Tag Archives: writing novels

Progress, Quantified


So here’s what’s going on with my current project:

It’s a Superhero story (I’m currently reading Save the Cat, which, if you haven’t read it as a writer, I can only encourage you to pick it up right away, even if you’re not writing screenplays) about a guy in a family of supers who has no powers himself. So he’s a little jaded. When he finally develops an ability of his own, he quickly finds himself at the top of the food chain and sets about a plan to wipe out supers forever.

It’s an idea I love that I kicked around in the ol’ brain for a good couple years before I wrote the first words, and once I did start writing it, it really took on a life of its own, as they say. Lots of twists and turns grew organically out of the thing, which is just one of the measures I use to tell me when an idea is worth pursuing.

And now, as I find myself neck-deep in rewrites and edits, the story is growing out of control like a Mogwai tossed in the deep end of the pool. Every day or two, I have an idea for something I want to add to the story, some twist to throw in the road. Every time I re-read something, the characters seem to be speaking to me: that doesn’t make sense, I should be doing THIS instead.

Gremmy

Playing whack-a-mole with ideas like this is frustrating: obviously not everything that springs to mind can make it to the page. Every widget you add over here throws things out of balance over there, and if you’re not careful, the story will go to pieces trying to accomodate everything. But it’s also encouraging, because it makes every writing session exciting. Every page is Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates; you never know what you’re going to get.

So every day is taxing work — pruning here, shaping here, splicing here, all without end — but it’s also fulfilling and of late, it’s actually been enjoyable. Like I wrote yesterday, the words are coming easier and faster of late. Given the loggerheads I was at with my other project, I’m taking all this as just another sign I’m on the right path, moving in the right direction.

Maybe I’ll even set a deadline, soon.

(I haven’t given myself a deadline in over a year.)

*flies into panic*

*jumps out the window*

This post is part of Stream-of-Consciousness Saturday. Today’s prompt was “the 6th, 7th, and 8th word of the page of the nearest publication. That happened to be “at the top”, from my current read, Otherworld, by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller.

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The Weekly Re-Motivator: The Anchor


So, you’re a writer.

And you have this project.

It’s a project that you’ve had for months, or maybe even years. It’s a project you return to time and time again, when inspiration for other work deserts you or when a bolt from the blue strikes and you just have to, have to, go work on that project again. Maybe it’s your first project, maybe it’s your latest one, maybe it’s a project you started and forgot about and go back to every few months. When your mind goes blank, inevitably your thoughts turn to that one project, and even if you’re not actively working on it, your brain is always bent toward it.

This project is the anchor.

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Like a security blanket, you need this project. It comforts you in times of need, it fills you with nostalgia; even just opening the file (or turning the pages, or unrolling the parchment you scribed it onto, you insane purist) makes you smile. Like a true anchor, this project keeps you moored. Keeps you grounded. Keeps you from getting off course, keeps you true to yourself — or at least true to the self you were when you started the project. Without the anchor project, you wouldn’t be the writer that you are, you wouldn’t write the way you do.

The anchor project is a good thing.

But the anchor project can’t stay forever.

Like a security blanket, it works wonders for you for a while, but eventually, you start to outgrow it. People stare if you’re still dragging it around in public. It gets threadbare and worn-out, and not even functional for its original purpose beyond a point. Like a true anchor, well, it keeps you from drifting off during the storm, but it also keeps you from letting down the sails and exploring the ocean.

Comes a time when you have to cut the anchor loose, when you have to accept the fact that you’ve outgrown it and move on. When you have to drop the anchor and sail out into the wild blue. When you realize that the anchor is not the project that needs your time, your effort, your constant thought anymore.

Accidentally Inspired has been my anchor project since I was in college, which is to say, for about fifteen years. The idea was born in a scriptwriting class in 2002, I expanded it into a full-length play by 2004, when it actually saw production with my old high school. Then I mothballed it for almost a decade, though I always hung onto the idea of turning it into a novel, and there it nested in the depths of my brain, ripening on the vine.

Well, I’ve followed through on that seed of an idea, finally. I wrote the novel. I’ve revised and edited it through several iterations. I’m working on one last edit now.

And somewhere along the road in this last edit, I realized it’s time to cut this anchor loose.

I love this project. I always will. but the longer I keep reworking it, the more I’m neglecting other stories I want to tell, the more I give in to the fear of putting it out there and letting it walk on its own, like a wobbly-kneed colt.

I’ve got about one more month left in this phase of the work, and then it’s time to pull up roots and let this puppy go.

Bittersweet, to be sure, but the time is right. It’s time to move on.

Am I alone in this, or is there an anchor holding you back, too?

This weekly remotivational post is part of Stream of Consciousness Saturday. Every weekend, I use Linda G. Hill’s prompt to refocus my efforts and evaluate my process, sometimes with productive results.


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