Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Waiting Game

Now PlayingTrocadero - First Wave and Good Fight (Red Vs. Blue OST)


In the months between Ataraxia and Millennium Girl, I became very fixated with jumping onto another project rather quickly. I did this mostly because I'd come to accept that no amount of editing could make Ataraxia publishable. That is unless I scraped the whole thing and rewrote 90% of it. But it was mostly because I felt anxious and weird and desperate now that I had no WIP.

So I'd start up something, close it, start up with it again, ignore it for a couple of days, then start up again. I gave up this somewhere near the end of September. Because Ataraxia was finished right in the beginning of that month, I didn't really have to wait long for NaNo. October was a busy month for me. In addition to essays, I had a couple of short stories due for my workshop class. (The first draft of The Way Out Is Through was to be turned in October 11, if I remember correctly).

I worked on them whilst looking forward to finally winning NaNoWriMo. I was a college freshman/junior (lolcredits) rather than high school senior (or freshmen, if we're going back to the ancient times), so clearly I had more self-discipline and time.

Because I'd spent such a long time thinking about this particular story, I thought it'd be pretty easy. In fact, I had most of the mythology down, as well as the major plot points. I was looking forward to getting to know the world and characters.

Then November came around and I fucking tanked it. I don't even remember properly breaking 20k words. And seeing how Redemption ended NaNo at 40k, Ataraxia at 30k, and this last few weeks I discovered my 10k-a-week ability, I should have come to the realization the story wasn't working for me. What other reason could there be? I wasn't crazy busy--not more than usual--and 20k a month is just...odd for me. Really odd.

I needed the break desperately, but I didn't want to accept it. Even after tanking NaNo I went around trying to write snippets of other stories, edit Ataraxia, do some world building, listen to great music to get inspired, all that stuff.

But I also needed to learn to let go. Anne and Jane, Jacob and Arkana, Hitomi and Nikki, Isadora and Luna, Amber and Miranda...they've been in my head for a couple of years now. Sometimes I try and imagine what it'd be like to return to them and write a line of dialogue or two. But it never works.

Sonya and Caesar were with me for a year before I started working on their novel. I occasionally saw Wendy and Yuki a couple of months before they wandered into Millennium Girl, but the idea of Lilith came to me about three weeks or less before I started her novel. Clearly, I needed that break.

So all in all, it was about four months before I started work on something new. (And actually stuck to it).

But those four months? Torture. It was like I was twelve years old again, struggling with a million projects, thinking I'd never finish anything. Which is a stupid thought that hits me no matter what I finish. Even at that age, when I was done with The Night Kingdom, I thought I'd never be able to do it again. Then I wrote my largest novel yet and still thought it was a once-in-a-lifetime-thing. So guess what? Neither of my recent COMPLETED manuscripts assure me that I'll actually finish anything else. In that period between September 2013 and January 2014, I was constantly anxious and terrified.

And it's not like I didn't write! I wrote three short stories and who knows how many blog posts, not to mention the essays and detailed critiques I produced during the semester. But it's like I needed to be working on a novel or I'd feel like a failure forever.

So now, at the end of Millennium Girl, that anxiety has returned. I got my mom to print all 400something pages at her work and then got it bound at Office Depot. Now it's in a paper bag, hanging out in the middle of the apartment. I'm not allowed to touch it for four to six weeks. And this waiting is driving. Me. Insane.

All I can think about is how much it sucks, how the prose is emotionless, how limited my vocabulary is, how the characters are one dimensional, and how much of a cop-out that stupid fucking ending was, and GHAAAA.

There are only two things keeping me from giving up on it: 1) I already made my mom print the whole thing out and 2) I'm legitimately terrified I'm going to keep abandoning projects because they're "just not good enough." And it's like...no shit they're not good enough. They're first drafts written by a spacey teenager. The only way they'll improve is if I actually have some faith and work on them.

That doesn't mean I don't know when to move on. I know moving on from all the other novels was ultimately beneficial to me. But I don't want to overdo it either. I can't give up all the time, especially when I don't honestly have something else to work on.

But why do I feel so anxious? I finished Ataraxia, I finished Millennium Girl. They're both over 100k words long and I finished the latter way faster than the former. (Granted, I didn't stop in the middle of it to work on something else or had college applications/classes on the way but still)

It makes me anxious to have back burner projects. Or to think about all the stories I haven't told yet that are just knocking around in my head. But I need to calm down. Lose myself in some reading, maybe go back to a few video games, or start running again.

It's also like I don't even know what the hell kind of writer I am. I say I don't rely on inspiration, but clearly if I didn't, I'd have a hell of a lot more stories done. But if I did, I would have never finished anything in the first place. Is there some annoying balance in there? It's also not even lack of love. I love all my characters--even the unwritten ones. That still doesn't mean I'll finish--or hell, start--their stories.

And worst of all, if I am a hack right now, the only hope I have is that I'll get better. In the far....far, far, far, far, FAR future.

AND I AM TOO IMPATIENT DX. I know, I know, It's not a race, it's a marathon. No one gives a shit if you published at nineteen or twenty-eight or forty or eighty-three. It's not about other people. It's about me. I want to be published and established by the time I'm in my mid twenties. Why? I have no clue. It's not like I'm incapable of seeing myself as a middle-age woman. It's not like I don't know this kind of thing takes forever. So why the impatience?

I'd blame my age, but I really need to stop trying to rationalize everything with "well...I am eighteen."

I don't know how the editing process for Millennium Girl is going to go. I have this distinct fear that I'm going to want to give up on it before summer's even over.

I'm making a promise; I'm going to give it my all. Because even if it goes nowhere, I need to learn to stick to one project and see it through to the end. That used to mean finish a first draft, but since we've established that's only the beginning, I'm setting a new goal.

I'm not making a promise to calm down because, well, it ain't gonna happen. Still, I'll try to remind myself to take things slowly.

New ideas will come. They always do. >_> Just...gotta...stop...obsessing...


  1. Hang in there! Most writers have "trunk novels" which never see the light of day. But it's my opinion that any book can be salvaged, you simply need more practice at editing. Just like writing those first drafts (a monumental achievement by the way!) you have to dive in and learn about how to make the editing process work for you. You also have to get very honest with yourself and learn how to call out your mistakes. That's why editing is hard - when looking at a manuscript you are searching for all of your failings and flaws and mistakes. But, that's also why it is so rewarding because through that you grow immensely as a writer and not only learn to edit but draft better. Good luck!

    1. Russell:

      Thank you for the encouragement :D I'm looking a little bit more forward to the editing process now. After all, it's not like it can somehow get worse. And yeah, there's still so much to learn; it's quite exciting ^^


"Science and science fiction have done a kind of dance over the last century... The scientists make a finding. It inspires science fiction writers to write about it, and a host of young people read the science fiction and are excited, and inspired to become scientists...which they do, which then feeds again into another generation of science fiction and science..."
- Carl Sagan, in his message to future explorers of Mars.