While my writing buddy Lisa Silverthorne is playing completely by the rules by posting her Dare progress every day—I’ve been a horrible slacker, just plunking words down and not doing the needful here. Yes, I suck.
On the plus side, I am moving forward.
The story is at just under 25,000 words now. Today was a “good” day, but due to the negative word thing that Lisa has talked about on occasion in her updates, positive movement in that sense was effectively zero. I mean, I guess I’ll count it as +100 words or so, and leave it at that. Still, that’s the thing about a Dare vs. a NanoWriMo, you know? As I noted in the opening of this thing, my goal is to tell a story rather than just create a bunch of words. At issue today is that I decided I needed to go in a bit of a different direction that I was headed, and so I went back.
Technically, the words I dropped out aren’t gone—meaning there’s some chance that a part of the bits that hit the cutting room floor will make their way back into the mix. In particular there’s a bit about a kid prospect that I like a lot, but that doesn’t have a place where I had it. So, there’s a chance that 700 or so of the words I cut there might find their way back in. Or not.
Kill your Darlings, they always say. But I also choose to remember them fondly.
Bottom line, though, this is still a danged fun book to write. Probably about what I needed. It’s a light-hearted book that has a voice that borders on pulp fiction in places, and so every time I get to feeling bogged down, I remind myself to lighten up just have fun with the characters, and suddenly things look up.
I admit that I’m getting pumped reading Lisa’s updates, too, though every time I read one they remind me I’ve got to hold up my end of the bargain better.
A couple weeks ago, Kris Rusch wrote a great blog post on critical voice, expanding the concept in ways that make a lot of sense to me. I’ve been thinking about it on and off since then, specifically, of course, about how it applies to my own situation writing book seven of my SF series. And at the same time I’m remembering hearing Nnedi Okorafor talk about her own process, in which a single book might take a year or two, but in which she always has a bunch of projects going at once, so when she hits a book that isn’t ready to come out yet, she just moves to a different project and keeps on. She explains that she’s not blocked, but that she’s just staying busy while the rest of that story comes along.
I used to do that all the time.
It’s probably why I used to say I didn’t believe in writer’s block.
I do, however, now believe in what some people call writers block, but in reality I think it’s more related to what Kris is talking about in her critical voice post. Beating yourself up about not getting as much done as you think you should is not more than a stone’s thrown away from getting mad at yourself for beating your head on a project that isn’t ready to come out of you yet (or maybe that you just don’t want to write at the moment). Both of them are great ways to make writing become no fun. And that’s a problem. I’ve said before that so much of this writing game is just keeping yourself in an emotional place where you can always do your best work, you know? Maybe that’s my proposal here: that writer’s block is really “just” that you’ve let yourself get to the point where doing the work is painful.
Does that make sense?
Well. Yeah. It does to me, anyway, and this is my little place of the internet, so what I say kinda goes, doesn’t it?
My critical voice was on my butt about not being happy with book seven, you see? And that made me unhappy about myself, which made picking up book seven a chore, which slowed my progress, which made my critical voice sharper, which made me question the work, which made me unhappy with the work, which …
Lather, rinse, repeat.
Yes, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Regardless, writing this book—which I’ve tentatively titled A Hole in Center Field—has been great fun. I’m making great progress, and I’m having a great time cheering Lisa on as she moves her book through its paces. I literally can’t wait to read what she’s working on.
Sure, I’d have more words this month, myself, but to be honest, life is rising up in several ways that restrict me—and in ways that, if I were using my time differently, I’d probably feel badly about myself. And, to reiterate, the follow-on point is that I’m pretty sure I’ll still actually finish a full story by the end of October, and therefore I’ll come out of the month having completed a full novel that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. Seriously. A full novel in a month.
Take that, you dastardly critical voice!
I can do this, you see?
Yes, indeed I can.