Thursday, April 13, 2006

At Least I'm Not the Only One

Okay, so Jay Lake's blog pointed me to Tobias Buckell's blog which pointed me to this by John Connolly. Connolly said this...

...there is a wall that I hit during the writing of every book. The point at which it occurs varies from book to book, although it’s usually around the halfway stage or just beyond it. I start to doubt the plot, the characters, the ideas underpinning it, my own writing, in fact every element involved in the process...But there is always that fear that this book, this story, is the one that should not have been started. The idea isn’t strong enough. The plot is going nowhere. I’ve taken a wrong turn somewhere along the way and now have to try to find the right path again.

To which Tobias Buckell added...

I think most of the unfinished short stories I have are that way because I took too long to write them and hit the point where I realized how bad they were and just… stopped...With a novel I think it takes about 4-5 months to talk myself out of it. With Crystal Rain there was a 2 month pause in the middle of writing it where I lost all confidence in the book and had to bring myself to terms with just finishing the damn thing.

And Jay Lake said... well, he's got pieces of this idea scattered all over, but the gist is, he writes really fast, so he finishes stuff before he ever hits the wall. It's not a problem for him. He's the guy the rest of us hate. He's the woman who complains that no matter how much she eats, she never gains any weight. He's the rat bastard I went running with one day in the Army, who stood around smoking for twenty minutes right before we went running, then took off like a shot and left me in the dust.

And what really pisses me off is that for most of my life, when it came to writing, at least, I got to be that guy. I was almost always the smartest guy in the room, and definitely the best writer, even if I rarely finished anything. And now that I'm trying to swim in the larger pond, I'm surrounded by people as good as or better than me, and it's intimidating. (edit: I may be making this sound worse than it is, just for effect - fact is, even in my local writer's group, which is full of published writers, award-winners and just plain smart folks, I split my time between being intimidated and being inspired, so it's not like I just sit around hating people who are better than me - I just have some deep-deated emotional glitches that I'm working on).

But it's comforting to know that other people go through the same things I'm experiencing. Well, except for that bastard Lake...

I'm so jealous.

And, of course, the thing is, writing fast works for me, too (I've mentioned this before but I can't find the link right now, and I've got to wrap this up fast). "Frame by Frame" was very carefully developed and crafted over a series of weeks, and it's been making the rounds for over two years now. I've submitted quite a few stories for publication, and so far, the only two to find acceptance were one-day jobs, plotted in a couple of hours and written in three or four, with minimal revision after. Now, the character had been developing on paper and in my head for over twenty years, but the stories themselves were produced really quickly.

But real life doesn't really allow me to use this as a regular working method, so unless and until I'm making my living completely from writing, I can't just set aside four or five hours in a day to bash out a full draft whenever I feel like it. I have to catch it when I can. I hate to think that, even though I'm still writing, I might be doing the writing damage by doing so.

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