Works In Progress Go Boink?

Scientific Progress Goes Boink
Bill Watterson’s classic duo Calvin & Hobbes aptly demonstrating on 10 January 1990 a bit of what I’m feeling tonight.

Scientific Works in Progress Goes Boink?

|| Yes. Yes they do. In the last six weeks I have invested, all told, just under 5,000 words and over 20 hours in my current Work In Progress (#WIP). I am about a third of the way through and I realized last night that I need to just let it go and cut my losses. Fittingly, at least from a nerd’s perspective, I called it at exactly 404 words into Chapter 5: Error 404 – Story not found.

Appropriate enough since the problem stems from trying so hard to convey the right message, or moral theme, that I have lost sight of the story itself. It is why writing it has been so painfully slow, with days apart between efforts and easily, easily, 4+ hours needed for every 1,000 words written (I can do a 1,000 word #FridayFlash from nothing to complete in less than 2 hours). Couple that with the fact that this is itself a reboot from a previously failed effort over 5 years ago, and I need to admit that I have a problem.

The bad news is the problem is me. The good news though, is that the only real problem is me. The story itself takes place in a dystopian future (a shockingly underrepresented SciFi setting I know!). Two societies, starkly different, stand as opposites to each other and our Hero moves from one to the other learning Deep Lessons® along the way. In rather broad terms it has, of course, been done. Nearly to the death I’m sure. There is even, perhaps, a Horse’s ghost currently looking at me askance and asking the equine equivalent of, “Really?” Except of course that my story is different. (“You’re unique, just like everyone else!”)

So the problem isn’t the story itself, or that it’s too trope’y or redundant or anything along those lines, the problem is that I want it to be important. Excuse me. I want to be IMPORTANT. (I considered seeing if WordPress supports the “Blink Tag” for “IMPORTANT,” but decided better of it- you’re welcome ) So as I have been writing, my desired morality has been weighing everything down. I have, essentially, added a huge burden to every character, setting, and plot point. I may as well just have shifted my competing societies to Jupiter for all the extra weight I’m putting on everything! I had to just stop, and recognize what I actually have to do.

See, what I need to do is to trust myself. To allow myself to create City Alpha and City Beta (not their real names) and place my characters in them. Then, let my characters be. Let them interact with their environments. Let them be molded by them, let them become who they are. That is how they become real, have dimensionality and, hopefully, have you, gentle reader, begin to actually care about them. Not necessarily like them, but certainly want to know what’s going on with them.

Then, and only then (blink-blink-blink), can I start fucking with them.

Which is why it becomes a trust issue. I have to trust myself that I am good enough to pull it off. I have to trust that I can string together 10-15 chapters into a single compelling story arc of 10-15 thousands words. I have to trust myself that all the #FridayFlash’s I have done for practice have actually been for something and not just so I could wear the affectation of, “Writer.”

Practically I have to trust myself so much, that I force myself to let go controlling the story, and allow it to happen as it will. I have to trust that my talent, skill, and practice are good enough to guide the story as needed, without smothering it with a smog of artificial profundity. So I will have to start over. I will have to get out of my own way, write in my own style, and focus on building the story from the bottom up instead of the top down.

Metaphorically, I must step into the abyss of my own fears, thereby confronting myself in the mysterious caves of Degobaian Legend. Ultimately what I write will be proffered for sale and I will have to risk my best, truest, and emotionally rawest work to date being rejected for any number of reasons that can all be boiled down to, “not good enough.” Since this is going to be the first story I ever try and sell, the day it is done and I hit submit will simultaneously be one of my proudest achievements and loneliest terrors; it had damn well better be worthy of both.

D. Paul Angel88x31

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6 thoughts on “Works In Progress Go Boink?

  1. I think you just need someone to cajole, er I mean “inspire” you each day to get the writing done. Remember, writing is making the words, editing is making the words not suck. Context and meaning can be added and subtracted later. Just get those daily word counts down.

  2. We writers are so often in our own way. Oftentimes the most important (and most difficult) thing is admitting it. Acknowledging that we are not perfect and that every story will not be our crowning achievement is not easy, but it is necessary for us to write freely and without doubting ourselves. That’s when the real stories are born.

    Great post, thanks for sharing!

  3. Trying to be perfect while drafting can suck the creative juices right out of you. I think you made the right choice. Let the story flow naturally and you will surprise yourself at the result.

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