Today I’m going to go down a slightly different post path. As the weariness of blogs by writers becomes more and more apparent, I feel the need to talk about what I’m doing as a possible means of clearing the clutter from my brain.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my WIP. That’s a good thing because a few weeks ago all I wanted to do was leave it stuffed in a drawer. I still haven’t brought myself to edit anymore or even continue working on the sequel…but I’m feeling better about moving in that direction.
This morning I drug out my old playlist for memory triggers. One of the problems with leaving a WIP for a while is coming back to it later. Finding the same inspiration you left weeks or months before isn’t a guarantee. Listening to playlists is a sure-fire way back in for me. Granted, that doesn’t mean I’ve started writing yet. Only that I’m walking the path again.
The truth is, novels take so much emotional strength to create–and sometimes I simply run out of it. Staying in a particular mind-set for weeks on end–well, let’s just say consumption isn’t always a good thing.
So after riding that dreaded bike of mine for 10 miles this morning, my brain flooded. Without a prod or push, it flowed freely. That hasn’t happened in a long while. So here it flows, onto this page. And again, I’m being guided by that voice in my head. The one that for over a year refused to shut up. It woke up. Or maybe I did. Either way, I’m closer.
Angus & Julia Stone: Down The Way–The Devil’s Tears
Broken Bells: Broken Bells–The High Road, The Ghost Inside
Silversun Pickups: Swoon–The Royal We, Draining, Catch and Release
A Silent Film: The City That Sleeps–You Will Leave a Mark
Blue Foundation: Life of a Ghost–Stained, Enemy, Talk to Me, Watch You Sleeping, Hero Across the Sky.
Placebo: Running Up That Hill
The Fray: How to Save a Life–Look After You
Washed Out: Life of Leisure–Feel It All Around, New Theory
Temper Trap: Conditions–Sweet Disposition
Just to name a few triggers that helped to unlock the vice this morning.
When does that magical day come? The one when you wake up and a voice inside your head says, “Ok, you’re ready now. Go ahead, publish.”
It’s the bright lights, big city illusion. The day of, “Ah…I’m here!” I’m not sure if that day really exists. For anyone.
I am pretty sure though, that no-one can tell you when you’re ready. No voice wakes you up rattling in your psyche to let loose the magical words. I’m afraid we all need to make the, “I’m ready for this,” decision on our own.
Even the big dogs in the industry had to suck it up and go on submission. Many of which were denied plenty before ever being accepted by publishers. Some of whom, even now and by their own admission, aren’t completely convinced of their talent as writers.
As the self published/ebook revolution comes more and more to the forefront, authors and writers have yet another big decision to make; whether or not to go it alone. No agent, no publishing house, no one there to pat you on the back and validate your work. No one to tell you it’s time to go public and it’ll all be ok. It’s just you and maybe a few paper bags for when the hyperventilation sets in as you hit ‘publish’ on Smashwords.
No longer is creating a query letter the main focus when your novel is finished. No longer are writers inundating agents slush piles left and right. Nope. Now, more and more of us are going it alone. No net. And for a plethora of reasons.
The big city, big lights dream seems to have shifted itself over the past few years. Writers are looking to simply be heard. And now they have the means of doing exactly that. We are in the age of bright lights, small town and about now, I’m thinking most of us are feeling pretty alright with that. We have the means of publishing our work and in the grand scheme of things, I believe that it is the ultimate goal. We all hope to be liked, have our words resonate, but at the end of the day, we also feel the need to just be read.
The rest is just glory.
Because that’s what comes out.
When I began writing I didn’t say, “Hm…I think I should write a young adult novel.” No, I didn’t say anything at all. I just wrote and YA is what came out. Does it matter that I read YA, that I enjoy that genre? Sure it does. But I enjoy a lot of things–it doesn’t mean I write about all of them.
I mentioned a similar idea in my ‘Why Fantasy’ post a few weeks ago. The same stigma occurs in YA, as does in Fantasy. The idea that those who write in these genres do so because they are attempting to ride the giants coat tails. The giants being the big hitters in the YA fantasy/paranormal genre. You know who they are.
But the truth is, when we write, we can’t always control what comes out onto the page. If I were forced to write horror–I could write it. It would likely suck, but I could still write it. I don’t like horror. At All. However, I know of writers who love horror or romance or chick lit–but they don’t write it. Why? Because it’s not their voice. It isn’t what comes out when they sit down at the lap top.
So why YA? Is it your voice? Were you surprised by it? Do you write in multiple genres?
This is when nothing clicks anymore. When your sentences sound awful, your story doesn’t make sense, you can’t think or concentrate. I believe this is writers burn out. This is writers burn out for me.
This is the point when you wonder for the first time if you should ditch it. Dismantle it all. Everything. And call it a day. This is where I am. I hate to admit it. Admitting it makes it real.
This isn’t writers block. This is something completely different, completely foreign.
My novel is still on my mind, new ideas still come to the surface. Some days I jot them down, other days I push them away.
I’m pretty sure this is why blogs disappear, novels go unfinished, talent goes untapped or unseen. This is when writers walk away.
Walking away isn’t my plan.
But I have been putting too much pressure on myself. Listening to too much noise. I suppose it’s part of the process–these revelations of sorts. I hope.
So, I believe the only solution is to leave it be for a while. Take a few more walks, run a little farther–a little faster and try to regain the passion that put me in front of my laptop screen in the first place.
My rewrites are numerous. My ideas…off the chart ridiculous. My scope…? I’m not sure it’s wide enough. And honestly, I’m not sure how to figure it out. I know that sounds stupid. Let me say it this way. I can name any number of my favorite books and point out just where they went right. The reasons the story works and flows. I can name a few other books that all but lose me. Or pick me up and then drop me again. The books that I need more from, more detail, more explanation, more feeling.
I read my book over and over with all the rewrites and editing. Some days, I love it. Other days, I wonder what in the hell? The questioning of my work is what messes me up. Really, I’m fine with that part of the process. The questioning, it’s needed to a point. What I’m not fine with is where to cut it off. When you read your own work so many times, it can feel cluttered and clunky. When I walk away from it for a few days, read it again, I see more hiccups and fix them. Again.
That’s just it. That’s the problem. I could do this same drill for months. I know I could. So when do I leave it the hell alone and know it’s where it needs to be? When I have too many thoughts and ideas at once, my head will likely explode. And I think that’s my issue. Too many ideas. I put my novel down, walk away, come back, read it again and “Hey! I’ve got an idea!” Or worse, “What am I saying??” I don’t know how to turn it off. All this second guessing will likely kill me.
First off…As if I do not have enough hair pulling going on with simply trying write, I have thrown myself into the twitter bowl. If nothing else, it should be entertaining to watch me crash and burn for a few weeks.
On a positive note, writing picked up steam last night and I was not only able to stomach the first 7 again, but actually made some good edits along the way. I’m on the upside of my carousel ride again…I pray it hangs in for a while.
In the earliest stages of my novel–when it was only a stream of ideas, my POV took hold. It wasn’t something I thought about at the time. But I think about it now and why it came so naturally. I wonder how much of me was my protagonist in the beginning. As the story moved and continued to unfold, the characters became a far cry from where they started–who they were, when I started. The personas, voices, thoughts and feelings are distinctly their own now. They are no longer the people I began with and I love that.
I realize that there is a part of me in everything I write. A part of every author is weaved into their landscape, their characters, their stories. In some way, no matter how small, we are what we write. The choices we make, the angles we take, the voices we use–they are all part of who we are. Knowingly or not.
When we write, we create the world, the rules, the behavior and the actions. It is at our command. The possibilities are endless. The ability to change and evolve. The choice to stay the same. But I believe our characters at some point, take over. They have to. They lead us the rest of the way through the journey and to the end. And in that evolution, the real story comes out.
The best idea in the world rarely ends where a writer thinks it will without total manipulation of the characters. Unless we allow them to speak on their own, we can never know the true story. At some point we need to relinquish part of the control and allow ourselves to be led rather than to lead.
(By Shannon9791 via Photobucket)
This is my new mantra. “This isn’t a rush job!” Only I try to say it calmly.
Do you have those days when you wonder if you should scrap it and walk away–or at least toward another project? But then you read a quote or an excerpt and you remember the reason you’re doing this in the first place? Me too.
There is this blind sort of faith that goes along with writing and finishing a novel. A faith you’re putting into the void in hopes that it will return the favor. As much as my mind seems to have taken a hiatus from any useful thoughts in relation to my (should already be finished) novel, I know I’ll never walk away from it. So in that light, I am attempting to acquire a new look on my writing. Slow and steady wins the race and all that.
In the end, what matters is that I don’t walk away, that I do stay focused (even when it seems impossible–even when that means taking a break) and that I don’t rush it. The ups and downs and backs and forths are tiring. And although I have been going back and forth for a year now with this process, somehow it feels more overwhelming than it ever has. I’m trying to convince myself it’s because this is the Final Draft and therefore, MUST be right. Either way, it isn’t a rush job and like I’ve said before, I’d rather be slow and right, than fast and wrong. So…I’ll be taking a break.
It’s here. One year. The date is here. April 19th of 2010, I started my novel. After several rewrites, here I am one year later in the middle of my final draft. When I took on this challenge it was literally without thought or pre-meditation. I sat down and started writing. There was no outline, only a sliver of an idea that I ran with. It’s been an interesting ride to the say the least and beyond rewarding…..and exhausting.
As incredibly gratifying as it would be to eventually become published, that was not the reason I began my novel nor will it be the reason I continue beyond it.
My goal of completion comes closer to reality every day. Until then, I am thankful to have the unwavering dedication to see my novel to fruition. Thanks for everyone’s support and kind words of wisdom and inspiration, they help tremendously and keep my eyes on the prize.
I’m wondering about novel content today. Novel plot really and how it correlates with content. Being a fan of YA Mythology, Fantasy and recently, Paranormal Romance, I’ve wondered about the content of Urban Fantasy and how it relates to these other YA genres. I’m curious to know if readers, generally speaking, appreciate the mix of these elements in a story. For example, a paranormal romance mixed with modern-day crime or fantasy caught up in the big city drug scene. What are your thoughts?
Do they mix or distract from one another? Should the supernatural fantasy world be woven alongside the drug scene or inner city crime of say… New York city? And if they can coexist, what creates the draw? What about these two elements entices you as a reader? Is it the idea that this fantasy world could be ‘real’, or more believable if it was just outside your front door? Or is it the idea that it simply feels more relatable? Or let’s take the opposite approach. Do you hate it when these elements are woven together?