Sometimes, The Wheel is on Fire

Sometimes, The Wheel is on Fire

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Back to Writing

I've been known to call myself a writer, so I figured it was time I got back to writing. And by that, of course, I mean as a topic for this blog.

Since December 2009, I have added less than seven pages to my novel. An impressive total, I know, yet I can't help but be disappointed. I mean, not once in those pages do I mention ninjas.

So, why have I made so little progress in all this time? The smart money would be on procrastination. If I'm not feeling motivated, it's easy for me to be distracted by DVDs, TV, live sports in HD, fantasy sports, fantasy novels, books on my nightstand, people that I can't stand, canned goods, good times, Thai food, poor rhymes, board games, card games, mind games, word games, homophones, homonyms, hominids, katydids, my wife and son, my dog and cats, that squirrel beyond the window slats, minor slights, internet sites, waving from such great heights, songs I love, songs by Liszt, lists I love, and things that are shiny. To give you some idea, I wrote the first part of this post (through this sentence) yesterday two days ago sometime last week, and I've only gotten around to finishing it now. I take my procrastination seriously.

But despite Occam's Razor,1 I don't think my procrastination is fully to blame. Another culprit is blogging, which eats into my novel-writing time. Then again, some might claim that by remaining at The Wheel, not only am I entertaining upwards of seven people, but I'm also honing my craft, and my novel will be better for it. But that's a faulty argument. Not only is my novel not written in the first person, but it also doesn't contain a single footnote.2

Nevertheless, both my blog and my pro...(wait for it!)...crastination play a part in why, in the past twenty months, the first draft of my novel has only gone from 85% complete to 85.3% complete.3 But I feel there may be a reason bigger than all of those I've already mentioned: I'm afraid.

I'm afraid that when I finish the draft, the editing process will prove too harrowing and do me in. I'm scared no one other than those obligated by family ties or bound wrists will truly enjoy the story. I'm frightened it won't hold people's attention, that it'll be dull instead of engaging. Also, I'm mortified I'll eventually run out of synonyms for "afraid."

I know these fears are probably unwarranted, but they're still there, nagging at me from the back of my mind. Poking me. Prodding me. Not telling me that I'm going to fail, but that I'll disappoint. That my story won't live up to the expectations of my friends. Of my family. Of myself. And it scares me.

Or maybe I just waste all my time coming up with lame excuses. Enough of this. It's time to write.

Er... tomorrow.

1 Which basically states: The simplest solution to a problem is to cough up that blade you swallowed as if it's a hairball, slit the guard's throat, and then hightail it to Mexico.
2 And just like that, I've lost all seven of my potential readers.
3 Nor can I discount the possibility that I've been cursed by gypsies.


  1. Here's a secret I want to share with you about fear: there's always something to fear. Whatever hurdle you jump, there's another one after it.

    I also get distracted like you, which is why I don't write at home. I go out away from those things so that I don't surf the internet or watch a DVD when I should be writing. Perhaps that might be of some help to you.

    I have, since December 2009, written three novels and rewritten two others. I have queried, received partial requests, and received full requests. Each step along that path had something new to be frightened of.

    Or did it? What are we frighted of? That we'll be rejected? Bah. That's a certainty. That we're not good enough? Good enough for whom? Which matters more, being good enough for other people or being good enough for ourselves?

    It's not a matter of being good enough, it's a matter of being the best we can be, which isn't so scary. ...until you wonder whether the best you can be isn't so great as everyone else you know. But, the only way to answer that question is to put your butt in the chair and write the book.

    So, step 1, ignore fears. Step 2, put butt in chair. Step 3, ... Step 4, write!

  2. just recite the litany against fear until you believe it. That should take care of it.

  3. The only thing that's scarier than falling flat on your face is not trying at all. You're still putting the work in there, which is a good thing. But you've just got to ask yourself this: how bad do you want it? If you really want it, you'll forge ahead, through the forest of fear, until you come out on the other side, having completed your novel at last.

  4. You've got 7 loyal readers? You're off to a good start.

    Seriously, though? I wish you'd get to work on that book. If it's half as funny as your damn blog is, I'd love to read it.

  5. Ha! Here's the problem with having a blog--okay, there are several, and one of those is your Follower thingy! Those blasted squares with faces put pressure on you to write all these entertaining posts, and all 7 of us--who don't just lurk and laugh but actually comment--are great fun to interact with! How distracting is that? Plenty! Way more fun than writing to a yet-to-be-impressed audience of new readers, all by yourself. The concept scares the bejeebers out of me, too.

    Here's another problem with blogging--okay, it's my problem right now--I don't seem to be able to write on my WIP while I blog--that is, writing my own posts (have you noticed that I went from practically never to more than once a week?), and visiting ones like this! Yes! I'm procrastinating! You are an enabler!

  6. You really need to joine the Insecure Writer's Support Group. And this one of seven enjoys your blog!

  7. I think it's that curse from the old gypsy woman you slighted by not accepting her food in the dining hall. You know you should have ordered the tortellini a la conn!

  8. What happened to any progress is good progress?? I'll read it right is...promise.

  9. Do you really think that in the order of things on this planet, a novel is superior to a blog of equal quality writing? I don't, but apparently, in this society, we have been taught that this new art form, this new technology, is inferior to the old printing technology you can hold in your hands. Why? Perhaps, nostalgia, maybe distrust of technology? No writer can serve two masters. Well, they can try , but you see
    what results. My best

  10. Joe, I may have slightly overstated the extent of my fear for dramatic effect. Although the fear does contribute, it was more that I felt "I'm afraid" sounded better than "when I learned the odds against me being able to quit my job and make a living writing novels, I got lazy." But thanks for the pep talk; my biggest issue is my motivation to write. As it is, I do a great deal of your step 3...

    Budd, the litany the litany the litany the litany the litany the litany. Well, what do you know, that worked!

    Jeffrey, I've revised my goals, so they no longer include publication and a solid gold house, but I still want to finish my novel (and move onto the other half-dozen novel ideas rattling around my brain). I suppose I just have to want it more, and manage my time accordingly. For instance, if I made these comments shorter, I'd have more time for novel-writing. I may never learn.

    Matthew, that's part of the problem; I don't think my novel is half as funny. Maybe one quarter as funny, if that. The style is different, and it's in multiple third-person, so that makes it difficult. But my hope is to re-inject the funny during revisions. And thanks for the vote of confidence!

    Bridget, that's it exactly. Blogs provide instant gratification, and just having loyal followers ramps up the guilt if I stay away too long. And yes, I am an enabler. In fact, I think enabling is one of my best qualities.

    Mary, oh no! Not you, too! Do as I say, not as I do. Write! Write like the wind! That is, if the wind could hold a pen to paper, or type.

    Alex, thanks for the support! And the support group. Although, truthfully I'm not as insecure as I let on. I'm more lazy, distracted, and left one-handed by a needy baby.

    Mr. Grimm, yeah, but they all looked like gypsies, so how was I to know? Had I chosen the tortellini over the chicken parm instead, I might have been cursed to life of color blindness or cat allergies or athlete's foot. I simply chose the tastier path.

    Chuck, actually, you won't read it right now. Thanks for the offer, but it's currently in such a state I won't let anyone read it until I start making my way through the second draft. Even my wife has only been permitted to read the first chapter...

    Count Sneaky, you're right that a novel isn't automatically better than a comparable blog, but I have these stories rattling around my head (and in some cases, my computer) that I feel compelled to share (eventually). Besides, my blog is more like a collection of short stories than a novel -- some posts are far stronger than others, an there's not much tying them together. I believe I can serve two masters; I just need to sacrifice less time to the one known as Blogos.

  11. Even if I thought it would be possible to make a living writing (that percentage is sinking), writing doesn't come with benefits and I get amazing benefits at my job. I'd rather make double the money and have health insurance when I need it.

    And with two jobs, maybe I can afford a solid gold house. :)

  12. dude, seriously this post was awesome. And also you sell yourself a bit short when in that timeframe you got married and had a kid.

  13. Joe, you know, that's a pretty good plan. I'll come up there and work with you so I, too, can get amazing benefits. (Wait, that would involve fixing up my resumé, wouldn't it? Never mind.) And by the way, I've now realized that a solid gold house is too extravagant. Go for a rocket car instead.

    Thanks, Falen! But I don't think I've sold myself short. As anyone who's been through such events knows, weddings and births are only one day a piece. I had plenty of time to write. :)