Time for a new weekly writer’s roundup of my works-in-progress and those ready to read!
This week has had a number of different challenges for me, most revolving around adjustment, change and preparatory work. As I announced last week, I’ve decided to make a go at writing full-time. It’s an enormous life and work style change and a first time experience for me on top of that. This week and last have been about getting into rhythms and learning how to tackle having so much open time to write.
It’s ironic because I’ve wanted more time to write for ages. I fought and sacrificed for every minute to pen a story, and therefore I had focus. I always had to lay out a plan: I need to finish this, edit that, keep moving, keep writing. Now I have huge blocks of time with which to write every day… and the amount of options was overwhelming! I got lost on a vast, open plain after busting out of the forest where my focus was always on the next tree.
I also got really frustrated with my next writing project, a short story called The Unicorn Hunters. I’ve had a draft idea about it for months, although it was a side project until I made the decision to pull Out to Pasture out of collection of seven stories for Libram Aetherea. I needed a replacement for its spot in the book.
The problem was that there were strong thematic similarities between The Unicorn Hunters and my last short story, The Old Man of the Elder Trees. That’s not necessarily bad, but I didn’t want to have two stories in the same book that shared too much in common. Another thing that I realized was that my original outline for Hunters has a number of ideas that I also used and fleshed-out for another story outline: The Accidental Unicorns of Mystic, Maine.
Accidental Unicorns is a wholly different story: It’s set in our contemporary world with humor and adventure as the focus rather than a tale of a place that isn’t on Earth. However, both ideas germinated parallel of the other at the same time… so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that I reused several concepts between the two like lego-bricks from a communal bucket.
To fix things and make The Unicorn Hunters work in the collection, I realized that I had to rework it. Heavily rework it. This took me a week and I became very frustrated because, here I was with all this available time to write and the need to get this book compiled and written… And I’m trying to figure out how to make this story work and revising outlines… and not writing!
The situation did resolve itself eventually, and I learned a valuable starting lesson working my way to that resolution: I can’t force or push my creativity. If I run ahead with an idea I haven’t polished and played with enough, I’m going to waste a lot of time writing material I’m going to delete as I work out better ideas on the fly. In all my scheduling and plans, I had not allotted myself any “Imagineering” time. Reworking a concept so completely that I might as well have started from scratch certainly requires time to do so.
Looking back at my creative process when I was working full-time and writing when I could, it wasn’t uncommon for me to mull-over and craft a story idea for ten or fourteen days before starting. Albeit, I was writing something else while doing that… but never did I just sit-down and instantly hammer-out a story without any play and forethought beforehand.
Upon realizing that lesson and learning from it, I no longer felt so bad or frustrated. I stopped treating it like a race and more like a walk and a sandbox. Come Saturday evening, I had a story brewing that was wholly unlike what I had started with. The elements from Accidental Unicorns that were tripping-up its voice were removed, and the similarities between it and The Old Man of the Elder Trees were gone.
Moreover, I now have a stronger story than before!
One thing that is on schedule is A Contract in Azure and Indigo, with its third chapter going up this Saturday on Aethereal Engines. Last week’s installment ended on a terrible cliffhanger, I know… But for those of you wondering about what has happened to Mame Ama, here is a sneak-peak preview of the chapter’s first page!
The lanky young woman with chestnut hair squinted dubiously. “What? What do you mean?”
Bean raised his hands and shrugged. “I mean… you’re young, Mame!”
The grip of Ama’s hand holding the gap in her chemise closed became tighter. Then she shook her head and the long brunette hair falling straight to her waist. “That’s ridiculous! If anything, I should be older having given up my days!”
Bean watched the young woman’s nose waggle back and forth just above his forehead. Reaching out, his firm grip touched her wrist and raised Ama’s free hand to the level of her eyes.
“Mame Ama, just look!”
She pulled her hand back from his grip with narrowing eyes, then turned it side-to-side as she scrutinized it in better light. Her gaze softened, then became wide as she stopped holding her shirt closed and brought both hands to her face. They were smooth and unmarred, appearing as they had long before the decades of hard work that had left them arthritic and worn an hour before.
Bean flinched as Ama gave out a short shriek.
She grabbed a handful of her brown hair and rolled glossy strands between long fingers unable to find a hint of grey. Ama’s dark brown eyes were still wide as she grasped the supple skin of her unweathered and flushed face.
“I- I don’t understand it,” she said with a hand falling to cover a racing heart.
Bean shook his head. “I’m no more of a wizard than Macule, but I’ll venture to guess this isn’t what he intended!”
Alright, time for me to stop blogging and get back to writing some more fiction! Take care!