It’s never fun to be called out, but that’s just what’s happened to me.
But, the thing I’m being called out about really does need to be called out, and addressed. In fact, I can’t progress on my writer’s journey if I don’t address it.
No two ways about it, I’m guilty of the accusations. GUILTY, I say.
That thing is…
It could also be labeled procrastination, or avoidance. But the summation remains the same: I’ve managed for weeks to find reasons, some of which are legitimate-sounding and logical-seeming, to avoid getting on with the rewrite of a project.
You’ve seen me bellyache about this before, numerous times, in various posts. I won’t try to find them to link to, they’re in there if you want to dig. I have to rewrite book one of my current (and right now, only) series before I can release the book I just finished as book two. No way book two will work as book one, and no way to rework book two so it can become book one. I don’t want that anyway.
I wrote the original, seminal story back in 2007. It started, actually, as an idea to strengthen dialog. I wanted a way to make three characters sound distinct from each other, with their own voices, and minimize the use of speaker tags. To that end I created a setting where there would be a lot of talking.
I’ve read other writers who do this – write a lot of talking head scenes. They like writing those things. It’s fun, but it’s not the thing we should put in front of readers. It’s practice. Yeah, practice – writers have to practice. Or they get rusty. Guess how I know that?
But my wife, bless her heart, decided she wanted to encourage me to keep it going. It grew into a short story. Then an online serial. Finally it ended, and somewhere in there, I got the bright idea I should turn it into a book. So I tried to do that, and it kept falling over, starting from the very first round of edits in September of 2008.
I finished writing it in November of 2007. But because I bought into the myth of traditional publishing that we shouldn’t edit our work until at least six months have passed, it sat unattended on my computer. Then I started the edits, and I got fairly deep into it when disaster struck.
Pro tip: Never use a thumb drive to store your working manuscript, ever. If you read and write to them enough times, they fail. Guess how I know that?
So, I lost it all in a blink. I had only the first part of my “edits” (which really were just adverb-replacement and spell check things), and my “first draft.” Everything else vanished into the electronic ether.
I’ve taken a few runs at reworking the original draft over the years. I gutted it once in anger over something I can’t even recall right now, and then I tried a gentler touch again, and then I thought, “how bad can it be? Maybe I’ll listen to my wife and just throw it out there as it is.”
See, a few people liked it the way it was, warts and all. But I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. It’s too amateur, too hacky, and I can’t believe I even asked a few friends to read it and offer critique. (Which I never took well; I had a very thin skin in those days. I feel bad about it now.)
But the latest consensus between my wife and I is, it should probably be rewritten. Not reworked, not salvaged, not revamped…rewritten, from the very beginning.
But…I just can’t bring myself to get going on it. I just…can’t.
My creative voice long ago declared this story done. I’ve forced myself to go back into it many times, but my creative side simply shrugs and says, Eh. We already wrote that story. Next. Nothing I do can make it break loose and see this as a fresh subject, a new story. So it doesn’t go anywhere.
I simply loathe the idea of rewriting this thing. And it’s not the only project.
I could use a fix-up to the ending of the next long story I finished back in 2011, too. I choked on the end, though I got good general feedback on the book from people whose opinions I trust. But I got a review on Amazon – which was removed for some reason – and it changed how I looked at the book and the ending. I wanted to fix it. I just never have.
And when I think of the effort it will take to step into the book and find the right place to change directions, I get downright sleepy. (Literally; a weird phenomenon. I’ll talk about it some other time.)
Meanwhile, I’m not moving forward and I’m letting this rewrite stop me.
So that’s what I’ve been called out about. The stalling, the procrastinating, the avoidance of doing something I know I need to do. I need to. This is holding back…well, everything.
It’s funny, because I should use the Writing into the Dark method to avoid all of the trappings of rewriting something I’ve written and reworked so many times. It would be a new story, leaping from a fresh start point, to see where it goes. The only thing I need to maintain are the three main characters and one other actor whose role is important in subsequent books, but isn’t a central character.
This is the ideal situation for WitD. I mean, perfect. (Okay, it’s perfect for me for new stories too, but it offers solutions to all the problems my creative voice has with rewriting. I’m not rewriting. I’m just writing…it’s brand new.)
So what’s the problem?
Heck if I know. Seriously, I have no clue. But I know if I don’t overcome this, take one last swipe at this, the whole series will break down and go nowhere, languish forever on my hard drive, and I’ll never be able to look myself in the mirror and see a writer. I’ll see someone who just can’t get it done when the chips are down.
I don’t want that.
And that’s the impasse.