I’m sure my title would enrage die-hard football fans, but chances are they’re not reading this anyway. They’re too busy watching eight full hours of pregame coverage. For the record, I don’t hate football, I’m just totally apathetic to it. In fact, unless the athletes are punching and kicking each other, I don’t care about sports in general.
I’d rather talk books.
Months ago, I started working on a novel. Not actually writing one, but "working on" one. Brainstorming. Researching. Outlining. Yada. Yada. Yada.
It didn’t pan out. The story just wasn’t there.
So I started over. Brainstorming. Researching. Yada. Yada. Yada.
"This is it," I told myself. "This is the one." I had a strong enough hold on the story to give a few chapters a try. 20 pages…then 30…then 40…then
Obscenities followed. Loud ones. Nasty ones. I could’ve made Joe R. Lansdale blush. My monitor almost made a trip through the window.
Two days later, I started again. Punching the keys with heat, with anger, with brute determination.
"This time it’ll work."
I had a character I identified with. I had a "big idea" plot. I had a cool ending in mind.
A load of shite.
Plain and simple, I was trying too hard. I wanted something that would catch an editor’s eye. I wanted to sell a book. Problem is, every time I sat at the computer, my shoulders slumped. I was not having fun, and it showed. The pace slowed. Two pages a day turned into two paragraphs. My mind wandered. I wanted to work on something else, something new.
I’ve walked this road before. My hard drive is littered with the first five chapters of a dozen novels. Was I falling into my old pattern, grasping for the shiny new object? The question left me feeling like an unprofessional hack. Worse than a hack, a wannabe.
I saw my future. Ten years from now at Thriller Fest, I’m telling novelists about the short stories I had published in 2006. Then I’m drinking too much, spilling beer on my silver jumpsuit, dying later in a horrible jet pack accident (because it’s the future, get it?).
So what could I do? Give up on the idea? Or push on through? I want to be a writer, don’t I? And writing isn’t always fun. But then again, how do you keep working on something when you’ve lost your confidence in it?
A few days ago, I made my decision. Out with the old, in with the new.
But this time, there’s a difference. I don’t care anymore. I don’t care about catching an editor’s eye. I don’t care about the big idea. I only care about the words on the screen. The book will be fast and furious with over the top characters and bloody, violent fight scenes. In short, I’m writing the book I want to read. And if someone else wants to come along for the ride, that’s just gravy.
So what do you think? Did I make the right decision, or am I taking the easy way out? How can you tell when I project’s not working? How do you know you’re not just facing another roadblock–a simple challenge to be overcome?