It’s too much. To vast. Can I really do this? Am I up to the task? Or am I being too ambitious, simply overestimating what I’m capable of? Honestly, I don’t know. I could abbreviated it, keep it small and contained, avoid letting it grow or get out of hand. But should I? Maybe I should just let it spread out, let it drag me along for the ride…
As an aside, anyone who actually reads this thing (yes, all three of you), may remember that I said this idea I’m currently playing with had been bouncing around in my brain for the last couple months. Well, it turns out I was wrong. I was lying in bed recently when I remembered that, way back when we were still living in our apartment downtown, I was already thinking about getting back into creating writing, and already groping around for interesting ideas. One of these ideas I wrote down in a little text file and squirreled away, after which I subsequently forgot about it. Then, a while back, as I was doing a little virtual house cleaning, I found the file, read through it, dismissed it as the wild ravings of a crazed lunatic, and promptly deleted it.
Well, oddly enough, it was this idea (or, at least the seeds of it), which sprung back into my mind. Which all goes to show that 1) this “writing thing” isn’t such a nutty flight of fancy after all, and 2) it’s better to never throw an idea away… because, even if it’s “bad”, it could become the roots of something “good”.
It’s not my fault. My brother came to town, and I found my free time over the weekend suddenly evaporate. See, Saturday was Dim Sum and Movie Day, and Sunday was Visit The Neglected Grandma Day. Neither provided much opportunity to get some writing in. So, alas, my current piece is hovering at ~7,200 words, and hasn’t moved much since Friday (and I took Thursday as a break).
On the flip side, I think I’m almost done with this one, and while I really doubt it’s anything worth reading, it will soon be my second completed piece of fiction, and hey, that ain’t bad. The biggest problem, at this stage, is the ending. The concept was actually born out of the ending itself, and now that I’m about to get there… I’m not sure I like the ending anymore. But, I’ve decided I’ll just charge ahead and see how things turn out. If I’m right and it sucks, I can always rip it out and try something different. And if I’m wrong, well… that’d be great!
Meanwhile, I’ve been fiddling around with an idea that’s been bouncing around in my brain for the last couple months. It’s more situational, so rather than worrying about building a story back from an interesting ending, I need to worry about coming up with an interesting ending to what I think is a compelling storyline. I’m not as yet sure how I’ll handle this, but maybe the answer is just to start writing and see where the concept takes me.
I’ve only been doing this whole “writing” thing for about two weeks now, so I can’t say I have the experience to have any useful opinions about the craft, but recently I learned an interesting little lesson about one of my own tendencies as a writer: I tend to get irrationally attached to the things I’ve created. Whether it’s a whole piece or just a single sentence, I get attached, and by that I mean I’m unwilling to just throw it away. Now, that’s not to say I’m unwilling to throw what I perceive as bad stuff away (this blog entry’s continued existence notwithstanding), but if I think something is good, or even just average, I have difficulty getting rid of it.
This tendency caused me trouble late last week while working on my latest little project (~5000 words and climbing!). See, I’d written, oh, three or four hundred words of dialog and exposition between a few characters, and the next day, as I sat down before the keyboard, I found it extremely difficult to build up the motivation to write. Suddenly I was worried. Have I lost interest in this idea? Is this a case of that oh-so-dreaded condition, “writer’s block”? What’s going on?
Then it dawned on me: while the bit I’d written the day before was, from a technical standpoint, decent (well, to me, anyway), it was, from a plot development standpoint, basically superfluous. Worse, it wasn’t clear how I was going to move on from the situation without boring
- any potential readers, and
Fortunately, this was a very easy problem to fix: highlight, delete. Boom, nearly an hour’s worth of work gone. Was it a little painful throwing all that material away? Sure. But sometimes, you just gotta make the hard decisions.
Anyway, for any potential writers who give a damn about the things I’m learning as I go along, here’s what I was forced to ask myself:
- Is this passage interesting? And note, if you’re forcing yourself to write it, imagine what someone will go through while trying to read it.
- Does this passage advance the plot in a meaningful way?
- Does this passage tell the reader anything new or interesting about the characters or setting?
In my case, the answer to all three questions was “no”, so into the trash it went.
Sure, it may be a small milestone, but my first piece of (very) short fiction is now complete! Or, at least, the very first, very rough draft is complete. At a little over 8800 words, or nearly 12 pages, it is, I think, the longest bit of creative writing I’ve ever put together. Yeah, I know, that’s not very big (a novella ranges between ~17,000 and ~40,000 words, though technically, it apparently qualifies as a Novelette), especially considering I expect to cut a good 800 words out during the rewrite phase, but given that it’s my first serious crack at creative writing, I’m pretty happy with it, despite the distinct lack of originality it represents (who needs originality, anyway, I ask you?).
So now what? Simple: it goes in the vault. The idea, here, is that once a piece is complete, you set it aside for a while in order to gain some distance from it. Then, when you go back to edit the thing, you can do so with a fresh perspective on the work. And once the rewrite is complete, only then do you kick your baby out of the nest, hoping against hope that it’ll flap it’s wings a little and avoid crashing and burning too badly.
Meanwhile, tomorrow I’ll get started on my next idea. It’s been rolling around in the back of my mind for the last week, so I’m kind of excited to pull it out of the cellar that is my hindbrain and see what it looks like in the light of day. Hopefully it ain’t too ugly…