Happy August to everyone! This continues to be my terrible attempt at an online journal documenting my writing and my odd relationship with it. I've had an interesting morning.
At first, I thought this post would be upbeat positivity, but as I opened my computer and logged in, I realized that this was really a continuation of my last post from July 15 "Let's be real." To recap, I was miserable writing Serango and I had lost almost all momentum. I have been writing it since January, and I was ready to call it quits. This would have been the first project I had quit mid-first draft in almost a decade.
That was July 15th. I was feeling marginally better about Serango, but still frustrated. The other day, my friend left my apartment and I declared that I was going to my coffee shop to write. But as she walked out the door, I was filled with such dread that I actually put my bag down.
I knew that I ought to power through and just sit my ass down and stop complaining. I knew that was the advice I'd give someone else, albeit in a nicer fashion.
But, the idea in that moment repulsed me. I think my mindset stems from this I'm-not-querying-I'm-writing-what-I-want phase, and I've always believed that if you find a project boring or tedious, the reader probably will find it to be that too. Make it interesting, I would tell someone. Blow something up. Make someone kiss someone else.
So, I paced my apartment, walked off the dread, and then I reluctantly resolved to just go and work on outlining and brainstorming Kabuki-ish. Which has the dubious honor of being the Next Thing. I went to the coffee shop. I worked. I made good progress on Kabuki-ish. I did that the next day. I worked all on paper, which felt great because I've been staring at screen all day for work.
Then, with a bounce in my step, I packed up my things this morning, and like usual, I went to the coffee shop. It was later than usual, and the barista was different. We've shared a couple words, and I think I told him I was writing a novel sometime in the past.
Anyway, as I ordered, he asked me how the novel was going.
The guilt, it was real, and like any horribly guilty person, I lied. Well, I sort of lied.
"Actually, it's hard right now. It's like work. Well, it's always like work, but it's become work that I don't enjoy doing."
He didn't really have a response, and I don't blame him, because even if someone I knew dumped that heaping pile in my lap, it would take me some time to respond. I shrugged, which sort of allowed him not to respond.
But the lie was that I was even still working on Serango, which was the novel he was asking about. Not specifically of course, because I do not think enough of my projects to summarize them for baristas, who are essentially held hostage to the counter, and even saying "I'm writing a novel," makes me feel horribly pretentious. It's much easier to claim to be working on something vague, which can allow people to assume you're doing spreadsheets or some serious work. Not writing probably bad fiction.
Anyway, that barista is the first person in a while to ask that basic question. How's the novel going? And the guilt, not only from giving up on Serango, but then lying about it to basically a stranger just made me...
I went to my table. I sat down. I hadn't brought my computer because I had resolved to work Kabuki-ish out on paper, and I thought to myself, I should write Serango right now.
I opened my notebook, and fidgeted. I stared out the window, I stared at other people, and I went to retrieve my latte. I tried to remember where I had even left off, so many weeks ago, and vaguely knew.
Then I forced myself to figure out what happened next. I had a detailed outline on my computer, but the sheer complexity of the end of the novel—and the outline—and all my still unsolved questions and problems had probably crushed my enthusiasm. Screw what I have, I thought. If I can't keep the story straight in my head without notes, neither can the readers.
That's a bit of, I believe, incredibly useful advice for fantasy writers. That isn't to say that you shouldn't carefully plan, but I really do think you should have the broad strokes for each plotline in your brain.
And basically, I outlined simply what had to happen next. I jotted down dialogue. It was maybe a page and half of brainstorming and re-working, but I fixed so much and the next pages felt doable. The end felt more in sight. And given that the novel is almost at 70,000 words, the end must be in sight.
I came home and re-read my opening, made pretzels, and here I am, not giving up on this book. I don't think anyone will really like Serango, but I owe the book a completion. I really do.