Up until now, my writing efforts (and publications) have been limited to writing short stories and readers letters.
True – I have also had some academic articles published, but, as these were a prerequisite of obtaining my doctorate and were for a very specific audience, I saw them more as a part of the education process, rather than as writing for publication in the ‘I am an author’ sense. So I’m not considering my academic work in this stream of thought. But anyway… back to the topic in hand. 🙂
I have always found writing short stories relatively easy. That’s not to say I haven’t struggled with the concept of getting a full story across to the reader in a very concise form, but the ‘shortness’ of the exercise seems to suit my frame of mind.
Likewise with writing ‘readers letters’ to magazines. I loved doing this. The ability to invent myself again and again as a different character was very appealing to me and it also meant that the subjects I commented on required only a minimum of research (after all, in readers letters opinions often matter much more than facts…). So, once in the flow of things, I could be several different people on the same day and discuss a whole range of subjects.
Sure, being many different people and writing for a vast number of magazines did require a very large filing cabinet and maintaining a very complex spreadsheet, plus several different email accounts. The writing, re-working and submission of my short stories also required similar organisation. But the process of writing involved did suit my butterfly mind.
(At this point, some may say that writing as many different people also shows signs of a very split personality, but that’s up to them. I’m as sane as the next person, whatever that means…. :))
But now I am in the throes of writing a novel…
At the moment, flitting from one subject to another isn’t a problem. If I get bored writing one scene, I can work on a character or on the finer points of the plot. I can also go off and do some more research.
But I am noticing that my research often takes me to places where I can procrastinate rather than actually research, and this leads me to different forums where I will join in with the conversation… or else something will switch on a light bulb in my head and I’ll feel obliged to tweet about it, or to write a blog post…
And as to working on characters and plot, I am finding that too much re-working is making my characters unable to fit the scenes I have designed for them. And, as I said when I wrote My Novel Is Turning Into From Dusk Till Dawn, the plot of my novel is moving to places I hadn’t envisaged.
So, I am beginning to get that sinking feeling that not only will this novel never reach the submission stage, but, even if I do complete the whole thing, putting all the (very) disparate parts together will be problematical to say the least!
There is also something else to consider…
While I am procrastinating as I write my novel, no short stories are being written (apart from an almost finished horror one…). That equals no (eventually) published works and therefore no payment for all this work I am putting in. I know that many will say that the writing process is not about payment but about writing itself, but I have bills to pay. 🙂
Nevertheless, I would love to be a published author of a novel, a large, ‘keep the reader interested to the bitter end’ type of novel, but I have yet to decide whether this is just about ego rather than about reality. And, as becoming that type of author will require much more self-discipline, I am still wondering whether this would actually hurt my writing style, or improve it (or is that simply my excuse…?).
However, as this has been more of a ‘write down your thoughts and see what turns up’ type of post, rather than a statement of a concrete decision, I am still undecided as to my next move.
Perhaps I’ll do some more research while I think on this… 🙂