Hello and welcome to a more relaxed-than-I-usually-am-this-time-of-year-writing-wise edition of Just Another Struggling Writer. I’m just another struggling writer.
Two weeks ago I talked about the itch to get back into a new project even if I wasn’t totally sure it, or I, was ready. Well. Today I’m neck deep in it. And, friends, I am LIVING for it.
This new project, codenamed The Nexus because I haven’t even figured out a working title for it yet, is completely different from my last WIP (Border Towns, remember Border Towns???). And so far that has only been a positive.
Yes, I am still writing fantasy. Yes, I am still deeply committed to planning. Yes, I am still a depressed and anxious writer struggling to stay focused as an exceedingly stressful year comes to its exceedingly stressful pinnacle. But apart from that, The Nexus, and the way I feel as I prepare to draft it, is worlds apart from my last novelling experience.
And if I had to sum up why, it would be because I just don’t feel bothered about the rules this time. And I don’t mean the rules for NaNoWriMo (which I absolutely will be participating in this year, despite my earlier doubts). I mean the conventional writing rules that I’ve either totally made up or otherwise accidentally hyped up (in my own mind) as actual rules rather than the guidelines common wisdom tells me they really are.
The Nexus will be an epic, multi-POV fantasy that follows 12 different characters (though not all will have POV chapters… this time) on 6 different story paths. Some paths intersect, or are otherwise connected, but at least one is completely off on its own. The main cast is predominantly women, and, so far, the planned story paths can differ greatly in tone and theme. Elements of sci-fi, horror, and romance will all be present, as well as the most fantasy I think I can get away with. And, though I know how this book will end, any potential sequels are still just a massive question mark.
Just writing all that out, it sounds like a complete fucking mess that no agent would ever extend representation for (especially from a debut author), and I don’t care anymore.
Importantly, that particular attitude has infected in the best possible way the rest of my preparatory process as I get ready to roll into November. In years past I could not imagine starting NaNo without a detailed outline. This time, even though I have but half of the planned six story paths fully imagined, I’m comfortable if those are the only ones that are ready to draft in two weeks. I have also struggled mightily to write out of sequence. Again, not an issue here, thanks to the POVs shifting. I can write a chapter that inspires me, then jump to another if the mood strikes, because they are both completely detached from each other and happening simultaneously (in theory). I have talked about how I write thin, and though that will still present a bit of an issue in areas like description, I no longer have to worry about filling in sluggish parts of the story. Because I have so many of them to cram in brevity will be of the essence.
I have not a single clue whether or not any of these things are actually good, or if they will produce a novel worth revising or eventually reading. But I just feel so… freed when I think about them.
I did not think this novel was ready to write. I thought for sure I needed to let it stew for at least two more years while I actively worldbuilt around the idea itself. And while there are areas that need more attention, I feel comfortable enough with what I’ve got in front of me. I feel assured that the rest will come, as it so often does, once I’m in the weeds.
So, for the first October in three years, I’m not really that pressed about NaNo. I’m not wondering if I can do it (I know I can). I’m not worried about crafting the ideal novel to launch me into a career as an author. I’m not getting down on myself for not following conventional wisdom. I’m just letting the ideas take me where they want me to go. It’s gonna be a ride and it may be a glorious, flaming mess, but I can at least say I didn’t add a heaping pile of stress at a time I really didn’t need it. Plus, at the end of it, I will have written my second novel, trunked or no. That, in and of itself, makes it worth it.
It’s time to admit that Short But Sweet will be on hiatus until after November, possibly longer. I originally conceived of it as a way to get myself back into a writing habit, and though it worked spectacularly, it sadly means the Pillar-verse will be left out in the cold. I do still plan to serialize the Pillar-verse, probably as more Short But Sweet vignettes, later on, but the effort will be sporadic as I refocus on The Nexus. I hope you enjoyed them and that you look forward to them again in the future.
That’s all from me this week. I did manage to finish a book (loved it, fwiw), so I’ll have a Your Mileage May Vary post on Tuesday. Until then, may your writing be plenty and your struggles be few.