The IDGAF Stage

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.

Kerry Share

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The One Where I Use the Word “Fantasy” A Lot

Well. 2020 didn’t get off at all how I expected. The world is on fire, figuratively and literally, there have been earthquakes and plane crashes and the threat of war, and how in the actual hell does one keep their head down and write their silly little fantasy book with all this going on?

It’s overwhelming, to say the least.

But, I keep on trucking. That’s all I can do, really.


My partner and I recently sat down and consumed Netflix’s The Witcher, as I’m sure so many of you did as well, and I, for one, quite enjoyed it. While I understand the criticism of the interweaving timelines not being properly denoted, I actually found that to be my favorite part. I didn’t particularly want my hand held and I liked that the showrunners knew I would be smart enough to piece it together without their help.

You and me both, bro.

Afterward, I was basking in the glow of a good fantasy, when I made the fatal error of turning my thoughts inward toward my WIP, Border Towns.

I’ve always described Border Towns as a political fantasy, one that heavily favored the political aspect and left the fantasy as sort of a backdrop. There’s no elves or dwarves, there’s no angels, demons, zombies, dragons, there’s not even magic. I’ve always been fine with this, happy to assume it would occupy a cozy little niche in the fantasy market, should it ever have the good fortune of seeing the light of day.

But, after The Witcher, I started to panic. Was my political fantasy fantasy enough?

I posed this conundrum to my excellent partner, listing all the things typical and, perhaps, expected of fantasy books that did not feature in my novel. I love him with all my heart, I do, but he looked at me dead on and said, “Well, then what makes it a fantasy?”

And then I really started to panic.

I spent the next few days in fervent worldbuilding mode, trying to figure out a way to inject some kind of magic system to shore up my fantasy bona fides, without disrupting the story I actually wanted to tell. And here’s another potential shameful confession for an aspiring fantasy writer: I hate worldbuilding.

I do. My roots are in fanfiction, and as such I’ve always been a heavily character driven kind of writer. I could very easily describe my first draft of Border Towns as just a series of conversations with some light context thrown in. I always think I want to worldbuild, but then I get bogged down in it and never start actually writing. Worldbuilding, I feel quite certain, is the leading cause of my previous WIP, that I labored over for almost 10 years without getting more than 10k words into, being on the shelf at the moment. 

Image result for woody goes on the shelf gif
Live shot of my previous WIP.

Needless to say, I was miserable. I came up with some ideas, some that might even add some interesting plot points, but eventually I just sat back and asked myself, “Why am I doing this?”

I didn’t want to have magic in this story. If I did, I would have included it in the first place. So what’s more important? Living up to some preconceived idea of what makes fantasy fantasy or writing the story I actually want to write.

The latter won out. As it always should do.

I went back to some old scenes I hadn’t gotten to transcribe during NaNo and found one I had really enjoyed writing, and weirdly enough, it’s still good! Maybe, just maybe, I can do this after all.

Write the story you want to write, folks. It makes a world of difference.


That’s all from me this week. Next week’s blog post will be about writing thin. Until then, may your writing be plenty and your struggles few!

Kerry Share

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