I have been working on a sequel to my book Frozen Hearts. I started… *flips over to Excel tracking to check the date* …in July of this year. Sometimes when I’m writing it feels like I’m flying, like I’m in the zone, like I’m immersed in the world and characters and everything is ok.
This was NOT one of those times. The book has been hard to write.
First, I had a massive editing project to do which took a major chunk out of the beginning of the year. Second, I picked up an additional job, so my writing time has been compromised. My word count schedule is still at an extremely regimented level. I have a minimum daily word count I must reach or make up the next day.
No fun stuff, no internet, no tv before writing time, but my word counts are lower so this story has been a slow go.
I also went into it blind, pantsing it’s called in the writerly world, basically writing by the seat of my pants without a detailed outline. I did scratch out my overall plot points so I would have some direction, but the majority of it had to be snatched out of the air as it flew by.
Writing in short burst on a story that I had to wing has made this a grueling experience. There has been magnificent moments of discovery, of learning the characters motivation, of finding out what the real theme of the story is, but it felt like digging through sun baked sand rather than freshly tilled earth.
At this point, I’ve figured out a good idea of how and where the story will end. As I’m barreling at the speed of a sprinting snail at the conclusion, I often think of quitting. I get these horrible imaginings that this is the worst writing in the world and no one will like it, the story doesn’t make sense, and the characters are flat.
I usually feel this way at the end of EVERY project. Usually, I breeze past the self-flagellation. But because I’m keeping such a slow pace, my doubts are gaining more mass, speed, bulk, like a Hulk bent on smashing my writing dreams.
Again, I’m reminded of running (writing and running are inexorably tied for me). At the end of a run when my knees are getting twingey, my playlist has run out of good song, my nose is running, and the cold is cutting into my lungs, I think—no one would know if I stopped. No one would care if I stopped. The world would not shame me for stopping . I could just walk home. Then I hear that click that says, I would know. And I could not give up on my running, my project, or myself.
So here I am, the finish line is close but the doubts nag me, tug at me, slow me down. It really doesn’t matter because I know, even if I do have to walk home, I will cross the finish line.
What about you guys? Ever tempted to abandon a project?
12/31/15 EDIT—I have finished the book. It still feels like a horrible unreadable mess, but I finished, and now I can edit the mass of glob until it’s a prettier more readable glob. Happy New Year!