This is the fourth of six or seven installments depending on how things go while I’m writing the conclusion — one consequence of my outline-and-planning-free writing style is that I’m not often good at predicting final wordcounts. After it’s done I’ll release an omnibus and a print edition. At a projected 30-35,000 words, it will be the longest thing I’ve written. Right now it’s right around 20,000 words, equal to my previous record in Isolation, the title story in the Isolation and Other Stories collection.
So, why the heck am I writing a serial? And why was there a long pause between installments three and four?
Because I’ve been hit or miss in terms of finishing my work on longer stories. I have several projects that have been waiting at 10,000 or 20,000 words for me to finish them. I’ve let myself be derailed into turning to shorter projects and finishing those instead. But that’s not a good pattern for a writer to be in.
Writers need to finish their writing, dammit!
So a serial seemed like a good way to make a public commitment to finishing a story. I started this project to light a fire under my butt. By following through here, I demonstrate to myself that this unfortunate pattern of leaving long stories lie fallow for months or years before finishing them is unnecessary. I show myself that I can finish what I started. And I force myself to figure how how to motivate myself to do it.
Sometimes we realize that something is wrong, and it needs fixing.
It won’t get fixed unless we work on it with a seriousness.
So here I am, working with a seriousness. And I get a finished story out of it, and I hope you’ll find you got a good read out of it.
…I start almost every story writing by hand, then type it into a LibreOffice doc and continue the story as a typist. If a story stalls really badly, I often end up going back to writing longhand to kickstart it.
Maybe it’s a weird way to do things, but it seems to work.
This is from a story stub with the working title “The Long Trajectory” about a small civilization of cultural refugees who have spent a thousand years hiding on a comet while the Solar System developed into a large and integrated society without them. It’s got potential as both story and political commentary.
It’s one of six or eight stories I’ve recently started and then gone on to start and/or finish other stories. It’s normal for me to start stories and leave them to sit for a while. I come back and complete a good three-quarters of them. Some of them are interesting concepts but I can’t think of a really good way to continue them, and they go in the trunk.
Even then, not all hope is lost. I think the longest a story has sat in the trunk was three or four years, and I ended up pulling it out, reworking it totally, and the end result was “Flower On The Moon,” a little flash vignette that I was happy with and which is out now as one of my freebies. I didn’t try to sell that one first — there’s pretty much no market for vignettes. But they’re fun to write and sometimes inspire larger stories or elements within larger stories, so I write one now and then.
So that’s what my story workshop looks like. I think they all look a bit different — what does yours look like?
A few days of new words coming slowly and with great reluctance really grates on my nerves.
Successful writers will mostly tell you that success — having a goodly number of readers and selling material regularly — comes slowly. That sure seems to be how it’s going so far for me. The success stories that involve sudden viral surges of popularity, or look like they do because the years of lead-up aren’t visible to the casual observer, stick in my mind and whisper, if you were any good it would happen to you. You’d go viral. Much like me, those voices are bad at listening when told to shut up and how unreasonable they’re being.
The last couple of weeks, I’ve been lucky to squeak out a couple of hundred words daily. The high point was a 900 word flash one day. It’s writing. I wrote something. I didn’t totally give in to apathy and frustration. In addition, I managed some blog posts here as well. Those are writing. They count.
No, they don’t, the Angsty Voice whispers. There aren’t enough of them, and they are insufficiently awesome. Writing doesn’t count unless it’s totally awesome, unless *I* say it’s totally awesome.
Shut up, Angsty Voice. I’m trying to write over here.
Writer’s block is something a lot of writers talk and blog about, I’ve noticed. I’ve seen dozens of blog posts and articles on the subject, with hundreds of suggestions about what to do about it. Take a break from writing. Don’t take a break from writing. Write about something you don’t usually write about. Write more of the same. Worry about it. Don’t worry about it.
I have times when I hit a point in a story and I don’t know what comes next, but it’s pretty rare that I just can’t write. If nothing is coming I knock off for the day and when the next day comes I get back into it.
What I get is blogger’s block. I know I don’t have to get it. It’s all in my head. Because I get into a certain idea of what a blog post should be and I fixate on it. When I stop fixating, it’s no trouble at all to write a blog post. I’m writing this less for you and more for myself, to reinforce in my own mind through the process of blogging the reasons that I don’t need to have blogger’s block, in fact.
My fixation: I get it into my head that a blog post ought to be headed with a nice image, be a certain length, have a certain tone to it. That it should be relatively serious and address some sort of issue.
If you blog and your blog is about a particular issue and is a serious blog, then that’s fine and that’s how your blog should be.
This blog isn’t, particularly. This is a space for my own thoughts, for occasional randomness, on occasion for my actual writing, for musing about my process, my past, and my environment. It’s for just about anything, thus the title of the blog.
When I forget that and start to put bounds around what I think I should put here, I get blocked. I suspect writer’s block works the same way as what I’m calling blogger’s block. We all have our own bounds, some justified and some arbitrary assumptions. It’s up to each of us to figure out what we’re putting in our own way that is arbitrary, and figure out how to move past it.
Best of luck.