Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Learning A Hard Lesson

So, I'm in the middle of learning a hard lesson. One which I thought I'd learned already, but apparently, because I'm stubborn and hard headed, I'll need to re-learn several more times before I finally get it.  But, that seems to be the way I am about a lot of things, so what can I do?

Anyway, for most the last year and a half, I've been working on a genre-blend featuring Billy the Kid and monsters. It's gone swimmingly the whole way, because I outlined it first. I was loving it, really enjoying myself and the writing process. I took a break to  write "And I Watered It, In Tears" for Lamplight, and "On A Midnight Black Chessie" for Crystal Lake's upcoming anthology, For the Night is DarkThis made for a very productive, enjoyable summer, and left me ready to dive back into Billy.

But an opportunity came to write a novella for a very esteemed small press. I jumped, because I had an unfinished novella I thought wouldn't be hard to bang into shape. And a novella wouldn't take long at all, I figured, and I'd be right back into Billy. 

Three months later, the novella sprawled into a novel because it felt "incomplete", then, after finishing a REALLY ramshackle first draft, the same thing happened that's happened A LOT to me when it comes to writing the novel:

It totally fell apart. 

I've been working on it pretty doggedly the last two weeks, trying to save it, brainstorming, rerouting the plot, redrafting characters....and coming up with nothing but a big hot mess. I've got a ton of decently written, disparate threads that won't gel, no matter what I do.  And I had to admit a very shameful thing to myself, this morning.

It's not working, not gelling, because I'm not writing a story that's DEMANDING to be written, I'm trying to take advantage of an opportunity, deliver like a professional, and write a story to get published by a really good publisher. 

Maybe I'm splitting hairs.

Maybe I'm acting like an amateur, when I should just "man up" and write something that this publisher will consider.  But I'm afraid that if I write something that I feel less than passionate about, ham-hand it, that could be even worse.

Bottom line: the last three days I've slept in. Haven't bothered to get up and write, and that's a bad sign. That means I'm not excited about the work, I'm not driven by the work to finish.

And, let's be honest: this was an opportunity, but there was no contract. Nothing official, no signatures on any dotted lines, just a "I'd love to read something by you."  Given that: if this thing isn't working, and I'm not excited about writing it, then I need to shelve it and turn back to something that's calling to me, something I outlined, that I feel passionate about.

So. I've emailed the editor, apologized, hopefully not looking like an idiot.

And I'm back to Billy the Kid, at long last.

And I'd like to say I've learned my lesson, finally. About only writing things that I feel driven to write. But, as I've said, I'm a slow learner....