Prosaic Analysis Paralysis

In which I think aloud for a few paragraphs… pardon the navel gazing.

The burden of words. It’s quite something, I tell you. And at the moment I’m finding it to be on the verge of utterly overwhelming. I have all these stories, all these books and novels and ideas, and instead of a calm, steady stream (the way I’ve written for the better part of the last five years) it’s a frozen lake. A frozen lake filled with strange faces and whispers under the icy surface, all jumbled together, staring at me, challenging me.

And I’ve got analysis paralysis. I have too much to work on, so much so that I just don’t know what to write. Those ideas, all frozen there beneath the surface, they taunt me. Snippets of one story, the challenge of another, the feeling that I don’t want to abandon this one or that one. I can’t call it writer’s block, because it certainly isn’t that I have nothing to write. It’s the entire opposite. I have a glut of words and possibilities and I just don’t know what the heck to do. The noise of it all is intense.

Glassmere was supposed to be my focus. Working full time instead of freelance has changed my writing habits, but not that much; I’ve always been an evening writer, though those evenings are shorter than they used to be. Time isn’t my problem. Brain noise and the challenge of this book is. Glassmere is very personal, and for that reason it’s very hard to write, and I keep wondering if I’m just not up for the challenge of it, if it’s not yet time for me to write it. I want the story to be told, but so far it’s been something like 15,000 words of writing and rewriting, and I’m tired of trying to wrestle it into submission. It’s honestly exhausting.

Then there’s Indigo & Ink. I have to rewrite the whole thing. The. Whole. Thing. There’s just no way around it, and I have to admit my pride has been shaken in this instance. While I was writing it I really thought it was The Best Thing Ever. But now, after other eyes have seen it and I’ve had a chance to go through it, all I see is where it’s lacking, wanting.

Its cousin, The Ward of the Rose is the sequel to The Aldersgate. But this is problematic twofold. I want to revise The Aldersgate, and I can’t finish Ward until it’s revised and fixed. I wouldn’t even be considering revising The Aldersgate if it hadn’t been for a bunch of folks stumbling upon my podcast and demanding the sequel (nicely). I should have written the second book a long time ago, but well, you’ve already heard that saga.

Which is all not to mention other books prickling at the back of my mind. Heroic fantasy, Arthurian re-tellings. Finished books, in those two cases, but also in need of revision like whoa. And that’s not even to talk about Herald of the Morn, the sequel to Pilgrim of the Sky which is, basically, candy and easy to write and, in general, makes me feel guilty because I have so many unfinished things I should be working on. Or, also, The Gnome and the Necromancer which is decent for YA, and is also a candy book.

I know I’m not perfect. I’m acutely aware of my shortcomings as a writer, as I think we all must be in order to improve. But for some reason in the last few months I’ve felt as if the wind has gone out of my sails in terms of my own confidence. I’m thinking way too much about what I’m writing (whether it’s a period piece and I’m freaking out about language, fashion, and culture, or it’s a secondary world and I’m freaking out about pacing and style and magic). I wrote about confidence before, but I thought I had a handle on it. Yet the word count for the year tells me otherwise. The magic of previous years just isn’t there right now, and I know 90% of it is totally me.

So these are my questions I’ve been asking. Because at this point, I’ve got to dig deeper than prose. I’ve got to go ice fishing in this freezing lake and see what bites, what takes hold, and ultimately what ends up a meal, not a long day of sitting and waiting.

What makes most sense to work on from a “career” standpoint? Well, clearly Herald of the Morn is a book that’s a followup to something that’s actually being published. So, that sounds pretty smart. However, it’s a sequel and that assumes a certain amount of audience participation across the board, and that’s all risky. Gnome is definitely the most marketable (UF, YA), but is it me? No clear answer there.

What do I want to write the most? I keep telling myself that Glassmere is that answer, but I think the water’s too murky in this case. I’m exceptionally self-conscious as I write this. Wharton-influenced manor house “through the lookinglass” fantasy? Yes, absolutely I want to read this book. This is the sort of book I would love to read. But will anyone else give a crap? So even though the answer is clear on that count, I’m not sure it’s the best decision.

What do other people want me to write? Success wise I’ve reached more people with The Aldersgate than anything. And I keep getting reminders that people want to read it and its followup.

What makes me happy? Writing makes me happy. Falling in love makes me happy. Falling in love with the world and the characters and the story. Being so wrapped up in the story that the whole world vibrates with it, that every whisper and strain of music takes you there. I had that with Indigo & Ink, due in no small part to the fact that I’m a little in love with Ash Malcom and I do think with some restructuring he can really hold up the majority of the book.

Seriously, I’m almost at the point where I just want to chart all this crap out and CHOOSE SOMETHING. Because my approach for the last few weeks of writing 500-1000 words in any one of these projects and bouncing around is really not going to be good for the long haul.

Wondering if any of you out there have had similar experiences. Little time, lots of words. What helped you get through? What got your mojo back? A few considerations include: getting some readers for one of these projects and promising to keep up with revised/new work (read: accountability), tossing everything out and starting a new project, submitting a few things so at least I don’t think about them for a while, or possibly taking a break and just working on short stories for a while.

NaNoWriMo: Thoughts on What it Means

I’ve read my share of NaNoWriMo arguments, dissenters espousing the uselessness of the event — always very happy to point out that 50K does not a novel make, that the end product is not a true novel (let alone in good enough condition to share with the world at large) and, of course, if you really want to be a writer you don’t need an event to get you to do it.

To some extent, I agree with them. I think, in some cases, writers use NaNoWriMo as the be-all end-all, approaching it with the mentality that, if they “win” they would then be A True Writer with a True Book. This is simply not the case. 50K, unless you’re writing for a younger market, is about 1/2 to 2/3 of a novel in most genres. And chances are, once you’re done with that mad dash after November 30, by the end of the event what you’ve got in your hands is not going to be anything near a finished novel. In fact, it’ll probably be less than a Draft Zero. And it’s certainly not something you should even consider querying! (But people do… heavens knows people still do.)

But that’s not to say that the exercise isn’t important. In 2008 I participated in my first NaNoWriMo, after the insistence for years by my husband. I’d never had trouble writing novels, so I didn’t think I needed to do something like NaNoWriMo. I mean, what was the point?

The point was not the actual production of words. The point was producing words on a schedule. 1500 words, do or die. Like a professional writer. Getting on that schedule, proving to myself that I could start a totally different project in the middle of working on my Big Fat Steampunk Epic was truly eye-opening. I didn’t have to be bogged down by one story; I didn’t have to write on whims. I could actually do it, day in and day out. That was always the biggest road block for me.

Last year, I didn’t do NaNoWriMo. The biggest reason? Well, in the year between I’d written so much that was in need of editing that writing another 50K, in anything, just didn’t seem like a good choice.

And as exciting as NaNoWriMo is, it’s not for everyone. Sometimes the timing doesn’t work out right. Especially if you’re no longer in the aspiring writer category — things can get much more complicated.

This year the timing is right. I’ve been saving this idea for a situation just like this. Before the carpal tunnel incidence of early 2010, and all the surgery and crazy stuff this year, I was writing an average of 2K a day. Now, it’s less than that — but I’ve still managed to write one book and sell another this year (Pilgrim of the Sky started out as a 50K draft on my first NaNoWriMo, after all). I really need to get back into the groove, albeit on an ergonomic keyboard and PC of all things.

And even if you can’t do NaNoWriMo to the max, even if 50K is impossible, you should at least join up for the community. Because writing with other writers, well, that’s really one of the benefits of the event: linking up with other writers online and on Twitter and Facebook, and having accountability for what you’re writing. We too often write in the dark, and for many of us, anyway, letting others a window into that process can really be the kick in the pants you need. At least, so it was for me.

And so, as we hit the final day before the craziness starts: good look to all!

The Gnome and the Necromancer

With the month of November looming, it’s time to consider NaNoWriMo. Last year it was NaNoEdMo for me, as I was busy doing edits on Queen of None.  But this year,  I haven’t been writing much at all since I finished Indigo & Ink, and figured I could use November to focus. Edits on Pilgrim of the Sky aren’t due until early 2011, after all. Things have been… well, meh in a lot of ways, and I’m seriously in need of some writing therapy. Not to mention, it’s really fun being involved in something creative with a group of awesome friends.

So: enter The Gnome and the Necromancer. This is a departure for me. For one, it’s Urban Fantasy, and takes place in the modern day, here in our world, and not in a secondary world where the rules don’t apply. It’s also YA, the main character, Ruby, being all of fourteen. The other MC is a gnome, for lack of a better term, who is a professional kidnapper. He’s supposed to steal magical children and bring them to his side of the world, but he sort of slips up in Ruby’s case, and she ends up unleashing her powers inadvertently on our world.

Anyway, here’s the synopsis:

Ruby Benson is fourteen, and her life couldn’t be worse. Or so she thinks. When her cousin Calvin passes away in a tragic car accident at the age of sixteen, she accidentally brings back his soul from the Underworld: into her corgi. Her inadvertent magic spell triggers the Changeling Court, who realize–for the first time since her birth–that she was not taken as a baby, as she should have been.

Talfryn Windwake, the changeling gnome in charge of her case, gets sent back to Ruby’s side of the world to retrieve her. He expects the transition to go smoothly: after all, aside from not taking her when he should have fourteen years ago, he’s got a perfect record. But Ruby isn’t going down without a fight. As Talfryn struggles to redeem himself after his unforgivable error, Ruby must come to grips with her new abilities, and decide whether or not she wants to trade her old life for a new one… the life she should have had in the first place.

A bit more marketable? Perhaps. Nothing wrong with that, I don’t think. But it’s going to be both lighthearted and sad at times. Themes of death, loss, love, duty… you know, those sorts of things. And shorter. Hopefully no more than 65-70K, which should work well for the genre and the time!

Anyway: if you’re doing NaNoWiMo this year, feel free to friend me! You can find my page here!