A few topics before I begin:
The Writing Prompt thing from Reddit hasn’t gone as well as I hoped it would. Most of the prompts that come through are very extreme. To me, unusable. I’ll continue to do them as I find prompts that interest me, but I’m not going to force myself to meet any kind of quota. I still really enjoy the flash fiction format, and it’s great practice, so I’ll keep churning stories out as I can.
Another small drought has struck the webpage. My cycles continue. Obviously, my recent vacation had an impact, as well as working and a small cold and life in gengeral. I’ll try to get back to two a week.
I wrote recently about being near the beach and how it made me feel. Those feelings have me questioning a lot about my life in general. I don’t want to get into specifics, but I seem to be entering a mini-midlife crisis. I’ll likely not address that here, as I don’t have a desire to talk about personal issues on this website. This isn’t a blog. I’ll do some Random Ramblings here and there (like now), but this is site primarily exists for fictional writing.
Now on to the main point, one that does relate to writing.
I’m sort of stuck.
I’m about halfway through my book, a horror story about a man buying a house that is haunted, his living in that house despite the haunting and how it tears down his life. I’m pretty happy with the fact that I’m half way through. That’s a positive thing. However, I’ve stalled pretty hard even though I have the rest of the story complete in my head. I’m trying to identify why I’ve stalled. I have a small list of suspects.
Laziness is the front-runner.
Fear of failure is a close second.
Fear of success seems to be a distant third behind those two, but I don’t know how true that is.
Lack of discipline is hot on the heels of third place.
I’ve never written a book before. It’s a process I’m learning, and I am learning it. Everyone operates differently, and no matter how many books you read on how to complete a novel, there isn’t a formula that works for everyone. I’m beginning to find the strengths and weaknesses in my process. The big one is that I now know I need to have a very thorough level of knowledge about my characters, setting, story, etc. I need to know everything, even things that won’t be put into the story, in order to write at the level I wish to be at. My ghost story is not at that level.
A tricky twist to that need is that I love writing more than all other aspects. Above editing, creating characters, building the back story. All of it. I want to sit and write and not much else. I imagine this is why I enjoy the flash fiction format so much.
But sitting and writing, while important, simply isn’t enough. A great story requires texture and turns and layers upon layers to make the characters feel real, the plot interesting, and to set an appropriate pace from scene to scene. While it may be possible for some, I cannot simply sit and write and create a story from scratch with that kind of intricacy. Being the normal mortal that I am, I have to put in the work to develop the background of the story first.
Which brings me to my problem. I have a book that is halfway completed, but doesn’t really meet the standard I want. It’s not bad, but it’s not that great either. I’d honestly call it solid. I’ve also spent so much time dragging my feet over the thing that I’ve lost some interest in the story as well. I’ve known how it all plays out in my mind for so long, I’ve become a little bored with it. Also, since I’ve been working on it for so long, my writing has improved somewhat during that time. While a good thing, when I look back at some of the chapters, I don’t feel as positive about them as I did before.
So I start over, right? Move on? Get working on the next project.
Yes. But then I’m breaking one of the cardinal rules about writing.
Finish what you write (yet to be checked)
I’ve worked on a couple of projects for myself over the years, always with the intention of self-publishing upon completion, but I’ve never completed. I did finish a novella, but it wasn’t very well written so I did nothing with it. It was rather odd and had no background planning of any kind. It was written from scratch and it shows. Good practice, but ineffective story telling.
So my conundrum is this: Spend a lot of time reworking an old project that I’ve grown bored with, or move on to an entirely new story and start from the beginning with a clearer understanding of what I need to set myself up for success. Half of me says it’s important to finish what I’ve started (true), and the other half says it’s important I put my best effort into a project I intend to self-publish (also true). With the amount of effort the current story would need to come up to par, starting something new would be an equal amount of work.
And all of this ties into my mini-midlife crisis and the goals I have for my own life.
What all this rambling amounts to, honestly, is that I’m pretty fuckin’ normal. I’d wager most of my money that almost every writer has been through this kind of scenario before, and I’d also wager there are two types of outcomes. Those that made a decision and continued on, and those that quit.
My desire is to continue on. And my decision, with absolute certainty and no reservation, is to put the current project aside and begin on something new.
Well… maybe 😛