Thursday, February 28, 2008

So many stories, so little time

When I began writing "the book" several years ago, I didn't see quite past the end of that first work. After all, I'd never finished a book before. I wasn't even sure if it could be done. But about halfway through, after I realized that I really liked writing, that the end was in sight, and that, given great leeway by my family I might actually like to make a go of the writing thing, I began amassing book ideas. After all, agent blogs touted the idea that agents like to see that you already have something else in the works. I guess they like a regular paycheck too.

I began to write ideas down everytime I thought of something that might make a good story and stuff them a little blue index card filing box (enough adjectives for you? I could add that it was faded blue...). I think some of them are intriguing ideas. Some would be amazing if I could figure out how to flesh them out. Some are already dated. And some of them are plain trash. But there they are, all ready for their time in the sun.

January I wrapped up the rewrites, sent my plea out into the world, and marked February 1st as the day to start researching my next attempt. Did I go to the box full of ideas? No. I had this great idea that grew out of a game my kids made up. I watched them and thought, that would make a great series of books for kids! As a bonus, it would be shorter, less intense, and much lighter fare than my last writing. Fun, in short.

And it has been. Fun, I mean. I get to read lots of kids' books, and books about pirates, and eavesdrop on kids conversations, and uncover a whole different world of agents who deal primarily with middle grade and YA books. Different is always fun.

Except when it isn't. Fun, I mean. Because, as it turns out, I'm a bit lost on this project. I'm full up on enthusiasm. I've got my kids and husband throwing ideas out at every turn. I have piles of books with great information. But I can't write. While it seems like it would make a great story, when I sit down to outline it, it's all foggy. I can write the words, start the story, but where it's going is beyond me. And though I think it should be fun, though I want it to be fun, it just isn't.

Of course, I can't let it go. I am obsessive that way. I've gotta finish what I start. But in the meantime, another book has taken hold of me. When I am driving, shopping, watching TV, pretending to have conversations, this book is writing itself in my head. It is adult. It is content heavy. It is going to hit close to home. But it wants to be written.

I don't think I can write both at the same time. Time constraints, for one. But also, they are very different books, and I kind of live in the world of my writing, and to have a leg in both of those worlds wouldn't leave me with a leg in my real life. So which do I abandon? Do I force the one I've started, or leave it by the wayside to pursue something which will no doubt take longer to write and a little piece of my soul?

I wish I had the answer. I'm a bit afraid if I say I'm going to finish the first of the series, my deeper, more important story will somehow fade and be gone when I come back for it.

And to think, neither of these is in my little, faded, blue, index card filing box. Obviously those ideas aren't going to see the light of day anytime soon. Except when I open the lid every day to stuff a few more in.

Did I mention I'm obsessive?

And as a complete aside:
Some interesting stats:
My completed novel, according to MS Word, has a reading level of 5.8. (I think I know why but I won't comment on that now.)
My newly started upper middle grade has a reading level of 10.7.

Go figure.


  1. Okay, I'm going to stick my neck out and give advice.

    I think you should write the one that has gotten into your head and won't let go. I do believe that some stories want to be written. I have on going on right now. I wanted to write the sexy fun rock star horse trainer freak show novel but it was like walking through pudding. Then this very disturbing nasty story poured itself into my head one night when I couldn't sleep and demanded my attention.

    So I started it.

    Right now I'm editing (again!!!) but I know what's next in line. I've written notes and outlines and have quite a few words into already. It's not a pleasant story, but neither is the current one. Believe me, the one I'm editing now has given me trouble. (haha, that's in its title) and I've spent the last year realizing, bit by bit, that if I leave out the uncomfortable bits it's just a story about kids partying. Boring. Without the difficulties, it's nothing.

    It is so hard to write sometimes, but I think it's more damaging to not do it justice.

    Gah, this got long. Sorry! Now go write.

    And thank you so much for your comment today. Really means a lot to me... thanks.

  2. I knew you'd say this. I read your blog. :) I know about how hard you are fighting for a story that wants to be written. I knew as I was writing, but still it is good to hear it.

    I think stories aren't really made up by authors. They are already there. They just need someone to tell them.

    The pirates are the story I want to make up. This other one is the story already there.

    Thank you for your words of encouragement, and your advice. It's good "knowing" someone else who is sort of in the same place.

  3. Yeah. All of that.

    But I don't think you should give up on your pirate series! Set it aside, but let it simmer. Maybe later on it'll come easier.

    I'd like to know someday where this alternate universe is, where all these stories exist, that people like us tap in somehow and collect them. Don't you feel sometimes like you're getting to know everybody there???

    What a relief that we're not alone in this!

    Just so you know, the Very Difficult Story That Wants To Be Told is simmering while I re-edit Trouble...and while it sits it's really developing. I don't think it'll be so hard to write when I get back to it. I've had time to accept that it's mine to tell.

    It's all gonna work out for us!!!!yayayayaya!