Saturday, October 8, 2016

Driving Myself Crazy

Courtesy of Pixabay.
To write, or not to write, that is the question. Specifically, I am referring to what is currently my second novel. I suppose every writer goes through this every now and again, but I never really had this much doubt at any point about my first one.

When I started writing the first one, Escapes/Out in the Garage, I had no idea what I was doing, and that shows in the final version (and the fact that I published three editions within a year of it being first published). Even though I worked hard to make it better as I learned, there are some things that you just can't overcome, and sometimes that means you just have to give up on a manuscript. For better or worse, I didn't do that the first time around, and while I am proud that I completed it and put it out to the world, I know that it isn't perfect and never can be, no matter how much work I put into it or how many changes I make. I have reached a point that I am content with it, and how it is now is just how it is going to remain.

That being said, this current novel doesn't have any of those problems. I can say honestly, it is far and above better than that first one. For one, I have spent the last several years working to improve my writing and learning everything I can about literature, and I have a good understanding of the process and what it takes to complete a manuscript and get to a final draft I can stand behind. While I am sure I will continue learning and continue growing, and that someday I will look back on what I am writing now and will be able to assess it as I am doing now with what I have written previously, the writing I am currently producing is pretty good. I am finally really honing in on my style and figuring out what stories I want to tell.

The problem with this second novel, then, is less of a problem and more of an excuse. In short, it is literary fiction, set in something relatively close to the real world. There are elements of surrealism throughout, particularly through the second half, and as with most of my writing, it has a bit of a postmodern leaning, as well, which is subtle but still exists. That might just be the postmodern times in which we live, though. Anyways, the reason why I want to discontinue writing it, in spite of having already written 25-30k words, is that I am going in more of a science fiction direction.

While it is relevant both to my life and the world today, it doesn't as accurately reflect my style and the direction I want to go. Of course, I could make it more weird and up the surrealism another few notches, but around the time I seriously started working on it, I also developed another novel idea more in the vein of what I am looking to write. At the time, I wanted to "take my writing more seriously" so I decided to focus on writing the more serious work first.

Since then, however, I have had a number of flash fiction stories published, and they are all in more of the science fiction/postmodern direction I want to go, which makes me want to either go back to that other idea or start something new entirely (which I have also sort of, technically, done). Additionally, the next flash fiction chapbook I am releasing (sometime early next year) is definitely solidly in this new direction. While it's not really that new (see "The Bananamen Prophecy" from my short story collection, Tales from the Fringes), it is the direction I want to go because it is more my style, more what people want to read, and more fun to write (and read).

When it really comes down to it, the only reason that I am thinking about finishing this, what could be my second novel, is that I have already written a significant portion of the first draft, and it is actually much better than my first novel. If I do finish it, it will be the last of this sort of writing that I do for a while, maybe ever. If I don't, I could always come back to it someday, when I am feeling stuck creatively, and I want to change directions (if that ever happens).

Of course, this could just be me making excuses. I could just be dragging my feet, and I really just need to finish it and not worry so much about these things. My career as a writer is what I make of it, and maybe this isn't where I want to go, as a writer, it is where I am currently, so perhaps I should not get ahead of myself? Perhaps I should just stop thinking about it and start doing something, anything... These things, no matter which one I do first, aren't going to write themselves.

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