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Thursday, February 25, 2010
7:14 PM | Posted by Maureen | | Edit Post
You ever have that feeling that you might have bitten off more than you could chew? I know, it’s a well-known saying, but I think it can also be used to illustrate the writer’s dilemma.
I’m creating worlds, as I’ve mentioned before…(blogs are by definition supposed to be about personal experience, right? I worry sometimes that I’m being a big egocentric, always writing ‘me’ blogs…)
OK, for the sake or being different, let me talk about some other writer. Some other…unknown writer. She starts a story…tra la, la, la, la. Things are going along swimmingly. Great story, fun characters, nice plot… La, la, la. La. L…a.
Ooops. Ran out of plot at 65,000 words. Uh, this is supposed to be a big book. Hmmm. Well, this isn’t so much too big a bite as not really enough to satisfy. (What do they call that on the Food Network or Bravo’s Top Chef? Some French word that is supposed to mean one bite. Scar a bouche? (A prize for whoever knows this word!) Or for those of us uncultured…a snack.)
The market is tough for a manuscript this…uh, short. (Unless the eventual folderol known as the Harlequin Mess ever gets straightened out. Harrumph.)
OK. So, this writer says to herself, “Chance…” Uh, I mean, “Self! You need to do something to fatten this puppy up. It’s a good story, it’s a fun story. The characters are cool. Let’s get going!”
Self re-opens the document and begins to work on her 65k. Decides that isn’t really the ending…it was too quick. Too easy. She throws in more angst, more drama, another killing, kidnapping, oooh! Yeah, I’ll add a bigger villain! I mean, she adds a bigger villain! An über villain! Not just a threat to the heroine, but a threat to the WORLD!
On a roll! Really moving now! Yes! Toss in this plot line, this secondary couple! This… Wow. This has gotten a bit…large. From a snack to a buffet table.
Now, I like a buffet. I mean, she likes a buffet. And the market is better for a more fully developed manuscript. What market there is at present.
The rewrite begins, because this buffet needs a theme, a sense of organization. The entrees need to be near the end of the line, the deserts at the end, the salad at the beginning… (And I’m off on another metaphor! Damn!)
The gist of this blog is about starting projects that grow out of control. (Like this blog.) I do watch those cooking shows and time and again, it’s the chef that starts out too complicated that gets booted off. Or, as the picture illustrates, you start off thinking you can tackle this and then…wow, that is a big ship! And we’re small pirates.
I feel this way in general about writing at least once a month. That I’ve started something that is way too big for me. Then I get over that. But the Work In Progress will loom up with a similar theme… I’ve started something that is way too big for me. I get over that. Editing? I’ve started something…
You get the picture.
Everyone has these feelings. Every time we start an endeavor that seems overwhelming in the attention it needs. I’ve been guilty, many times in my life, of starting something with the best of intentions and then sucking at the follow through. Sometimes it works out anyway, despite my own unique way of running-away. (My house, for example…it’s still going up in value, even in this market… I live ½ from the Monterey Bay. I could let the walls fall down and it’s still going to be worth moolah.) (No, I’m not letting the walls fall in, but the paint is bad, the outside is two-toned, the yard is a jungle (and not in a pretty way…) … we redid the kitchen, never cook…. Blah, blah, blah.) Best of intentions, rotten follow through. (If I did the follow thru, the value would really climb! Whoop!)
Other endeavors I’ve managed to run away from? Making jewelry. I liked forging, soldering, sawing, filing… Casting. What was it I didn’t follow through with? Well, I really sucked at polishing. And pretty much sucked at marketing. But the big downfall was polishing. The buffing, the compounds, the patience to make something shiny instead of just…sorta shiny. Me? Sucked. Me? Don’t make jewelry anymore.
Singing. I like to sing. I have a good voice. I took classes when I moved away from my beloved, afore-mentioned, voice instructor. But…no follow-through. Didn’t look for someone who would like a voice to go with that guitar, that piano, that mandolin. Didn’t reach out, find venues for open mics…look for people who might need a voice to go with that… Uh huh. Me. Rotten follow through. I sing in the car now, that’s about it.
Now, I’m writing, and working so blessedly hard at not sucking with follow through. I’m learning how to polish a MS. I’m learning how to talk to editors/agents…write those awkward letters… “Remember me? You requested a partial from… Have you had a chance…”
Sigh. I think I suck at it, but I’m doing it. I sent some stuff out way too early…but I’m not going to just pull it. I love A Caribbean Spell, and I’ll push it until I find someone willing to work with me on making it sparkly. (Thanks fer the feeback, Q!) And I work to make it better periodically. And I work very hard at making sure the next manuscript I put out there is closer to perfect.
I constantly fight the feelin’ that I have bitten off more than I can chew. That I have a tiger by a tail. That this ship has too much sail… (I love metaphors!)
So, your turn! You feel often like you’ve over-reached yourself? Do you see a pattern in your life of being a bit…overly ambitious? True or not? (Because in truth, we are all brilliant and sparkle like the stars we are.) You know where your weaknesses lie? Am I so over the map I’ve lost you? (That’s OK, I get lost, too.) You ever read something where you can tell the author really overdid it with that buffet? You juggling too many chainsaws? (Can I fit in another metaphor?)
Labels: Loader's Logic (2nd Chance)