Writing Backwards


Some days you eat the bear. Some days the bear eats you. -Unknown

For those who have been following this blog for any reasonable amount of time, my latest literary battle goes by the name of Tesla’s Ghost. I’m one of those guys who is quick to take up a challenge, and this has been one indeed. In every one of my many book projects in the past, there was always at least one point where I wondered if I was wasting my time. There have been several of those moments with this project.

That doesn’t make this project bad. Oh no. I’ve been around to know that there is no direct correlation between the amount of work in something, the enjoyment in doing it, and the quality of the end product. Like I said, every project has its ugly stepchild phase. But this one has been more complicated than most, and has been slow getting started. In addition, I usually try to work on these during the summer months when I can concentrate on them. That was my plan last summer, but Real Life got in the way, and it was delayed. The only thing that is keeping me going right now is a colleague–Kyle Portbury–who is interested in the project, and keeps bugging me to get it finished.

What’s frustrating is that when people ask what the project is about, I am almost of a mind to keep my mouth shut. Every time I try to explain it, it sounds worse than how I have it figured out in my head. And that scares me some. There’s always a little voice in the back of a writer’s head, ready to start screaming if things start going wrong. But you have to make sure the rational side stays in control.

The good news is that I think I am over the hump. I polished off chapters 10 and 13 yesterday, and discovered that I was now at page 190. Based on my calculations, I should end at about 90,000 words and just short of 300 pages. Then with the editing process, that number will go up or down, preferably down a bit.

But what’s even better news is something I have known for a while. When your writing through a rough patch, you have to tell yourself that things will make more sense on the other side. Plot holes? Make a note of them and come back to them. Characters that suddenly disappear? Deal with them later. Need more description? Ditto.

When things aren’t going well, the answer is often to just push ahead. Sometimes you have to cut your losses and start over with something else. I have done that a couple of times. But if you believe in the concept of the project, and if you believe in yourself, push on. Find some inspiration. Make it fun. If you can’t do either of those, write it anyway. It will all make sense eventually.

One more thing to remember: Everything you write, even if it never sees the light of day, benefits you. Every word you construct is making you into a better writer. And the next story you write will be an improvement for that very reason.

 

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