Thursday, 19 September 2013

Reflecting on Challenge

So, it's mid-September, and where am I at with my goal? Not even close.

I completed one round of edits on the (still) incomplete draft, and picked out problem areas that needing smoothing out. I took the draft from 111 pages to 131 pages, which isn't a whole heck of a lot, but it's still a respectable addition to the novel.

So what happened?

All the way back in May (when I was in a funk from getting rejected for multiple jobs), I decided that heck yes I was gonna finish that ever-elusive first novel! I was gonna finish it and edit the ever-loving god out of it and it was going to be spectacular. Was I possibly trying to prove to people who didn't care that I, yes I, was actually better off without working for them?

Maybe a little.

I started working nearly full-time in retail in June, and my personal life suddenly got a lot busier, and I let my project slip away. I haven't stopped thinking about it though, it's still kicking around in my head, waiting. To lay it all out, I want to talk about the challenges that made it easier for me to put off finishing the novel, because I encountered issues I hadn't realised would come up.

1) I hadn't actually read the story from beginning to end (with large plot gaps that needed filling, but regardless) until I sat down to edit it, and then suddenly all sorts of things started jumping out at me that I hadn't realised would be a problem until I did. Obviously, this is supposed to happen, but having all of these problematic things appear on top of trying to fill in narrative gaps was overwhelming. I tried to edit and write at the same time, which everyone will tell you, is one of the worst possible things you can try and do.

2) I started over thinking elements of the story. This ties back into the editing/writing at the same time issue, but it's slightly different. I began to mentally question every facet of the story, from characters to events to overarching themes and then became stuck in a quagmire of doubt and half-baked ideas that didn't amount to much. I lost the over-arching idea of what I wanted to accomplish trying to wade out of the mess I'd created.

3) The reason there had been narrative gaps in the first place were because I hadn't wanted to write the (necessary but slow) scenes in between the exciting drama scenes. The scenes weren't shiny and sexy, but they were important, so I did my best to slog through them, and along the way made them interesting in their own way. I still haven't finished filling in the narrative gaps as we speak, but I want to keep tackling them until I am satisfied with them and sure they won't put people to sleep.

4) I started flirting with other ideas, for other narratives that were new and sparkly and had promises of being easy and fun to write that made my current project seem....dull. As you shouldn't cheat on relationships, cheating on writing projects is equally as terrible an idea.

So what's next?

Well, I haven't given up. I'm still going to put in time to finish this novel. I'm not putting a date on it though, because deadlines I set myself don't actually do much to motivate me. I'm also going to attempt NaNoWriMo again this year in November, (with a shiny new plot), to get myself back into a writing groove. I'm going to keep writing blog posts of random things that occur to me, and I'm going to keep writing.

Because if nothing else, I will always be a writer, even if I'm not an author.