I’ll admit to being exhausted lately. (One shouldn’t wake up more exhausted then one went to bed. But, this is my life and that can be status quo normal.) And I’ve been feeling like Scrat the Squirrel when it comes to both my writing and my current portfolio project.
Being tired, I went back and read a bunch of old drawer novel (what others might call fan fiction) and when I got to the end of where I’d written (somewhere 2/3 of the way through the third book) I read my notes and was somewhat sad that I couldn’t remember exactly where or what I was going to do with it. (And also sad that the premise is so stuck in this certain fandom that I can’t simply find and replace names and turn it into something salable.)
These first few novels (before I got to depressing point A and thusly got stuck and then got distracted by the Lone Prospect and the fun that biker werewolves) were the first real stories to me that proved I could write a novel with conflict, plot and a beginning and an end. The whole thing was supposed to be up to at least four or five novels before you got to the main bad guy that started the whole ruckus.) I learned a lot while writing it.
I learned about conflict. For a very long time, I had a very hard time putting conflict into my stories. Conflict is stressful even in the imagination. I felt greatly stressed and didn’t desire to put stress into my fun time pretend escape, aka writing. Thus, a lot of my old stories are really long, have no real plot or stakes and thus get really boring! Sadness. Stories need stakes. They need the characters to be stressed about something and to have a portion of themselves on the line. Getting over this hump was huge for me.
I learned about research. The world for this fandom is huge, it’s been rebooted multiple times, it has alternate canons, comics, television shows, movies and there is simple a ton of information that even dedicated hard core fans may or may not know. And I wanted to address some of the issues I saw in the main portion of the universe that I played in that had glaring plot holes, but first I needed to look into the rest of the universe to see what or who was already there. Then, I needed to research the actual area and learned a lot about things like police precincts and gun laws and the insanity that is the foster system and rhythmic gymnastics.
Now I do this research stuff without even thinking about it.
I learned about descriptions. Before writing this novel, I wasn’t really great at descriptions. I favored leaving them out rather than having to fuss around with something that may or may not be important. (Because people glomp onto the strangest tiny details and that drives me nuts. No. That wasn’t significant! It was there so you could see it in your head. Oh for fuck’s sake!) But I was putting in a bunch of characters that people didn’t know and creating new ones. (Police procedural buddy cops for the win.) I couldn’t be lazy. I had to describe things! And it’d be silly only to describe the new things (and really obvious). So, I needed to describe what people already knew as well.
I learned that I could finish something long. You’re going. “Ginny, you left off 2/3 of the way through the 3rd section of the story. How is that finishing things?” You missed the point. I finished 2 novel length stories with clear beginnings and endings. I had plots and subplots. I completed something! I could create something of a novel length that was finished and whole with a plot and everything! Maybe, maybe I could actually do this!
When you’re at the Scrat carrying a coconut stage and have tons of stories in progress and you feel like drowning. Finishing something, anything is a major relief and accomplishment! Relax. Celebrate. Eat Gelato, Ice Cream, Sorbet! Order a damn pizza! Do a funky dance. You’ve won this minor war. You finished something! Go you! Or me.
I learned more about my writing. I’d known for a very long time that I was good at dialogue, that I enjoyed writing romantic comedies. I didn’t know that in order to actual finish something I needed to throw in an explosion, a gun fight and some old one two action adventure fisticuffs. I didn’t know that I wasn’t that bad at description, just lazy. The concept of purple prose was terrifying and I never wanted to stray into that rabbit hole! Then, I tried it and realized that purple prose makes my brain itch and if I have a thesaurus to hand it’s because I’ve used that word five times already or it’s not quite the right word I want!
Old writing is useful. So, despite feeling like Scrat trying to shove his acorn places it just doesn’t belong, I know that I’ll get through this. I’ll figure out how to get my brain away from world building a new series through yet more drawer fic (hindu based stuff, much fun is being had but Dawn Princess languishes) and figure out how to present my next portfolio project (good vs. evil, my usual style of showing by groups isn’t working) and you know store that acorn in a hollow tree where it belongs. I’ve done it before. I can do it again.
Just stay positive.