Saturday, April 28, 2007

Fear Itself

So, I confess, I haven't written anything since last Saturday. I have done some hook work, as you know, and a lot of general preplanning (in a discussion with my wife, we came up with some really excellent new ideas for the coming part of the book). I could say that I just wasn't ready to write yet . . . but that really wouldn't be true. I've been afraid.

I didn't fully realize it until today, but getting rejected so much has really made me afraid of writing. Afraid of writing something new and just getting a bunch of rejections again, anyway. It's helpful to realize that this is largely what has been holding me back over the last couple of months, but it's something that I'll have to deal with as best I can over the course of writing this novel.

Rejection is just a fact of writing, and since I never expected it to have this sort of effect on me, it took me a long time to realize that it had. I guess this happens to everyone in such a situation, but I've never had such a lack of confidence in something that was really important to me before. Oh, sure, I've had tons of situations where I've had low or no confidence--I was a pretty decent tennis player back in high school, but I always completely froze up in tryouts and so never made the school team, even though I played top spots in the (admittedly lesser-ranked, but still good) city teams.

I've just never had a problem with freezing up when it came to writing or programming, or anything else purely intellectual or academic. Now that I know what the problem is, hopefully it will be easier to control. I wasn't sure exactly what the problem was until now, and that made it hard to do anything about it. For the rest of this book I'm going to try to keep to a better writing schedule so that a) I actually get some writing done, and b) I don't spend every waking moment fretting about why I'm not writing. So far with ALDEN RIDGE, I've been failing both pretty routinely, though I have had some nice bursts of real productivity.

At the pace that I've maintained over the last two months, it would take me a full year just to write the first draft of ALDEN RIDGE. That's reasonable, in itself, except that would mean I would only be writing for a day or two each week. I'm not okay with that, except when there's a really good reason for it.

So, here's hoping that I'll make much better progress coming up. Tonight I actually did really well and wrote a full 1,667 words. It looks like less if you compare to the graph of last time, but that's because I cut some 350 words from last session. I don't have a specific wordcount goal for the near future, but in general I want to keep to a pace that will have my first draft done in six months or less--at this point, that really should be more than enough time if I'm able to overcome my fears. I guess we'll see how well that goes.

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
18,173 / 95,000 (19.1%)


Rachel V. Olivier said...

You know, there's a romance writing in a writer's club I belong to and she says it can take her 2-3 years to complete a project and that's normal - from first drafting the idea and outline to finally having it finished and revised, etc. And she's been at it for a while, so remember it's a long haul kind of thing. Don't be hard on yourself.

Christopher M. Park said...

Thanks for the encouragement, Rachel. It's not that I'm too concerned about how long it is going to take me to write a book, though--if it legitimately takes me two years to write a book, as it did with THE GUARDIAN, I'm fine with that. But when I spend most of my time feeling like I should be writing yet still avoiding it, and only wind up actually doing any writing 1-2 evenings per week... I feel like I could be doing better than that. That's really what I'm unhappy about, and what I'm trying to work on.

Anonymous said...

Hey Chris,
It's Paul (we talked a while ago)
Don't worry about the rejections and don't worry about how much you write or feel bad about why you haven't written any thing in the last week. Just write. Don't set goals because life gets in the way. Some days I only write 100 words and I figure that it's better than not writing 100 words.
Other days I can knock off 2500 words. I've a few weeks without writing anything, but I am always thinking about the storyline, what should happen next etc. I consider that writing even thought nothing gets on to the paper.
Ten years from now when you and I are guest speakers at the science fiction book expo we'll look back at this and have a good laugh.
As Rachel said, don't be too hard on yourself.


Christopher M. Park said...

Hi Paul,
Thanks very much for the words of encouragement. It does indeed help to try and keep the long view. I definitely have the same sort of experiences as you describe a lot of the time. Fortunately, though I had hit a slump, I seem to have mostly come out of it. I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that this good period lasts a while!

You know, I think maybe bipolar disorder is a requisite for becoming an author. Or perhaps just a result of it. Either way, I still love it.