The New Deal

I can tell you one thing with certainty. The writing game ain’t easy. I keep pushing that basically every time I write a post (though a more accurate estimate might be I complain about it in every 0.84697 posts) partly because that’s the whole point of this blog (surprise!). (The other point of this blog is to, over time, gain traction in the culture at large to accept the use of parantheticals in prose. Us parentheses users have lived in the dark for too long!)

Anyway. I am here to announce to the brick wall that I have decided not to do NaNoWriMo. It was a tough call, because I really wanted to give it a go, but it looks like the responsible choice for this year is to save up my momentum for next year.

Two main reasons factored into my decision.

First, I do not have anything ready. Nothing but insubstantial ideas that could be great if developed, and general desires to write certain stories. No outline, no character sheets, no extremely vague single sentence description filled with ellipses… nothing. I learned last year (like I did not already know this) that piling forth without a road map is a great way to get pretty lost.

That leads us to the second reason: I still need to finish last year’s NaNo novel. I am close, ever so close, but as previously mentioned, I sort of fell off the wagon as far as making actual progress. I do not want to become the sort of wannabe who leaves a bloody trail of half finished stories in his wake.

Ideas are cheap. Ideas are not hard. I could sit here and come up with three ideas that, if written into a story, someone would not hate reading. Here:

Bonobo monkey learns to split the atom and decides it is time for revenge against a New York zoo.

When a zombified William Henry Harrison rises from the grave, he demands to know why John Tyler abandoned the Whigs… and goes on a quest to save himself from pneumonia.

Sentient banana peels conspire to dodge clowns’ feet and ruin physical comedy forever.

Okay, I admit those are some pretty crappy ideas, but with enough work, I bet I could develop at least a flash fiction out of each. That is the thing, of course. Developing ideas is the work, then there’s even more work clarifying them into something readable in a certain format.

I think that while anyone can learn to write a certain way, there is a Certain Something that makes it easier for some people to pick up that initial bit. At the same time, that Certain Something can only take you so far. Perseverance outweighs inherent talent by a long shot.

I am now in the perseverance sector of my writing career. (Perhaps I should clarify, one of the first perseverance sectors, as I harbor no illusions that I’ll be able to slide along after getting through this one.) There is not a lot of external validation right now. I am, in fact, on the verge of more actively seeking that validation, but to get there, you have to wade through a lot of invalidation, a lot of rejection. My pain threshold for rejection (in this realm) is largely untested, so I am not sure what it is going to do to me.

But hey. I think I heard someone who had talked to another guy who read the back of a motivational speaker’s pamphlet say that knowing your limits is an important step on the road to reading the rest of the pamphlet or something. That might seem unrelated, but I’m pretty sure he meant that you can’t live up to your potential until you figure out what your potential really is. I know I am a well of untapped potential (and have plenty of mixed metaphors in the sea), so if I want to even think about being successful, I need to, y’know, actually do something.

Heidi slapped me upside the head (mostly figuratively) and after asking what projects I had baking in the brain pan, interpreted my crazed mumblings into a cohesive semi-plan. That is to say, a month-long approach to making some actual progress on my work.

Instead of doing NaNoWriMo this November, I will be doing approximately these things:

  • Reading Project Bard’s Tale and taking notes on what I actually wrote
  • Figuring out the ending to Project Bard’s tale and writing it
  • Reading Project TimeJack and taking notes in preparation for what should be its final major edit
  • Writing at least one flash fiction story a week
  • Researching for a short story and writing that
  • Gracing my blog with the occasional post

Seems like a whole lot of work to me, and at the same time basically nothing will be accomplished. (Ah, the emotional paradoxes of a writing career.) I am telling myself that it is in fact a manageable level of work and that if I do everything listed it will in fact be a fair amount of progress.

We broke it down into four weeks with stops along the way to the longer goals and repetition of the shorter ones. I’ve tried a few other scheduling techniques in the past, but each has proved either too restrictive or too relaxed. I feel like this one hits that happy medium right in its smug face.

In the end, I hope to figure out how to maintain a 9 to 5 type schedule (offset to meet my physiological issues) and make solid, measurable progress on all of my projects, wrapping them in a reasonable time and moving on to the next exciting thing. Maybe that is asking too much, but since it’s just me asking myself, that is up to me to determine.

Well, this was a long and sort of boring blog post. They happen from time to time. Stick around, though, because there’s gonna be (in theory) at least four flash fiction pieces thrown up here as the month progresses.

And just to get your blood pumping, listen to this awesome Van Canto Song that makes me very happy every time I hear it. (The best thing about this song is that they got the leader singer of the band they’re covering (Joakim Brodén from Sabaton) to sing with them. Awesome stuff.

Catch you next time.

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