So my dear friend susan402 has made a call for me to join her in entering the novella contest at Brava Authors. My immediate thought was “no, novellas are too short” (they tend to be about 30k +/- 5k words). Stories for me are all about the characters. My style is laden with detail and backstory. Short fiction has never been my forte. In truth, a novella is my idea of a short story! My other initial reason for refusal is that I feel compelled to stick with only ONE (or maybe two…) projects this year because it has become increasingly important that I finish something in order to begin shopping it for publication. The last book I finished and shopped was written during my high school years. I’m 27 now. Gah! Granted, in the last decade I’ve finished a bachelors and masters degree, gotten married, moved eight times and started about 30 different novels. But I haven’t FINISHED anything. Some of that’s been lack of time. But to my husband’s and friends’ eternal frustration, I can’t seem to buckle down and stick with ONE piece. I’m constantly coming up with new ideas and displaying a very pronounced case of ADHD when it comes to my writing, which is so incredibly unlike me in any other area of life.
The clinician in me is making me stop for a moment today and question why it is I have this habit. It has been suggested that I am afraid of finishing it. I don’t think that’s the case. More likely that a story is never finished to me, as a song is never completed to my husband’s satisfaction. I always see room for improvement or change. At some point you simply have to declare “ENOUGH!” and throw up your hands and put it into the hands of Fate (or hopefully an agent). Another reason is that I have an active imagination. I frequently come up with ideas for characters or a scrap of dialogue or a general plotline. And I usually feel compelled to run with it for a while–to get it down while it’s there and fresh and the words are beating with frantic hummingbird wings to make it to the page. It’s a heady drug, that sense of urgency and power of having the words THERE. So it’s unsurprising that I am more inclined to follow it when things aren’t flowing as well on whatever WIP I ought to be working on. I also think I have a few personal hangups about this particular WIP, given how it has evolved over the years. I don’t seem to get the block on other pieces that I do on Houses of Cards. Makes me wonder if I really ought to be writing romantic suspense. But that’s foolish. The story is there. It’s just a matter of getting it down. I go in and out of fits of excitement and desire to work on it. That aside, my writing habits resemble traditional French peasant cooking–always something simmering on the backburner. Multiple pots going at once. Stir this one, add something to that, spice up the other. If one piece isn’t flowing well, I naturally move on to another that is. Plus it’s often fun to cycle between two (or more) entirely different types of WIP based on whatever moves me. That has never been limited to HOC–it’s something I have always done. Hence my 30 novels in varying stages of completion.
So the long and short of it is that I’m not certain of the solution to this dilemma. I don’t have any ready ideas for the novella contest, so unless something suddenly screams “write me!” I think I will steer clear of that. In the meantime, I’m still a bit blah on HOC (I got out of my groove when my laptop fried and haven’t gotten back in). I just finished editing a YA supernatural about werewolves for a friend who’s in talks with an agent and that’s got me somewhat itching to go back to the YA I wrote in high school–the finished one. I got a positive critical response from one of the publishers I shopped it to back then, and I always intended to rewrite it in a more polished sense. I’ve got quite a few notes made on that piece over the years regarding what I wanted to polish, change, and update to make it more unique in its genre. I lived with those characters for a LONG LONG time, and I know their voices still. I wonder would a rewrite of that piece take as much out of me as working on HOC right now? I’m doing nothing with Portrait of Solutude (my first Cadence Creek novel), so I am very tempted to make Totem (previously titled Cat’s Eye Moon) my second project to cycle between instead. I have to have something; it’s just how I work.
Thoughts, suggestions? Shall I be committed? 🙂