Match. This is why it’s best to do one’s research before jumping in.

So tell me: do you ponder human existence in your work? Is that the underlying question to all our writing?

8 thoughts on “Anthropologic Laboratory

  1. Questioning the human existence is the sole driving force behind my work. Even though I write romance, I see the conflict between my h/h as more than “love needs to conquer all.” I put them into situations where they are forced to question everything about their lives they’ve taken for granted. Which is one reason why I get stuck and down on my writing because I feel out of place with my ambitions, or feel that I’m being arrogant to want to be ambitious with a romance novel.

    But I hear you on the school front. I thought I had it easy compared to writers who are mothers, wives and employees, but going to school and writing both take equal amounts of mental energy. I am terrible at multi-tasking, but I haven’t yet learned to balance this creative side with my intellectual side.

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  2. Questioning the human existence is the sole driving force behind my work. Even though I write romance, I see the conflict between my h/h as more than “love needs to conquer all.” I put them into situations where they are forced to question everything about their lives they’ve taken for granted. Which is one reason why I get stuck and down on my writing because I feel out of place with my ambitions, or feel that I’m being arrogant to want to be ambitious with a romance novel.

    But I hear you on the school front. I thought I had it easy compared to writers who are mothers, wives and employees, but going to school and writing both take equal amounts of mental energy. I am terrible at multi-tasking, but I haven’t yet learned to balance this creative side with my intellectual side.

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  3. No need to feel ambitious or arrogant. You are writing the story that speaks the most to you…otherwise, you would be writing a different story. If you want to talk about ambitious, try reading the Angelique series by Sergeanne Golon. It's romance, but it's also history, politcal intrigue, questioning human existence… Be inspired by the sheer magnitude of the work, rather than worried that you're going beyond the realms of "romance."

    My problem now is that I'm in a design program, whereas before I was in engineering. Engineering only required my analytical side, leaving my creative side to prance around in the Land of Imagination, frisking with my story ideas and reporting the juicy details to me later. Now, I need both my analytical and creative sides working for school, which leaves very little left for my writing. I'm not sure how to balance it, yet.

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  4. No need to feel ambitious or arrogant. You are writing the story that speaks the most to you…otherwise, you would be writing a different story. If you want to talk about ambitious, try reading the Angelique series by Sergeanne Golon. It’s romance, but it’s also history, politcal intrigue, questioning human existence… Be inspired by the sheer magnitude of the work, rather than worried that you’re going beyond the realms of “romance.”

    My problem now is that I’m in a design program, whereas before I was in engineering. Engineering only required my analytical side, leaving my creative side to prance around in the Land of Imagination, frisking with my story ideas and reporting the juicy details to me later. Now, I need both my analytical and creative sides working for school, which leaves very little left for my writing. I’m not sure how to balance it, yet.

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  5. That's why I blogged about my feelings on the subject. :/

    My bete noir is all the reading and research I am required to do as an anthropology/archaeology major. I have to learn to compartmentalize information for school and information for my books. Heaven forbid I'm trying to do research for a WIP!

    Which is why I keep waffling on what to write. Should I go with a regular old British set historical since I know the setting, or should I go with a book set someplace for which I need to do extra research?

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  6. That’s why I blogged about my feelings on the subject. :/

    My bete noir is all the reading and research I am required to do as an anthropology/archaeology major. I have to learn to compartmentalize information for school and information for my books. Heaven forbid I’m trying to do research for a WIP!

    Which is why I keep waffling on what to write. Should I go with a regular old British set historical since I know the setting, or should I go with a book set someplace for which I need to do extra research?

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  7. That’s a tough question! I think you should do what feels the best right now. If you’re doing research that works for school and your WIP, that’s awesome. More power to you, seriously.

    But if you’re feeling bogged down and uninspired, then I would take that as a sign that maybe you need to start looking elsewhere for the setting, etc.

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  8. That’s a tough question! I think you should do what feels the best right now. If you’re doing research that works for school and your WIP, that’s awesome. More power to you, seriously.

    But if you’re feeling bogged down and uninspired, then I would take that as a sign that maybe you need to start looking elsewhere for the setting, etc.

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