Writing is hell. Even on a good day. One thing it has taught me ever since I began is that nothing goes according to plan. Even if there’s no good reason why it shouldn’t, even when the plan went perfectly and it’s done and it’s everything you saw in your head so all you need to do is, you know, do it again.
The latter has been my lesson during the past year.
I published ‘Count Your Crows’ and I loved it. I also hated it, and felt indifferent toward it, all usual emotions I experience when I’ve completed something I’ve slaved over with blood, sweat, and tears. I was ready to work on the next one, and I wrote it.
About five versions of it. All 50k words or more.
And I couldn’t use any of them.
Sometimes stories are like that. Sometimes they don’t work out, and so you have to figure out if they’re worth reconstructing yet again, or if it’s time to put them away for good.
I took time to think about it. I worked on other projects, other characters. But I kept coming back to Fred and Taz, so I decided to approach their tale again, but I had to rethink that approach and the conclusion I came to is this: their story won’t be a novel.
I wanted it so badly to be a novel. To be a series of novels. To see book after book, thick ones, on the shelf at a bookstore. I wanted it to take both hands to hold the book open while reading.
Because the novel is the standard, right? That’s what people consider real writing, real work. And saying you write novels is just so much more impressive.
But I’m not good at writing novels. The scope is too big for my attention span. I lose threads and get burnt out. I end up tangled in a web of my own making, and fixing it doesn’t so much require patching as it does a jug of kerosene and a match.
But I’m good with short stories. After talking with another writer who knows my work and my work habits, I had to admit that writing shorts was more within my skillset than a novel. I can certainly write a novel if I push myself, but I get far more joy out of writing short stories, out of pulling my characters’ headspace into hyper focus. I can also finish a short story, and in more reasonable time, which goes a long way to preserving one’s sense of sanity in this precarious profession.
So that’s what I’m doing. I’ll be taking ‘Count Your Crows’ off of Amazon soon to replace it with the revamped collection of short stories for Fred and Taz that is 50% completed. As of today I have 5 stories fully finished for the collection. I started writing them April 1st.
So, that’s the update on what I’ve been doing since I posted last. Writing is a bumpy journey that is certainly not linear, or even well paced, but I still love it, even when I want to strangle myself for loving something so contrary.