Monday, March 10, 2008

On Writing Again

It feels good to be writing again, even if I am essentially wandering through the desert of words, searching for hidden plot oases, and stumbling upon innumerable mirages along the way. Right now, I’m approximately three chapters in, and my process appears to have two-steps. Step One: Write in a flurry Sunday night until a chapter is written. Step Two: spend the rest of the week trying to figure out what the hell happens next. Given that my chapters are extraordinarily short (about 2,000 words), and that I’m shooting for about 70,000 total, I should be done in a mere 32 weeks. Wow. When I crest 10k, I might even invest in a word meter. Fancy!

So, you’re all likely not wondering how I managed to get out of my prior writing funk and got geared up to go again. I will tell you-- the biggest thing for me came from removing the pressure. I had been pushing myself hard to break into the short-story market, and each time I hit a success, I would just push myself even harder. Nothing I wrote, none of my ideas made me happy. And writing in general didn’t make me happy. I wanted to be “there” so badly that I wasn’t focused on the work.

Sometime around mid-January, I got a very nice but still devastating rejection for a story of my from Talebones, where it had been on hold for some time… it was a “near miss” for one of my best story, which has received several of those (including one from Writers of the Future.) I got a little depressed-- it seemed I was just getting tons of so-close-but-yet-so-fars, and it really frustrated me thinking that maybe if Jim Van Pelt hadn’t been such a good writer, I might be out there right now! And then it occurred to me that I didn’t want to do this anymore.

Not writing, but writing for publication. And by that I don’t mean attempting to get my writing published, I mean attempting to write things that are publishable, at least in the short fiction market. My motivation to publish had gotten out of control, and the constant stream of rejections that are the incident of short fiction writing wasn’t helping. It was squashing my ability to write at all. But I still wanted to be published. And I certainly still wanted to write.

So here’s what I did: I put a moratorium on short story submissions. Nothing can go out for at least six months. Then I decided to write a novel, if the story idea came, and I decided that I wouldn’t write it for publication. I have gathered from many folks that their first novel didn’t sell, and this makes a lot of sense to me: my first short story didn’t sell, and wasn’t even close to selling. You have to go around the block at least once to learn the form. So that’s what this guy is all about. And once I set the ground rules, presto-bango, the story came!

That said, I’m very excited about the idea, and can’t wait to see where it goes. It’s nice to have that feeling again. It’s a young adult, probably due to all the YA I’ve been reading to stay in touch with Carrie’s market. I never considered YA to be my thing, and this very well may not stay that way, but the idea just didn’t quite click until I imagined it that way. We’ll see what happens-- frankly, my goal right now is to do the best I can on this one, but primarily just to figure out what long-form writing is all about. Wish me luck!