What Am I Writing, Anyway?January 24, 2015
I’ve harped about a lot of things on this blog, but I’ve yet to harp on what the hell it is I’m actually writing. So here are all the things I’ve got going right now:
1) This blog! Which I’m enjoying quite a bit. It’s a nice opportunity to reflect on what I’m doing while I’m doing it. I hope reading this eventually helps out someone else who’s trying to do the same thing. And even if I don’t have an official commitment in the form of a mailing list (yet) or an editor, it helps keep me honest.
2) A science fiction novel, possibly a short series depending on how much time the story needs to really develop and to finish solidly. It takes place in our world in the relatively near future (maybe 50 or 100 years into the future), and also has some fantasy-type elements stirred in. The story starts at a boarding school, so most of the main characters are teenagers and children; whether this automatically makes it a “YA” book, I’m not sure. In any case, I consider this my main project, since it’s the one I’ve invested the most total time in, and created the most background information for. However, this has lately taken a back seat to the next item on this list…
3) The work that I’m writing on the bet with Drum: an erotic novella. I have never read romance or erotica, nor have I ever really wanted to be a romance or erotica author; I agreed to do it partly as a teamwork thing with Drum (who actually DOES read and write romance and erotica), and partly because I thought it’d be an interesting and instructive exercise that wouldn’t take too much away from my other projects. Man, was I wrong about that second part — to my total surprise, it’s the most fun thing I’ve ever written, and now it’s completely run away with me. Rather than slapping it up on Amazon just to see what the hell happens, I’m now invested in making it good (and even getting a real cover done for it), and I’m actually kind of hoping it does well.
4) A relationship drama in the modern day. The narrative perspective alternates between six characters, who all used to be best friends until something terrible happened; their telling of the story builds up to the reader finding out what the terrible thing was. This was the first long-term project I started working on when I began writing regularly again, but it’s sort of perplexing, because while I’ve enjoyed writing this one so far, it’s exactly the kind of thing that I hate reading. I do want to finish it (unfinished stories sit in my head like an itch sits on your skin), but because of that disconnect, I don’t feel the same confidence about it that I feel about the other things I’m writing. I haven’t actually picked it up in a few months.
5) Random short stories. Sometimes a little idea that doesn’t fit into any of my other projects just pokes at me until I have to get it out and develop it, and it usually comes out as a short story. Some of these feel very final and finished once they’re down, and some of them feel like the seeds of bigger ideas that I could revisit later. I save them all, regardless. Saving everything I write is actually a new habit, because I’m so self-critical that if I take a second look at something I made and it’s not up to my standards of what it should be, I immediately want to destroy it. Most of what I ever wrote or drew as a kid, I erased or literally tore up myself. I still regret some of the stuff I chucked.
6) Stream-of-consciousness BS. This is what comes out when I go to a coffee shop or a bar to write. Lots of people depend on such settings to get serious writing done, but they rarely work for me for that purpose; I have a lot more trouble focusing on any particular thread for very long. On the other hand, it’s VERY stimulating for new ideas. I almost never produce anything coherent (maybe a poem, or something that reads kind of like a chapter excerpt or an essay), but I usually write at least a few things that are interesting or clever. Please note that by “things” I may mean “sentence fragments.” I’m not gonna tell you I spew nonstop genius every time I sit down with a beer.
I’m also beta-reading Thorn’s book right now, and helping out with another friend (an already published author) and his new thing he’s working on — or, rather, his several new things, because that’s how he does it. Some writers are happiest juggling a bunch of things at once, some prefer to work on only one thing at a time, and others are in the middle. I seem to be settling into a pattern of concentrating on one main thing at a time, with a little bit of work on other things.