12 April 2010

This One is For Me

I started a new novel last fall and haven't gotten very far on it. One reason is that as a panster, it's intimidating to sit down and try to "squeeze something from nothing"... when you have no clue where this story is going. Or that if you do have an idea, you're not sure how you'll get from Chapter 1 to what you do know, which might be chapter 14 (or thereabouts, because you can't even know the amount of chapters because you don't know anything). Right now I have a lot of conflict and two full chapters, some images, subplots, and characters who will appear in the future but I'm not sure what their roles will be. Despite the little bit I do have, I feel like the majority of it is just one giant hole. And it yawns in front of me, taunting me with the threat of NOTHING EVER HAPPENING--EVER.

Then, there's also the feeling I have that this story is going to go somewhere I don't want it to go emotionally. There, I said it. This story is personal. Not that I've ever written anything that isn't. But it's... how do I say it... current. I have a feeling that writing it is going to be less pleasant than the time I lost my toenail due to the wrath of a heavy door (and my weak, four-year-old arms). Or maybe it won't be current at all. Maybe it's just the threat that it is. I always try to feel what my characters are so that I'm into the story. Maybe I'm just afraid of the depth of that emotion.

But in talking with a friend a few weeks ago, I realized that I was putting unneeded pressure on myself. Because I've been trying to follow the advice out there--that while I'm waiting for something to happen, to keep writing so that you can say you've finished something else, are working on something else, etc. Only I ended up overwhelmed of the huge emotional jungle in from of me that I will have to get lost in as I write this story. But I forgot something important:

There's no one waiting with baited breath for this novel. No, really, this is a good thing. I'm not contracted. I'm not agented. Depending on the outcome of the two contests I entered, I'll know how to proceed with my completed stories. But I have no deadline, no one impatiently waiting for the next book to spill from my heart.

Maybe this one is just for me.

Or maybe it's not. Maybe I'll get to the end and be able to release it. Maybe it'll end up being something worthy of publication. But I'm going to write it because it's a story I need to get out, even if I don't know it all right now. So I'm writing. And while it doesn't make logical sense for me to write a novel that I don't know if I'll even put out there, I need to write this one.

That is, if I ever figure out what's happening.

Is anyone else at the beginning stages and frustrated?

See y'all Wednesday!

22 comments:

  1. Kristen - I've have the EXACT same epiphany and it is SO freeing! I'm not contracted yet either....so why do I put so much pressure on myself to hurry up and get things done? It's like I'm racing an invisible, made-up timeclock!

    I hope this story teaches you whatever it is you need to learn about yourself. I hope it blesses your socks off!

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  2. There are times I don't want to go "there" emotionally, but then God can't do what He wants to either in me. He is gentle and wants great things for you. Hugs :O)

    www.dianeestrella.com

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  3. This takes discipline, not only to work on the story, but to get to that place of emotion where you can pull it from your gut and put it on the page in such an authentic and freeing way it helps and doesn't hurt.

    I'll be wanting updates.
    ~ Wendy

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  4. I've been there so many times. It's why I have several incomplete projects lying around. :)

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  5. Kristen, I am in exactly the same place you are right now with a story I'm working on. I haven't a clue about plot, characters. Just a voice that came to me asking me to tell their story. My writing coach is helping me with process, not content, so I have very few words down. I'm just learning to trust myself and the process. If this is a story that is inside of you and you feel you need to get it out, just allow it to emerge. Don't worry about anything else like publication. Let it be just for you for now.
    Karen

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  6. I have a short story suffering from the ailment you speak of--"don't wanna go there". I've been totally blocked writing the ending because I know there will be some ugliness I don't want to walk through to get there. Without deadline pressure, it is nice to be able to pray through it and know God will continue to shed light on this area of struggle and will in time give the courage to be honest.

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  7. I could have written this post a year ago. I might have, actually, only not so elegantly.

    I, too, am in the middle of a book that takes me to places I sometimes don't want to go. I started it 15 months ago and had to put it down for a while to get some space. It's made it easier now.

    It's amazing how we put ourselves in a box about what we have to write and how soon. I love that books have been around forever - will be around a lot longer. Take the pressure off a bit. :)

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  8. Kristen, I feel your pain. I, too, have been there. Staring at the blank screen can be intimidating as can knowing you're about to pour your heart out and that it may hurt--a lot.

    Like you, I was a pantser. Was. I've recently embraced my OC side and converted to plotter, and that has made a world of difference. When I sit down to write, I consult my plotting pages and know where I'm heading. I also know ahead of time which scenes are going to be intensely emotional, so I can brace myself. I no longer experience as much angst.

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  9. Yes, I'm at the beginning stage. Except, I'm a total plotter. But while I was plotting, I felt like that at times. And now, I'm trying to figure out the tone I want for the story before I write more than a few chapters. You'll get there!

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  10. I had a simple thought today. I've been racing along side my peers trying to work at their time tables instead of my own. Trying to get the bones of the story down without working in any order. Well, this does not work for me.

    I'm rewriting the first 14 or so chapters on the book to be cleaner and more organized. Right now I'm on chapter 3 and I love the new flow to the story.

    (Work heartily as unto the Lord and not man.)

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  11. I'm not at the corner of Beginnings and Frustrated now, more at the middle of Beginnings and Frustrated!! LOL.

    Kristin, I will pray that God shows you the right path.

    Hey, remember that thing about the Audience of One?!!!

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  12. I'm definitely there right now, with 2 projects actually. I agree with whoever told you not to put pressure on yourself, but I don't think anything you write is just for you. Like Patti said: it's for an Audience of One. He'll love anything you offer Him. :)

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  13. I'm waiting on what I hope will be my final critique of my current baby! While I wait, I've been trying to decide if I'm ready to start a new project - I vacillate! :-)

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  14. I'm at the end of one project and in the middle of another and at times still feel that way, except I wonder if the words I've written are any good.

    Keep your head up.

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  15. Yes, I'm at the beginning stages with a project and it sounds like you have a lot more done than I do! Great perspective, I think that I need to adopt it too.
    Blessings,
    Karen

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  16. Not at that stage right now, but I've been there and know how it is! Not fun. Sometimes it's good to just sit and rest.
    Are you sure you're not a plotter though??? *grin* It might help to do some kind of plotting thing and see if it helps spark an idea. :-)

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  17. Hi Kristen -

    Maybe we should start a Pantser's Club? I'll be a charter member. LOL!

    I've found it helps to do research. On my third manuscript, "Lost & Found," I researched occupations. It helped me with fleshing out my MC's personality. While I'm not pounding the keyboard at the moment, I do have several chapters written and know the outcome.

    And...I pray...A LOT.

    Blessings,
    Susan :)

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  18. "I realized that I was putting unneeded pressure on myself..."

    And now you can let yourself off the hook. Take care, you! And follow your dream, but at your own pace. Find what works for you.

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  19. I'm about to be there. I am hoping to start a new story soon. Maybe...I'm still waffling over finish revising my first. ;)

    This next time, though, I am going to write a detailed synopsis BEFORE I get started, so I don't flounder. I want a map to show me where to go. :)

    Good luck! God will see you through it!

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  20. Sorry it's frustrating right now, Kristen, but I know you can push past it! There are always hurdles to jump over and hoops to jump through, whether the story be pantser or plotter. But the best part is when everything clears up and you see the answer right in front of you. It will come. Keep going, girl!!

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  21. I'm in the same boat. Although at times it's nice to have my WIP be for my eyes and the Lord's only for now. Perhaps someday...

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  22. Sometimes I feel like a story is like being pregnant. It grows inside of you slowly. Then, all of a sudden, you feel a need to push.

    When you finally push the story out, you are so happy that you don't even care if it's ugly. It's your little baby and you love it no matter what anyone else thinks.

    Happy pushing!

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