I have a bad habit. It used to be a great habit, but these days it’s as useful as smoking or a second cup of coffee or five-hours playing computer games.
That bad habit is writing.
Quite some time ago, I came to the realization that I was no longer enjoying the whole writing thing. No coincidence, it came as I was on the elevator at my old apartment with my first royalty statement from HarperCollins in hand. I wasn’t so much demoralized as I was pissed at myself for not seeing this coming, and I promptly locked myself in my apartment and sat down to write something new.
After ten years of writing erotica, a short story a week and promptly dropped into the inboxes of my favourite editors, it’s now like getting blood from a stone. I still successfully dabble in smut under another name, albeit in a different sub-genre, but the whole contemporary boy-meets-girl thing eludes me now. I know this, yet I still give it a go. All I really need to do is pick up my phone and check out what Alison Tyler has published on Patreon and I’m sucked in, determined to finish this story or that story, finally sink my teeth into something wicked, but it never works out. I’ve deleted more than I’ve written when those moods strike me.
One of these days I’m going to learn to just go do something else and stop torturing myself.
But I still hope that one day I can actually get some of those stories finished. Mind over matter, ass in the chair and all that. In the meantime, I have a trove of stuff from the past decade that I can put out there to be read. I’ve been loading this stuff on on Tablo, and I’m rediscovering stories I had completely forgotten I’d written. Nothing Important Happened Today, for example. I’d completely forgotten that story and I’d forgotten how much I loved writing that story. Then there’s Six Sides of Steel, which was the most surprising thing I’d written to date, and I still have a friend who asks if I’m ever going to turn that into a novella.
For now, you can find my A.M. Hartnett stuff on Tablo. Maybe one day there’ll be something new.
Well, that was a bit of a bust, at least in the strictest sense. I did not finish Pretty Boy in 30 days. I got the introduction locked down and mapped out the first six chapters, but once I started to move forward I quickly realized that speed-writing was not going to work for Pretty Boy unless I made an absolute mess of it.
Now, that’s apparently the point of Nanowrimo: just write and clean up later. What that plan fails to recognize is that if you can’t move forward because you don’t know if your main character has an indoor toilet or an outhouse, there’s simply no moving forward.
This method worked fantastically for other genres I play in that don’t require one to spend 30 minutes staring at the cursor while wondering if the main character needs to go outdoors to use the toilet. I blazed through multiple novellas and short stories. But when I tried to apply the same method to Pretty Boy, I ultimately got frustrated and wandered off to play video games.
Lesson learned, which was a part of this experiment to begin with. Some books just can’t be written in 30 days and that’s OK. Every book is different, and if I can write one in a week while it takes me three months to get to chapter five in another, that’s just how it goes. Rather than worry about it and beat myself up, I’m just rolling with it.
I’m almost at the end of the first week of this whole book-writing thing, and it has not gone according to plan.
First, I am working on a book. It’s just not the book I planned to write. For some reason, things fell flat on The Thorn Garden immediately. The book is still waiting to be written, but now isn’t the time to write it, since I found myself pulling my hair out trying to locate the two books I actually need to proceed.
So, I’m working on the follow up to Shadows May Fall. Progress has been slow, filled with mini “Ah-ha!” moments. An intro I didn’t know was needed until I was utterly stumped come Chapter Two. A sub-plot that gets darker every time I revisit it. Having to break the no-research rule to stop and look something up several times because I can’t proceed without some minor detail. It takes place in a fictional town, which one would think would be easier to manage since I can just make things up, but ultimately turned into a project that involved stitching several real-life towns together, none of which have half the historical sources as Halifax did for Shadows May Fall. Then there’s the main character, whose arrogance I have to constantly keep in check.
It’s moving, and for the first time in about a year, but it’s not moving at the breakneck speed required for this challenge. I’d say the ETA looks closer to 60 days than 30. While I’d love to have the high of having finished a book in 30 days and being done with it, I’d rather have one that is readable, and the 50K/30 days method isn’t exactly the right method for getting me a readable book.
Bring on week two!