I’ve been lax in posting recently, and for that I apologize. But after conquering a brief case of writer’s block, I’m back up and running, and I have a lot to do.
As Pitch Wars continues, I’ve set myself to writing more than ever. Now is not the time to sit on my laurels. As I always say, the work of an aspiring novelist is never done, and I have plenty of stories to tell. With that said, here’s what I’ll be working on this week:
Over the past week and a half or so I’ve had a mild case of writer’s block. Perhaps it was the start of Pitch Wars, seeing so many other writers and what they were working on. Perhaps it was the start of college football season. Either way, I began feeling overwhelmed. That is past, however, and now I’m ready to press on with my work-in-progress.
The end of my writer’s block was marked by the completion of my first new chapter in quite some time. It took about three days, and I’m still not sure it’s up to snuff, but the important thing is that it’s there. It exists, and I said what needed to be said. So there it is.
I have found that every so often while writing a novel I experience something of a personal crisis. I begin doubting everything I’ve done, wondering if the entire work should be completely rewritten, or simply scrapped. Lately I experienced this once again, and upon reflection that may well have triggered the writer’s block. It’s hard to keep writing if one is fully convinced that what one is writing is nonsense.
Times like this are made all the more trying when I realize, logically, that at least some of my concerns have merit. No doubt what I have thus far could be better. No doubt it could be better worded, more exciting, etc. But it’s difficult at times to see where reasonable concerns end and impostor syndrome begins. A part of me is tempted to abandon writing for a few days and read through everything I have again, see if there’s anything that could be reworked to land better. Of course, if I do that, I run the risk of falling into the perfection trap: repeatedly reworking and re-reworking and re-re-reworking what I have thus far while never actually completing the story.
I want to make this the best thing I’ve ever written. But I also need to keep going, to regain momentum and not lose it, not for a second. To that end, I feel a two-pronged approach is best. For the coming week, I plan to work myself back up to my original pace: one chapter a day, write at night, revise in morning, repeat. At night, when I’m tempted to move on to the next chapter, I will instead begin work on a comprehensive reworking, looking at ways to refine the story and make it more impactful, considering everything from overall story structure to word choice in an effort to make this story better.
As far as the next chapter itself, I’m approaching a major milestone: planetfall. Every word of the story thus far has been building up to this moment: the point at which the colonists land the first prefabricated structures on Phecda IX and begin living on the planet’s surface. It will be a hectic chapter: fast-paced, shifting rapidly between characters and scenes. But I think that will help the story, by instilling a sense of urgency in the reader.
I’ve also chosen a date for planetfall: Thursday, November 26, 2122.
While I have a lot of ideas I’m eager to pursue, this week needs to be about the work-in-progress. As such, I plan to resist the urge to revisit some of my other novel projects, and focus on short fiction.
It’s safe to say that, in my single-minded pursuit of The Pioneer, my short fiction has been sorely neglected. The only work I’ve done on any short fiction project in the past month was done the Friday before last. That consisted of me writing about two paragraphs of a short story I’d originally planned to release for Halloween, before deciding to scrap the entire thing.
However, I do still intend to revive my tradition of releasing a short story for Halloween this year. Originally, last year I’d planned to post a short story called The Harvestman in early October. Set in Pennsylvania in the 1980s, the story would have followed Pittsburgh homicide detective turned private investigator Don Crane, as a missing person case developed into a chilling tale of the paranormal. I’m not fully convinced that the concept is unworkable, but the story as it was written had gone nowhere, and the more I wrote, the more I realized it wasn’t going anywhere else.
I have a few ideas I want to explore. As such, this week I plan to revive my daily sketches, while also revisiting the central premise of The Harvestman. I’d originally planned to follow the story with a new Don Crane piece every Halloween, and I still think I haven’t seen the last of Don Crane. Among the possibilities should The Harvestman fail to pan out would be an alternative story set while Crane was still working homicide in Pittsburgh. That story would likely revolve around his last case, in which his pursuit of a serial killer known as the “Medicine Man” left him so disturbed that he left the force.
I have a lot to do this week, dreamers. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. Like it or not, this is who I am now. I’m a writer, and it’s time to get back to work. – MK