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Jumping ship, again

This year I have done a lot of project jumping. I started the year off with the decision to get the first draft of Saving Tomorrow written. Then I worked my ass off on Mocha Nihilism, only to trunk it when it was almost ready for submission. I moved on to Chasing Ascension, hoping to get the first draft of that finished off quickly after cutting 15,000 words from the original version, which I then ditched to start work on Saving Tomorrow, again…

Yup. A lot of project jumping.

And now I’m ditching Saving Tomorrow, for the second time this year. I don’t have another project in mind. There is no new shiny. No other temptation. There is exhaustion and the inability to push ahead with a long term project.

I tried all the tricks in my book. I broke it down into smaller sections – I wasn’t thinking about a novel. I was thinking about this scene, or that. Getting this chapter sorted. Introducing this character. Exploring that situation…

I set myself small, manageable tasks – 750 words a day.

I allowed myself to suck while writing the first draft. I played with whatever ideas came to me. I pushed through blocks and outlined just the right amount for me.

And yet, I just can’t write this novel. Not right now.

Nothing I have tried has managed to get me past the ‘gosh this is going to take me such a terribly long time’ barrier in my brain. I guess what it comes down to is that I am a somewhat hedonistic writer, and one thing that gives me great pleasure is finishing off a draft. Unfortunately, finishing the draft of one scene, or one chapter, is simply not the same as finishing the first draft of an entire novel. It’s not really ‘done’ unless it’s ALL written.

Right now, I can’t make great progress. Life is so very busy. There are many demands on my time and less time than ever for writing. I could write the novel, but it would take me the better part of a year and I just don’t have the stamina for that right now.

What I can do is write short. I can start and finish short stories because they need so many less words. So much less time invested. That feels good. It keeps me smiling, helps me feel like I am making progress. I can begin and end, and have something to show for it. A ‘finished’ something. Eventually a ‘published’ something.

I can also write medium. I’ve proven to myself this year that I can do novellas. I can write them. I can revise them. I can edit them. They are not too hard. Not too big.

I cannot write a novel. Not yet.

So while it feels kind of shitty and lame to put Saving Tomorrow aside, again, it’s really my only option at this point. Setting it aside means that I will still want to write it. I will still love it and have drive for it when I do get the energy/time/head space to throw myself into a novel. (maybe next year, when my middle child starts a couple mornings of pre school a week – maybe when she finally learns to sleep through the night, which please god, can’t be too far off, surely).

Because right now, I feel like I am bashing my head against a wall. I don’t want to write. I feel uninspired and dragged down, and like I’m failing at something I should be able to do. And that’s not good for me, for my creativity, or for my novel.

So, now it’s official. No novel for me. Not this month. Not next. Probably not this year.

BUT, plenty of short stories to complete, new ideas to be had, and hopefully a return to gaining some pleasure from my writing. It’s been an exhausting month for reasons I simply can’t go into here, so I am going to go easy on myself for now.

Let’s see what happens 🙂

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13 thoughts on “Jumping ship, again”

  1. Completely understand where you’re coming from on this one. Sometimes those big stories just don’t want to be caught and stuck in a box. I’ve had about 3 of those, I nailed one down but it took forever and I’m still not 100% happy.

    Short stories though, are great fillers for the imagination. They allow you to fart out an idea, put it down, clean it up, and move on. I like those too.

    1. It’s nice to get something finished 🙂 I’m glad you can relate, Ryan! I’ve written a number of novels in the past, I just can’t seem to lately though – life will one day be a little less busy, I’m sure.

  2. You’ve jumped into my head and pulled out my thoughts, my feelings when the BIG projects that seem so awesome and even easy to a point at the start just become insurmountable. I’ve been there. We all have. How many long term projects have I started? About a gazillion. How many have I finished? None.
    Going short sounds like just the ticket for you now. You’re right, go easy on yourself 😀 The best of the best of everything to you.

    1. Aw, thank you Kate! Sometimes the best thing to do is let something go, right? I have finished five novels, so I know I can do it – just not with little kids. We only learn by trying, and I tried! I think I’ll give it another go next year, and if that fails, the year after…one day I will get back to novels! lol but in the meantime enjoy everything I CAN do instead of beating myself over the things I CAN’T.
      It’s certainly nice to know I’m not alone in these thoughts and feelings 🙂 Write on, Kate!

  3. Aw, Cassie… I think if most writers had a dime for every idea they abandoned, none of us would need to sell any actual books. 🙂

    Don’t be too hard on yourself. You have a young family. I remember the bone-weary exhaustion of having preschoolers. I didn’t start Ravenmarked until my little Natalie was almost five. It was so much easier to focus on commercial writing, short articles, web copy, etc. I lived in that world for a long time. I can’t even imagine wrapping my brain around a novel with preschoolers around. Novels take a whole different level of brain power, and it’s okay if you don’t have it right now.

    The world needs stories–long, short, medium, and everything in between. And a lot of great novelists started their careers as short story writers. And take heart in the fact that your brain is stewing those novels and creating some kind of really rich, savory sauce. When you come back to them, the sauce might be done, and the words will tumble out.

    1. I really hope you’re right, Amy! I sometimes feel as though I might never get back there – but as you say, these are exhausting times. I wouldn’t trade them in for anything, but kids are tiring! Specially kids who don’t sleep all night! lol I have a feeling that as soon as I am getting 7-8hrs a night I’ll be golden 🙂
      The short works, the editing, the other stuff – so much easier. Those smaller tasks.
      Thank you 🙂

  4. I’m pretty much happy to have finished three novels since I started my first one in high school, 18 years ago… and two of them were actually publishable, for which I’m grateful! If only there were more hours in the day…

    I’ve also written two publishable novellas since then and they do feel so much more manageable in terms of time and story. Maybe give one of those a try if you have an idea that works for the length?

    Of course, there’s nothing wrong with using the time and energy you have to write short stories! I love short stories — reading and writing them — and the world could use a few more talented writers of shorter fiction… It’s a form that most of publishing and most readers have forgotten, unfortunately…

    1. Hi Brian, thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment 🙂 I love shorts too, which is great seeing as I DO have time for them 😉
      Novellas are wonderful, and I will definitely be working on one along side my short stories. They feel entirely different from a novel, and thanks to the developments in digital publishing there are now plenty of places who will accept them.
      I’ll have to check out your blog 🙂 Thanks again for dropping in!

      1. Something to keep in mind is that 35,000 to 50,000 words was considered a NOVEL 50 years ago… so what people consider a novel changes… I say, write whatever feels right for the story and you’re doing the right thing. 😉

  5. Saving Tomorrow isn’t going to go anywhere. It will be waiting for you, patiently. Writing as a creative endeavor has certain advantages. It’s not like a painting sitting in the studio half-finished. It has a different life.

    Children, however, have their own little schedule. In an eye blink their cheeky smarm turns to sass and they’re giving boys the eye. Good luck with that.

    Shorts are great!

    1. I don’t want to hear anything about them giving boys the eye, thank you. I’d like to keep my head in the sand about that for a little while longer!

      Shorts ARE great. Thank goodness I actually enjoy them, or I’d be totally screwed lol.

      Thanks Anthony

  6. I’m still amazed at how much you DO get done with such young kids. I think it’s amazing that you still find time to write short. There’s no shame in taking it easier on yourself (can’t bring myself to say easy), and the writing is hardly going to anywhere. Do what you can and find enjoyment with what you do get done. Most of all, enjoy your girls. Childhood only happens ones. And that’s all that really counts.

    1. So true, Sadie 🙂 I am enjoying a more sedate pace now, and that’s pretty amazing for me! I’ve never really done ‘sedate’. I guess it would still look pretty hectic to some people tho hehe

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