August 21, 2008

Pushing on Toward the Goal

Jamie Groves over at How Not To Write wrote an interesting article last month regarding the effect, “What if?” has on writing. He made some insightful observations, and I came to realize I’ve been cultivating a whole field of “maybe flowers.” They’ve sprung up mostly around Right of Succession, and I’m sure they’re a large part of the reason I’ve yet to finish the novel.

After doing some searching, I found the fertilizer I’ve inadvertently mixed up with the weed killer. Odd as it may sound, I’m afraid of finishing this particular story, and I believe I know why.

1. The idea for Succession was the first “real” novel idea I had, and by that I mean the first idea for a novel anyone other than my family and friends might have an interest in actually reading. To top it off, I wasn’t but thirteen-years-old when the original idea occurred to me. It has evolved over the years, but I’m still plagued by worries it may be as immature and horribly written as my first draft even after all these years of rewriting it as I learned the writing craft.

2. I’m afraid it will never sell. Yes, I know how it sounds, but the root of this fear is more that I will have wasted years working on draft after draft only to have it fail miserably. Plus, if Succession never sells, all the ideas for stories following the events in Succession will lay unread in notebooks as well.

3. I’m afraid my wellspring of ideas has dried up. A few years ago, ideas wouldn’t leave me alone. I have a small stockpile of story ideas stored away in a notebook on my shelf, but it’s been a while since I’ve gotten a new one to add to the cache. I suspect this may be due to the majority of my time being taken up with caring for my family and working on one of my three main ideas, but the fear I will never have another good story idea remains.

Fears are to be conquered, so how am I to go about stomping this one out? I’ve thought about it quite a bit the past couple of days. I could just drop the whole thing, but without the intrinsic problems Ben the Unlikely had, I can’t bring myself to kill an idea. So, the only recourse is the one Mr. Grove suggests. I need to finish the novel already.

However, I know how absent minded I am nowadays. It’s too easy to let goals get buried under the day to day grind. This is why I found a work out buddy to help me focused on eating right and fitting in half an hour or so of aerobics five or six days a week. Why can’t it work for keeping my mind on finishing off this manuscript?

It’s not like I can meet up with another writer to sit and work on our manuscripts a few days a week, so I’ve decided to make this blog my accountability. Every Thursday, I’ll post an honest assessment on the progress I’ve made and what happened to either further said progress or hold it up. It’ll be kind of like a food diary if you only entered your information once a week and it revolved around words instead of food.

Here’s where I’m starting. I finished rewriting the first four chapters of Succession some time back, and I went through and noted where major changes and rearrangements needed to be made. Now I’m going to go back and read through the rewritten portion to refresh my memory on the changes I made seeing as it’s been months since I’ve touch the thing and get back into the novel’s voice. Then I’ll begin charging on from the beginning of chapter five.

It’s time to press on toward my goal of having a contract for Succession by the end of 2010.


  1. All of those things might be true, but are very likely not, and none of them should stop you from finishing your novel.

    My first was horribly written and immature. Eventually, I wrote and sold 13 or 14 others, and now I've rewritten and sold the first. It's a progression - very much a growing process - and it works best when challenged.

    I bet you have another novel idea before you pen the last word of this one.

    Macabre Ink

  2. Thank you for the encouraging words, Mr. Wilson. Now that I've figured out what's been holding me back, I have no intention of letting those insecurities stop me from finishing the novel.