Friday, June 12, 2009

Watch as I slowly flake out

By show of hands, who else besides me is a big fat quitter?

I'm talking about unfinished manuscripts, and not the kind where you only write ten or twelve pages, then realize you're not really all that crazy about the idea. I'm talking about significant portions of novels that you've utterly abandoned to the dark and cold basement of your hard drive. Anybody got more than a couple of those?

Cuz yeah -- my Dreamkin story just wasn't doing it for me.

I can't really say what wasn't working, but for the last couple weeks, even when I've done significant writing on it, I haven't wanted to think about Dreamkin. Weird right? I don't know about you, but when I've got a good story going, my spare thoughts are always swirling in and out of it like, um, fog through swiss cheese. (Or something). Instead, my mind has been continuously fixated on this other story idea. The new story idea. The one with all the castle sculptures.

Like these:

Ultimately I couldn't force myself to work on a story that I just wasn't excited about and so I moved on. Despite having written 165 pages on Dreamkin. Maybe I'll come back to it someday, maybe I won't. Either way, the sad truth remains, the little guy's headed to a basement that suffers from over-crowding:

Gameworld Talonshale -- 173 pages
Pipe and Drum -- 115 pages
Hyperkind/Silverwing -- 80-ish pages
Thundergate Tower*

(*average maybe thirty pages each)

My finished novels still outnumber my unfinished novels, so that makes me feel just a tiny bit better, but still. . . geez. . . am I a flake or what? Any of you folks got anything encouraging to say about that?


Today's blog post bonus:

(purty, no?)


Carrie Harris said...

This is the smart decision, my friend. If you aren't feeling passionate about it, how're you going to make other people feel passionate about it? Having said that, so long as you don't burn the thing, you can always send it flowers and reconcile later if the urge strikes. I've abandoned two manuscripts so far. One still languishes out there in the ether; I eventually figured out a twist to the other that made it much more exciting to me, and I finished it.

It just went out on submissions, because I am just that kewl. And you are even kewler, because you play the guitar. So there's nothing to worry about. ;)

Debra Lynn Shelton said...

First of all, LOVE the bonus pic! Secondly, my mantra is "trust your instincts." Like Carrie said, if you're not feeling passionate, why should anyone else? And, I can't believe you've finished more than seven books. You're such a rock star.;-)

Angela Ackerman said...

You might find yourself coming back to it. I've done that before. I think for me, once I get more than 10,000 in, I feel compelled to finish it. I have a novel from 6 months ago and one from 2 years ago--both I plan on finishing but I stopped because I had to switch focus or fell out of love. I don't feel bad when this happens, tho, because I know I'll come back to it.

When the writing doesn't flow, you have to know when to move on. Don't feel like a quitter--you're just going where the creativity is. :-)

Mary O. Paddock said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mary O. Paddock said...

So do you have another idea to turn to? One that excites you more, maybe?

I have exactly two unfinished short stories in my files, that's it. But I do have more than one piece of unedited fiction--short stories I decided weren't worth a re-write, and, as I've mentioned before, one novel which I just hated by the time I finished it.

Kelly Polark said...

I think you made the right decision to move on for now.
Speaking of quitting, are you still off the nicotine?!

Ray Veen said...

Carrie -- You get double kewl points because you actually made me feel better. How to excite a reader when I'm not excited? Indeed.

Debra -- Thanks, buddy. I've written ten but since none are published, I think that kind of makes me the opposite of a rock star. I'm more like the sixty-five year old karaoke singer waiting to get noticed by a big record producer.

Angela -- I hate letting go just because I know I'm not the type to ever come back. I'm always looking towards the next idea on the horizon.

Mary -- I have a kick-ass idea I've been working on. That's part of why I've ditched Dreamkin. Like I said, I've already been cheating on it in my mind, might as well break up with it officially.

Kelly -- I am scant days away from three weeks without so much as an inappropriate sniff of smoke. Feeling good about that.

Anonymous said...

Aw, don't feel bad. It'll just come back and stalk you later. It'll cut your hair in the middle of the night and draw mustaches on your wife with a black felt-tipped pen.

Jilted pieces are like that.

Oh, and CONGRATULATIONS on not smoking! That deserves a genuine prize, right there. Way to go!


Danielle said...

I agree with everyone else (and apparently I need to get online earlier, so that I'm not just repeating other people!).

I've got lots of abandoned projects, both writing and other things. If it's not working, it's not working. Sometimes, I'll go back and finish things, other times, I'll go back, steal the good parts, and make something else. Example? I was knitting a sweater, and it was sucking the joy out of my life. I put it away for almost a year. I tried working on it again, and realized that the problem was that it didn't want to be a sweater - it wanted to be a pillow cover. So now, instead of an unfinished sweater, I have an almost finished pillow cover. Okay, it wasn't a writerly example, but it's the most recent example in my world.

VeeFlower said...

Again with the famous author...he said to put your dead turtles in a file. One day, they may scratch to get out of the drawer. I just love the answers you get from people, BTW, they are all just so wow.

Keri Mikulski said...

I've done this plenty of times.. Can you imagine if you're contracted and don't feel passionate?? Yikes. :)

I always pull from these manuscripts - a scene her or a one-liner there. :) I've learned over the past couple of years, no words written are a waste. :)

Jewel Allen said...

We can be flaky together.

I have about three stories all fighting for my attention right now. When I get bored with one, I move on. At the rate I'm going, I'll have three novels done within the next little while.

That's the hope anyway. :-)

K. M. Walton said...

Every writer abandons projects. It's what we do - part of our creative flow. I would not call you a quitter. You are a thinker and a creator, like all writers. Wipe that crappy label off of your forehead and accept the ebb and flow of your ideas. It's way less pressure!

I have three finished novels and 6 others in various stages of my creative process.

BT said...

We're not quitters.

I say we because I've just put away my latest manuscript when I'd written over 50,000 words of it!

I have the outline and all the first draft chapters tucked away next to the 130,000 word first draft manuscript I did a couple of years ago.

I've learned a lot from both of them. One day I may crack them open and dust off the cobwebs but it doesn't matter if I do or not in the end.

We are writers, so we write. When the flame of inspiration burns bright, we get to the end, when it doesn't we put it away and wait for something better, although it's usually because of something better we put it away in the first place.

We continue to learn and grow, and produce good stories. Time will tell if we churn out great stories, but do we care - nope, we write anyway.

So don't beat yourself up over it. Move on to the castles story, or the next one, or the one after that. It's like panning for gold: hard work, but the nuggets are there to be found if you stick at it.

colbymarshall said...

Waves hand around! MEMEMEMEEM Pick me!!! But, no, seriously, I would worry over it though if I wasn't able to finish ANYTHING, but I have to find the idea I'm excited about writing, and if it takes me 13 or 24 beginnings to get there, as long as I hit the right idea, I'm good!

Serena Woods said...

I'm an absolute flake, too. I love my ideas, but have yet to stick to a single one. This doesn't seem to be the problem you're having, but I'm terrified that I don't have anotherbook in me. I'll start (have started) several, but have only finished one. One way or another, I hear ya.

Ray Veen said...

Mercedes -- I'm pretty sure somebody dipped my finger in warm water the other night. I won't say what the end result was, but I do thank you for the hot tip - we're sending a cruiser over to question this Dreamkin character.

Danielle -- Your sweater example is great. I had to do a lot of research into dreams, dream symbols, dream phyiology, and all that kind of stuff - surely that'll all come in handy in future stories. I think I'll let Dreamkin keep it's central concept though - it's the kind of thing that needs its own dedicated story.

Vee -- Dead turtles... hmmm... was this perhaps spoken by Mr. 'Murder-your-darlings' Stephen King? Or was it that same 'I-can't-remember-who-said-it-but' guy?

Keri -- So you really slit their throats and bury them in your yard? I guess that makes sense, considering you're under a lot more pressure once you have an agent and/or a publisher. I don't know about you, but I no longer feel like I can write whatever strikes my fancy -- I feel like my next book has to be the best book ever.

Pink -- You already have like two complete, right? So if these others all get done at the same time, do you have a plan for how you're going to query?

KM -- You are a thinker and a creator, like all writers. Wipe that crappy label off of your forehead and accept the ebb and flow of your ideas. -- This was some extremely helpful and comforting advice - thanks.

BT -- When the flame of inspiration burns bright, we get to the end, when it doesn't we put it away and wait for something better, although it's usually because of something better we put it away in the first place. -- This is my situation exactly. Thanks for being so astute, and yes, I will keep on "panning for gold".

Colby -- Ah yes, your quitter-ness in noted. I suppose it is all a huge waste of time if you're not excited about the idea. Like Carrie said, "If you aren't feeling passionate about it, how're you going to make other people feel passionate about it?"

Serena -- You CAN write, though. And I think you're a natural story teller. I have no doubt that there are more books in you. Maybe some fiction inspired by real life events? Whatever you decide to write, though, I will read, and most likely love.

Suzanne Casamento said...

I think the fact that your completed novels outnumber your abandoned pieces is seriously encouraging.

You noted seven of them.

That means you finished more than seven. That makes you waaaaay cooler than me.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, you could waste a lot of time on something that sucks.

Ronald L. Smith said...

You've written a LOT. At least you're WRITING. That's the important part. I wish I had unfinished novels lying around. Well, I have a couple, but no more than maybe 30, 40 pages.

You are not a quitter, but a determined perfectionist.

Frank Baron said...

Ray, you're simply growing as a writer. You're recognizing dead ends before stubbornly painting yourself into one. (As a fellow pro, I can, of course, mangle metaphors with impunity.)

And you're still a young man. In a decade or two, you may find that your unconscious has continued working on some of those stories, or a new slant will introduce itself and you'll end up reworking a couple with fresh enthusiasm.

Or not. Ya never know. Writing and writers are weird. You can quote me.

HUBBYMAN said...


Anita said...

What did you decide to use?!