I Hereby Foreswear NaNoWriMo

I’ve finished NaNoWriMo for this year, and possibly for good. The 81,000 words were done in nine days. For the first five days I did 10,000 words a day, but was able to slow to a more relaxed 8,000 a day after passing the 50,000 word goal.

I think it’s the deadline that does it for me. There’s this urgent need to finish. I get it when doing a first draft anyway, but have forced myself to slow down a bit recently. Not that the urge ever completely vanishes.

I’ve wondered whether it’s a desperation to achieve something, given my lack of any kind of success so far. But I don’t feel anywhere near the same urgency during the revision process. There’s a desire to get through it, and eventually to be rid of the thing so I can get on to the new, but never the same fevered intensity.

Since I don’t really need NaNoWriMo to prompt me to write now, I think it may have offered me all it can. And the increased stress and anxiety I feel from it may just make the writing process less enjoyable (though much such enjoyment tends to be retrospective).

So I hereby swear off doing NaNoWriMo again.

 

Results

The book (sequel to The Border Guard, which is currently submitted to an agent – 1 initially, with a few more I’ve started researching next in line) is written, at least. It still needs a lot of work. Chapter 3 is way too sparse, so that needs something else. I need to insert a chapter so the POV character has actual interaction with another character before the first scene they get together here, in order for that to really work without relying on the reader having read and remembering their interactions in the first book.

I also realised one of the plot strands left in the first book doesn’t have any attention here, so I need to work out whether it will play a role, or whether to exorcise it from the first book.

More worryingly is that one of the overall themes (probably not the word I want) of the first book isn’t as prevalent here. I can’t tell if that’s a problem yet, and may need some distance to properly judge. Overall I’m relatively happy with some bits of the story, so I don’t want to have to do a complete rewrite.

So now I’m trying to decide whether to focus on working out what needs to change in this one (after some time away from it), or start outlining the third (and final) book, to get a proper overview of what things need to be. But will the outline fix the current structure of the second book in my head, or will it show me what it needs to be?

 

Is Genre a Handicap for Writers?

[This is just preliminary ramblings, as my mind flits around the subject]

What’s the point of genre, from a writer’s perspective? Are they just a marketing thing, only relevant to bookshops and the publishing industry? Not if you’re an independent author, who has to consider such things. And if you’re writing for the market, it’s good to know the expectations of the genre you’ll be placed in, so that customers will be satisfied with your book.

Part of the problem for me is that genre seems to be a mashup of different factors from stories, all treated as being the same.

Breakdown

Fantasy, science fiction. These are mainly to do with Setting elements. There are certain types of story more commonly associated with them, but those titles alone don’t necessarily define what will happen in the story. Not until you get deeper into subcategorization, at least.

Detective story, romance. These are the Engines of the story, defining the shape of what events are likely to occur, and what can be expected of the ending (a detective story or mystery would have a reveal, a romance would have a happy ending). It’s possible to not deliver the expected ending, but you know you risk disappointing some readers.

Thriller, suspense. These are more to do with the Pacing. They don’t really suggest any type of ending other than in terms of it needing to live up to the build-up they provide. Maybe literary is also in this category, at the opposite end (nothing much happens, and it may not even have an actual ending).
So that’s Setting, Engine, and Pacing. Are there any other kind of categories they can be broken down into? Let’s look at some random genres.

Caper – This is an Engine. It suggests shape of the story, rather than anything to do with the Setting.

Comedy – This makes me think I should rename Setting as Flavour. Or just question why this is considered a genre.

Crime – Hard to be sure. I’d say the Engine, although crime covers a range of types of story. Then again, the Crime genre is generally interpreted as contemporary, so while a crime might be the Engine of a story, what we think of as the Crime genre is a combination of Setting and Engine, or even more weighted toward Setting.

Dystopian – Again I think what it’s come to mean is too specific. At heart it’s someone (usually a teen) stuck in a broken society, trying to survive, and/or fix the world. While generally associated with science fiction, the Engine of the story could be applied to other settings. But by now the word has such a specific meaning in terms of genre that we’d need another if talking about the underlying Engine.

Epic – While generally associated with fantasy – so epic fantasy has a particular meaning and set of tropes – I think Epic is more to do with Pacing. It also touches on scale and breadth of the story, so maybe Pacing isn’t the best term. It’s about the shape and structure of the story though, rather than the Setting or the Engine driving the plot forward.

Espionage – This feels like a wide Engine definition. There are certain elements of spy stories that could be attributed to Setting, and maybe some elements that could fit a different Engine. So I’m not sure it isn’t actually a Setting, with certain types of Espionage stories being the Engines.

 

There are also genre mashups to consider. I think overall a story can only have one Engine and Pacing pattern, but multiple Setting elements. (Maybe Flavour would be a better title. Or Ingredients. In which case Engine feels kind of wrong).

With that small selection I’ve decided I’ve misnamed two of the three categories I decided upon not far above. That’s some progress, isn’t it?
I probably need to think about it some more.

 

Should I Care? Can I?

Personally, I don’t pay much attention to genre. Even if I consider it, and realise a story isn’t going to easily fit in any, or won’t fit in a popular one, it isn’t likely to affect me. I write what tells me it wants to be written.

Which may be one of the many reasons I don’t sell much, but by this point I’m not sure there’s much chance of me changing.

Revision Anxieties

I got The Border Guard back from the developmental editor. Some bits need clarifying, I removed the third chapter that’d been a late insert, and there was information that needed moving up. There were some other bits that needed work which I think I’ve done enough on, though I’ve reached the point where I just can’t tell. But the main problem remains that I don’t describe enough, or in enough detail.

Descriptions don’t come easily for me. Those are the bits I tend to skim over when reading. It’s simply how my mind works, focussing more on the abstract of plot and dialogue. So even if I do describe stuff, it may not be that interesting. Because it’s not what I want to be writing. I try to counter this, but since I have trouble even telling where I need to describe more, I could easily be missing places I should add more, or not doing enough in the places I do add stuff.

While it was more the details than the overall structure that needed work, I find myself questioning whether my writing instincts are all wrong. Given my lack of success so far, something in my instincts is probably lacking. And I hired an editor to help me get the manuscript into a state that the traditional publishing system prefer, so unless I disagree with something for a reason I’m clear on, I’ll go with her advice.

 

Infodumps

I had tried spreading the information out initially, to avoid slowing the opening (and without being too infodumpy). This involved introducing some ideas but not fully explaining them until later, which I can see is dumb. But rearranging stuff, I’m not sure whether I’ve slowed the early story down. I’ve done at least a handful of passes on the opening chapters to polish the inserts and pare them down to make minimal impact on the flow.

But I’m at the point where I can no longer tell. The point at which I’ve stared at it so closely that I find I can’t really step back to see the larger picture. It is the shape its going to be in my mind, and all I can do is tinker at the edges, polishing it.
I’m not even sure I’m explaining this well.

 

Submission Anxiety

While the edit was generally positive, I can’t help fretting over every detail.

Since this is the first things I’ve written in a while of a commercially acceptable length (90K) I’m going to try the traditional submission route, in hopes of finding somewhere that’ll do the promotion I’m useless at. Which I realise may be a forlorn hope, since all we hear about is publishers increasingly offloading that stuff onto authors. But there’s little traction on the dozen plus novels I’ve self-published, so trying one this way is hardly much of a gamble (he says envisioning a dozen ways in which this could make things worse).

So I’m starting with looking at agents. In the UK. For a fantasy novel. It’s a small pool. Especially since some of the stuff I write is more crime/thriller, so I’d also like someone who could represent a few genres. But I’ll go with fantasy primarily.

Since submissions are generally the first three chapters or 50 pages, those are the ones I’ve been focussing on, going over and over them, again and again. They’re also the ones that have had stuff moved up into them, making them seem more bloated to me than they probably are.

I’ve been switching, with increasing rapidity, between worrying they’re not good enough, to stupid levels of confidence that the genius therein will shine through regardless. Agents surely look for the potential within the work won’t they? Unless mine is the dozenth they’ve had to read that day, and they’re looking for any excuse to decline and move on to the next.

The pace of change of this manic-depressive cycle has gotten so fast that I now seem able to hold both viewpoints concurrently.
So I reached the point where I had to submit it and hope it isn’t as bad as I fear.

 

Anxieties will ultimately stop me ever putting anything out if I listen to them too long, so once I reach the point where it feels like I’m doing things by rote and not taking anything in, it’s time to step away from it. Either for a short while, or releasing it to wherever. I’m reasonably sure it’s in an overall good state, or as good as I can make it barring minor tweaking.

Or I was until I finished that sentence, and I’m again thinking I should have done more. But I’ll never escape that, even for books I released years ago. All I can do is move on to the next project, giving that my attention.

Depression 5: Writing Bad

[WARNING: This is a self-indulgent series of posts in lieu of getting actual help. It’ll probably just be irritating to anyone else]

I’m not a real writer. Apparently a fear of many writers. Which doesn’t mean it isn’t true for some.

To be more precise, it should be ‘I’m not a good writer’. Which is, of course, a highly subjective term.

But I’ve been doing this for over a decade, and it feels like my writing is getting worse. And I’ve yet to achieve any success.

Not that I consider myself a failed writer. A failed writer doesn’t finish the story. I’m just an unsuccessful one. And unsuccessful can change over time.

I’m just not sure I believe it will. Or that I really want it to. I want my stuff read. And I’d like to make a living at writing, so I can continue to do so. But I don’t really have any image of what success would be like, and seem unable to place myself in any such scenario.

I’m not sure if I’m sabotaging myself. I know there are things I’m doing wrong. Basically the marketing. Reaching out to people, which will always be a problem for me.

And I’m sure the reason I can’t sell anything in the short story market is that they prefer idea-centred stories, whereas even if I start off from an idea, the story itself always ends up taking priority for me.

But I’m not sure whether I’m just not a good writer. Feedback from some people I trust is reassuring, though there’s always the concern of how much of that is politeness. A part of me kind of wants a voice of authority to say I’m a bad writer, and should stop doing it. A verification of what I feel deep inside.

Yet while I sometimes feel that about my writing, the next moment I’m completely the opposite. I have written some good stuff. But it’s shallow. It doesn’t necessarily mean anything. But then, what does?

I’m reasonably convinced I have some skills, or at least an inclination. There was one recently popular book, based mainly around it’s final twists. Those twists were similar to ones I’d used in a story a few years back (whose readership may just have gotten into double figures, so it’s purely coincidence of similarly twisted minds). So some of my ideas may be worth something.

Which could just mean it’s my execution that’s lacking. It’d be nice to think that, rather than that it’s all just a matter of luck. A lack in craft could be fixed. Random chance is notoriously harder to control.

That assumes that it’s my craft that’s lacking. But I see writing as being as much about art as craft. And if my storytelling art is what’s lacking, I’m not sure it’s possible to learn.

Ultimately, I feel compelled to write. I’m not entirely sure how much being read really matters. Possibly as part of the having a connection to the world, sharing my ideas. But it’s not the immediacy of a conversation, or an actual interaction.

September Update: Ghost Bullets, New Covers, & Fantasycon

It’s been a while since I did one of these. Mainly because I seldom have much to report.

First off, a progress report on stuff I think I’ve mentioned before:

All Roads Lead to Hell isn’t doing much at the moment. I thought I’d submitted it somewhere, but can’t find the email confirmation. Having done other stuff since, I have little enthusiasm to do anything with it until I decide my self-publishing future. It’ll at least be one stored up if I want to do a fast publishing schedule.

The Border Guard is with the editor, and should be back next month. I’ve a rough outlines for the second book, and even rougher for the third (it’ll probably be a trilogy, because that’s what the story seems to want), but I don’t want to break them down too much until I see what needs changing in the first one.

 

Ghost Bullets

This’ll be the title for the new series, unless I swap it with the title of the first book, The Ghost Gun.

It’s an attempt by me to come up with an open-ended series that I won’t necessarily get bored of. I’m hoping to achieve that by setting it up so that the central character can be replaced whenever I feel like it. It centers on the Ghost Gun of the initial title, and whoever happens to have possession of it at the time.

Once the central idea was in place, the story came fairly easily. The outline wasn’t too detailed before I felt compelled to write it, so revisions will probably require a bit of work.

Then the ideas for the sequel came quickly. And in just over a week I had that outlined and calling to me to start writing.

The initial drafts of the first two books in the series were done in under a month, and I’m forcing myself not to go any further until I have them revised into some kind of shape.

The second one, The Redacted Man, in particular needs more work. I went in with a vague shape of the mysteries I needed to point at, and just threw clues up when appropriate, to be tidied up and made to work in revision. So there’s that to look forward to.

Ghost Bullets will be an urban fantasy series, with a heavy crime influence. In fact the second book may be a bit too light on the fantastic at the moment, but I need a bit more distance to judge it properly.

 

New Covers

I’ve redone the covers for the Grey Revolutions series. They were starting to irritate me.

Here are the new covers:

I’ve also reduced the prices for the rest of the year, with the first book, Grey Enigmas, set to free. Even on Amazon (apparently you need to go through KDP to do that, not the report a cheaper price button on Amazon, which never seems to work).

 

Fantasycon

I’m not starting any major projects at the moment, with The Border Guard due back next month. And I’m attending Fantasycon in a fortnight. It’s the first multi-day con I’ve attended, and I’m not sure how much I’ll get out of it. I have trouble talking to people at the best of times, which is supposed to be a big part of these things. It’s entirely possible I’ll go the entire weekend without having a single conversation, which would feel like a waste. But I suppose attending is the first step.

 

Other than that, I’m trying to knock a novella, The Entropy of Ideas, into some kind of shape where I can try submitting it. And the Glyphpunk series needs new covers (the first book of which is also free at the moment), if I can come up with an idea for them.

I may provide another update before the end of the year. If there’s any progress to report.

Rewrites

A few months ago I took a couple of my early novel off sale, as I’m not confident they’re good indicators of my writing for readers who may never have read my stuff before. Basically, my writing craft has improved (relatively) since writing them, and I’m not sure they’re any good. I had vague plans to rewrite them, to see if they could be improved.

I’m not sure I’m capable of that. Apart from these, I also took another look at the first novel I wrote, but never published, a couple of months ago. Having just done an initial revision pass on Broken Worlds, I find myself in a similar position to where I was after that: I’ve no idea what to change, but I’m sure it needs something.

In the case of Broken Worlds, there are at least a couple of things that probably need changing.

  1. During the large fight near the end, I switch viewpoints a lot. It’s the first time out of the viewpoint of the main character. I could probably redo it to be purely from his viewpoint with little loss. But I’m not sure whether it’d also lose the frenetic chaos.
  2. The structure is very episodic, since I was going for a pulpy feel. Some episodes are smaller than others though, and it feels like it could generally be smoothed out.

Having finished the first pass, I’m sure there’s more that needs changing on a fundamental level. But as with Paragon Protocols (my first novel), I just can’t see what to change. They’ve become so fixed in my mind that it’s by this point difficult to imagine them being anything else.

Anything I could afford spending on editors, I’d sooner spend on my newer work. I’ve been looking at these as shorter projects between the new stuff, but that doesn’t seem to be working out.

I could always try rewriting from scratch. Which could well require serious changes to the structure of the story so that it feels new to me. At which point I have to ask whether it’s worth investing the time, rather than doing completely new stuff.

For Broken Worlds, possibly. It established background elements I’ve used in other books, and espoused fundamental elements of the philosophy underlying some of my work. The latter is the main reason I was so reluctant to take it off sale, and I’d still like to have it out there. If I can’t salvage the book, I’ll probably have to find another way to explore the ideas. Which would mean another thing to stick into the overfull queue.

I don’t know that I could face complete rewrite, anyway. The prospect of the amount of work ahead of you when you start writing a new story can be overwhelming. This lump of a story sits before me, waiting to be consumed one mouthful at a time by the craftsman part of my mind, and excreted as words on a page (virtual or real). Outlining helps view it as more digestible chunks, but the overall mass of it all still looms ahead of me.

Doing so with something I’ve already written once is even worse. It’s Sisyphean. It might be different if there was a chance of them selling, but since that’s pretty much just a fantasy now, I’m mainly doing this for my own amusement. So I’ll probably stick to producing new stuff. Or writing it, since producing implies releasing it to the wild.

 

Endings and TV Reviews

(Mainly a proof of life continued existence post)

 

I seem to have watched the endings of a number of TV series in the last few months. Only one of those listed below actually on broadcast TV (and that probably a bit behind US screenings), most of them being on DVD or alternate sources.

While you can’t really judge a series solely on it’s ending, it obviously play a large part in how you remember it. It’s been years since I’ve watched any Blake’s 7, and over 35 years since the final episode was screened, but I still have that ending seared into my memory (also, I feel old).

It can, of course, depend on the type of show. The more episodic type doesn’t necessarily need as satisfying a conclusion  as a serialised story, the latter justifiably having more expectation on it’s dénouement. Many series these days straddle the two.

One recent series I’m still undecided on is The Mentalist. They dealt with the big bad in the middle of season six, then went on for another season and a half . I can understand wanting to deal with the repercussions of the ending of the main story, but it made the later season feel like it was killing time.

 

Covert Affairs

I kind of wish this had finished with season 4. It’s big bad had been around since the beginning, and gave the series a feeling of a larger story than the season arcs it was composed of. Annie had a great arc for that season, faking her death and operating on her own, and it ended strongly. It felt like a good final act for her story.

But it wasn’t the end. Season 5 was fine, but it was mainly bringing in new plots. Possibly I felt let down by it not addressing some of the issues I hoped from the previous season. I know it was probably complicated by casting issues, but how did Annie deal with explaining to her sister (who hadn’t been around for a couple of seasons, but with whom she would have kept in touch) why she’d had to fake her death. A lot of the series had been based around the relationships, so it just felt an odd omission (understandable, in a way that drags you behind the fourth wall).

 

Continuum

The shorter fourth season made the ending feel a bit rushed, but it was an otherwise satisfying ending to one of the best SF series of recent years.

It was particularly good in playing up the moral ambiguity of who was in the right (or the less wrong) position, and the decisions they made. Time-lost cop hunting time-lost terrorists could easily fall into cliché, but the rounded antagonists helped make this good. And the ending, while rushed, hit the perfect final note of success at a cost.

 

The Following

To be honest, the story contortions probably started fairly early as they tried to keep this going after the first season. It was usually enjoyable, but the morally questionable situations in which the characters found themselves did start to feel like they were coming too fast.

It never really slowed down fast enough to feel more than a slight jarring from all the plot holes, and as long as you didn’t compare it to Hannibal it was enjoyable enough (I don’t know I’d say it was fun though).

The ending tried to give a kind of set up for future stories you’d never see, but for me it felt a bit, I don’t know, unfinished maybe. It made a kind of sense for where they’d taken the character, and was kind of in keeping with the feel of the show, but I’d have accepted a happier ending.

 

Person of Interest

While some moves in this long game seemed opaque, and at times it veered towards the formulaic, this series often managed to shift out of the formula as soon as you got too comfortable, and remained entertaining. Mainly because of the characters.

I’m not sure whether to class it as a hybrid SF/Crime Drama, or SF masquerading as Crime Drama, or whether it even matters.

Even with the final season cut short, they knew far enough ahead that they used it to focus on the main story, hitting all the beats they needed to and providing an ending that just felt right.

 

Penny Dreadful

The end of the final season felt a bit rushed. The entire season felt more disjointed than the previous ones, with having so many of the characters separated, having their own stories without as much interaction. Then it hurriedly brings them all together at the end. It feels like they were expecting another season, but had to quickly tie it all up.

It kind of works, but there were some parts I’d have liked to have gotten more room to breathe.

 

Endings

I doubt there’s much I can learn from these, since they’re so heavily influenced by their medium. Even if they have an ending planned from the outset, the practicalities of such complex collaborations probably require all kinds of compromise – both dealing with input from various sources, and the financial realities of what you can afford to create visually rather than just with words.

If a story is complete over one season, such as with True Detective and similar shows, you have greater control over what can be achieved. Multi-season series are more at the whims of viewing figures and other factors, often ending up unable to provide a satisfying ending, or having to cram so much in that you can feel the artificiality of it.

In prose, you don’t have those excuses for weak endings. It can still be worth thinking about why certain endings work well, though. You simply need to distinguish the story elements from the structure in which they’re presented.

 

 

 

Rejected

I’m undergoing another phase where I think I may as well give up on writing, or at least publishing.

I’ve tried submitting a couple of things over the past few months through the more traditional (or modern versions thereof) methods.

Self-publishing probably requires someone more comfortable with selling themselves to achieve success, which isn’t me. Marketing my books will be a waste of time and/or money without a number of reviews on them to encourage visitors to try them, and reviews are hard to get.

It’s only been a couple of months since I applied my latest book to a few dozen reviewers, so it’s probably still too early to expect much. A few replied to say their lists are too long, or they’re not interested, and a few to say they were interested. But getting reviews seems such a long process without a recognised brand.

The self-publishing route seems to basically boil down to hoping against all reason that your work will get noticed, or being the type of personality who can get their work noticed.

So I’ve tried a few other avenues, in hopes of finding other ways to draw attention to my work.

Those rejections feel more concrete than the general ignorance with which my self-published work is greeted. I can always hold out hope of them being noticed later, but a rejection is more tangible. Even bad reviews can be ignored, when they offer nothing constructive, as just someone disinclined to like my work.

But an actual rejection from someone whose job it is to read such things feels somehow different (and having two in one day doesn’t help). Even if it could just be a matter of taste. None actually say my writing stinks, but is that just politeness?

As with most of my work, they’re of awkward lengths for the traditional channels: there are few venues for novellas, and the novel (by certain classifications) is way too short for publishers to consider.

There are a growing number of independent publishers starting to take advantage of the possibilities eBooks offer to consider wider ranges of material, and it was mainly those I tried. They still have a large number of submissions though, so maybe I’m just not standing out.

I’m left with a couple of novellas and a short novel that are probably in publishable form, but I can’t find the enthusiasm to put them out there. Without some other factor in the mix, there’s no reason to think they’ll have any more luck finding an audience than my previous stuff.

And I’m also having trouble writing new stuff, everything feeling so bland and lifeless as soon as I start the actual writing.

Hopefully the phase will pass. But I’m increasingly certain my work will never really be read anyway, so I may as well give up the extra work of publishing it.

 

Flaws or Features

With every story I finish I seem to see more flaws in my writing style. And then have to wonder whether they’re flaws or features.

For example: I’m not good on descriptions, and tend to make them brief when I do use them. Which means the prose isn’t necessarily as immersive as some might like. Conversely, they don’t slow the story down. So in that way it could be considered good.

If it’s not something I feel I need to, or can, change, then I’d probably have to consider it a feature of my style.

I’m becoming convinced epic fantasy is not what I should be writing, because it doesn’t really fit my style. Or anything that long.

The third part of Dwimmerfall (I think it’ll be four parts) feels like it has too many meetings. It’s an inevitable part of the story, since much of this part is world building based on the disappearing of the dwimmer (magic) that’s so ingrained into civilisation. A couple of viewpoint characters are leaders, and getting stuck in meetings is unavoidable.

Some problems I’ve shown, where the character (either the leaders or another) can go to an example of the failure, and do other things while there. But there’s some stuff where discussing it is more useful for the examination, and I want differing opinions.

In meeting scenes, I try to have some degree of different agendas, but I’m not sure if that’s enough. I don’t necessarily have much real plotting (characters plotting, not story plotting), where the viewpoint character has to get seriously involved and have a sub-plot that occurs during the meeting, or over a few meetings.

I’m not sure whether I should have something like that, or whether it’d slow the story down too much. They aren’t really necessary for the overall story, and I could easily lose control of things if I go too far along that path.

My inclination is that unless such a subplot can actually say something about the situation that otherwise wouldn’t be covered, to leave it out. But I also worry that without the added drama the meeting scenes may fall flat, dragging on without having any real punch.

They’re only in first draft at the moment, and it could be a while before they get any revisions (maybe not until after the first draft of part 4, sometime after I work out what happens in part 4), but it remains a problem I increasing think about: am I writing scenes with too little depth?

Which of course comes from the idea that there’s a proper way to write stories, which is possibly ridiculous. I need only as much detail as is necessary to tell the story I want to tell. Everything else is texture and flavour.

Or is that philosophy simply an feature of my style?

Should I Just Give Up?

[Warning: Another posting in my depression cycle. May include mopery.]

So I had this idea for a crime thriller, and thought maybe this time I’d try the traditional publishing route. Just to see if I could get any kind of traction.

Less than ten days from starting pre-writing to finishing the first draft, and it turns out All Roads Lead to Hell is only 40,000 words. So on the border between novella and novel (by some definitions), depending where revisions take it.

It’d need padding out to twice that length to be acceptable for submission to standard markets. There area a couple of extra chapters that could go in , and there’re gaps in the story where other stuff could be shoehorned. Maybe.

A quick look around doesn’t find many markets for crime thriller novellas, but I could always search further.

For the immediate future, I’m setting it aside to cool down while I get on with other work.

 

I have real trouble estimating how long a story will be. Even after breaking it down into chapters, I seem unable to call on past writing experience to properly gauge such things. And I’m not sure I really want to. The story’s going to be as long as it wants to be, and trying to force it to be otherwise to fit a certain standard seems dumb. Unless you want it traditionally published.

And I seem unable to write things of a commercially acceptable length (as defined by the traditional publishers). I feel part of the problem might be I’m too influenced by movies and television, so my storytelling muscle memory is drawing more from those than from other prose fiction. I’m not sure whether I can unlearn that though.

I also wonder whether writing so fast is part of the problem. I’ve tried slowing my writing rate slightly, but do feel an increasing desperation to produce more in a vain hope of breaking out of obscurity.

 

The not knowing whether I’ll ever achieve any success writing is causing increasing anxiety. I kind of want someone who’s opinion could be subjectively classed as authoritative to tell me I can’t write, and to stop trying. (More so than telling me I can, since I have trouble accepting praise.)

It’s tiring to keep pumping out stories that never find much of an audience. The readership for most of my stories is probably only in double digits (okay, some are in five digits, but that’s the free stuff). And even that might be too optimistic a view, since there’s no way of telling how many have been completed, or even read at all.

 

Of course I have no idea what else I’d do with my existence, so I’ll probably keep writing for now.