Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Sincerest Thanks for the Comments!

Yes, it's "struggle time", when in spite of the best intentions it becomes difficult to make much or even any progress. I really appreciate the recent comments. Just knowing others out there understand helps somehow. I always appreciate any words of encouragement. They really do make a difference and help me manage to push on when that's about the last thing I seem to be able to do.

To help get my creative juices flowing, yesterday I spent a couple of hours doing some initial planning work for another novel, which I'll refer to as the SCI-FI NOVEL. I'm excited about that story, always have been since I first thought of it a few years ago. I was able to work out a twelve-step outline with ease and with depth and breadth of vision. It's a first-rate outline and I had such great clarity of vision while creating it, able to see details as needed to understand all the main anchor points and the flow of each of the acts, how each builds to its own climax and how they build on top of each other to the final climax. It's a rich story idea full of possibilities. Working on that showed me yet again how I am learning so much and growing so quickly. Each time I sit down to to that type of work I have a strength I bring to it that surpasses anything I've ever been capable of before. By applying the same process over and over, I'm getting good at it and the pieces just fall into place. Doing this work helped me revive a sense that I can accomplish something.

I've found it very difficult the past couple of weeks to make progress with my current novel, HARRY VS. THE TRUCK. The work is essentially stalled about 20% into the first draft. Struggling enough with this, I finally got to the point in the past few days where I was ready to sit down and problem-solve and try to find some solutions. I applied my own advice for handling writer's block (see my posting on Phase Two: Writing the Novel, in my TIPS & TRICKS blog). Writer's block is something I only occasionally suffer from, and usually not to any great extent. The basic solution that applies here is simply to make a list of questions that are unanswered. What do I need to know in order to continue? Usually it's about story issues. The idea is to bring your unanswered questions into focus and find answers for them, clearing the way to build on that information and continue the story. In this particular instance, I really have only one question and it does not relate directly to plot details. I came up with two answers:

THE QUESTION: "Why am I finding it so hard to write this story at this time?"

1. A part of me wants to finish editing my last novel, THE REFLECTING STONE, so I can start shopping it around to publishers and agents, before I will be willing to invest too much emotionally in another novel.

2. This new story deals with some heavy subject matter that I find too depressing to write about at a time when I'd rather be enjoying the beautiful summer.

My plan had been to quickly write a complete first draft of the new novel, then get back right away to THE REFLECTING STONE to edit it. I had hoped to be at least half-way through the new novel by now. If there is still a chance of getting on a roll with it and finishing it within July, I would be willing to continue to try to do so.

The second issue is not one that I foresaw. I knew the story of HARRY VS. THE TRUCK, but I did not realize going into it that it would have such an effect on me. I haven't posted any details about the story, and don't want to give the story away any by commenting on it. As I have posted, it's ultimately one with a positive message and the characters manage okay, but there are some dark and difficult things for the main character to wade through, particularly in the early chapters. I think although it is not my story (I don't write autobiographical fiction), it is a story that resonates too much with my own life, and with the realities that many of us face, and as such it's one that evokes a strong emotional response in me as I work on it, moreso than THE REFLECTING STONE or the SCI-FI NOVEL that I just did some planning work on. Every story I think of connects with reality, no matter how fantastic the story line. Some just hit home a little more than others.

At this point, I have to decide whether to set HARRY aside and get back to work on THE REFLECTING STONE, completing the editing of it before resuming work on HARRY, or to continue to try to finish the first draft of HARRY within the next few weeks. I think I'll give it one last try, and if it "ain't happenin" soon, then I'll make that switch. I do want to write HARRY, and feel it's a worthwhile story, but it may be one to work on during the winter or something. Perhaps letting it sit will allow me to make my peace with it, and when I return to it I'll fare better. It's tough enough to manage the ups and downs which are inherent to the writing process without also having to navigate such difficult emotional terrain of a story that is itself troubling. This is why I chose THE REFLECTING STONE: I knew I did not have strong emotions tied to it, and that I would be able to look at the story and the process of writing it more objectively because of that fact. The SCI-FI NOVEL is another one like THE REFLECTING STONE as far as I know. A fun and interesting story with lots of potential. Although there are meaningful issues that underpin it, they aren't ones that stir such deep emotions in me. Perhaps if I edit the STONE then I can write the SCI-FI NOVEL and get back to HARRY after some months have gone by.

But, before making that decision final, I'll give HARRY one final try.

Thanks again for the words of encouragement. They really do help.



Debra Young said...

Sometimes when we've invested time and our hearts in a novel, guilt makes us hold on to it even when we know the best thing is to let it go for the time being. It's like having grabbed hold of an electric current. There you are, held in place when you'd rather let go.

After you've given it one more try, one more time, you have to give yourself permission to set it aside. It's not like you're never going back to it, but sometimes a certain novel must "age", must simmer in your subconscious mind until you're ready to write it, until you can deal with the pain of writing it.

Don't cripple yourself fighting with this novel; give it another try, and then let it go and work on THE REVLECTING STONE. The HARRY novel will be there for you when you're ready for it. d:)

Adrian Swift said...

Excellent, wise advice! Thank you for sharing it with me.