What Conflict? (Mary Strand)

This month at YA Outside the Lines, we’re talking about conflict in writing ... at least for those who are good at following assignments.

In a novel, conflict is when a character wants something, and someone or something is standing in the way. Conflict drives a novel: it provides the excitement to the reader of trying to figure out how on earth the character can get past all those obstacles.

Real life is also filled with conflict. Hoo, boy.

For instance, my fellow bloggers at YA Outside the Lines probably want me, for once in my life, to actually follow the blog assignment. I blithely stand in their way.

(Greetings, fellow bloggers!)

I'm writing this blog 10 days before it posts on April 6. On April 6, knock on wood, I'll be in Belfast, listening that evening to the Belfast Cowboys, a Minneapolis band playing for the first time that weekend in their namesake city.

I see no conflict at all in that. :-)

I do often think most of my life is full of conflict, though. I want to accomplish a million things, but something keeps standing in the way. But really, what stands in the way?

My bed, for starters. Between Wordle and Connections (curse you, Connections) and Duolingo (four languages!) and Sum-Doku and my current game app vices (here's looking at you, Royal Match and Traffic Escape) and DOOM SCROLLING, especially on Facebook, I've been struggling for a while now to get off my phone and out of bed in the morning. Every single day of the week.

I think it's because I have WAY too many things on my to-do list, even on weekends, and I dread doing them. When I do eventually get out of bed, I know I'll often be at my computer or on my guitar until 9pm or later, still working. Or I'm playing a gig, rehearsing, going to a friend's gig, etc. A few friends have asked (complained) about the fact that I don't go out "just for fun" as much anymore. A few (obviously deranged) friends have actually said that I can write books or songs or play guitar ANY time, since practicing law was an "actual" job and I now just have a couple of hobbies. (ha ha ha ha ha!) No, I now have two full-time jobs. And you are indeed a ninny.

So, yeah, my conflicts include people who tell me I have a life of leisure.

As you're reading this, though, I'm hopefully in Belfast, NOT hanging out in bed way too long in the morning, because my to-do list (if I wrote it out, which I won't) will be something like "run around Belfast, find a good pub, find any Derry Girls sights I possibly can, and catch the Belfast Cowboys at the Black Box." No conflicts whatsoever.

But when I return home from Europe, I'm going to think more about this blog and work on finding a life with less conflict, less time wasted on my phone in bed in the morning as I dread my day, and maybe even a few evenings a week in which I truly live.

Wish me luck.

Mary Strand is the author of Pride, Prejudice, and Push-Up Bras and three other novels in the Bennet Sisters YA series. You can find out more about her books and music at marystrand.com.


  1. That sums up all story--and life!--I want to accomplish certain goals, but something stands in my way...

    1. Ain't it the truth! :-) But I'm back from vacation now and determined to turn this ship around!

  2. I'm late with my comment, but I have no conflict with this post (G).


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