To Trudge or Abandon?

via Johnny Yanok

For the first time in YEARS, I am OFF OF WORK for a SNOW DAY!

I know, you people who live in the north where it actually snows in winter don’t understand the excitement.  This is Mississippi.  It doesn’t snow here.  Flurries send people into a panic as if there’s going to be a nuclear winter that CANNOT BE SURVIVED without bread and milk and bottled water (these are the staples that have empty shelves at Walmart right now).

So today it’s slushy and I’m wrapped up in fleece pajamas and a fluffy robe, with a poochie on either side of me, and a cuppa hot tea.  And I got to sleep in on a Monday.  BLISS.

Anyway, such conditions turn me to a philosophical bent.

As I’m chugging right along with Red, I’m looking back on the experience of writing Devil’s Eye and thinking how much it sucked. Other than the excitement of getting the cover art last fall, pretty much everything about writing Devil’s Eye blew chunks.  I was never in love with the book the way I am Red or was with Forsaken By Shadow when I was writing it.  Almost every single book I’ve ever written, including those that are moldering away in a drawer, began with serious passion about the idea.  By contrast, Devil’s Eye was an academic exercise, just to prove that I could write shorter.  It was still a failure in terms of what it was SUPPOSED to be–an actual SHORT STORY, not a novella, that I would be able to write and get out QUICKLY (not five months).  It was rewritten twice.  And I don’t think I OR Pot was ever truly invested in it like we typically are.

It was a miserable enough experience that I’ve said that I’ll never do it again.

Of course, what’s interesting about the whole thing is the positive response it has received so far. Readers aren’t seeing all the UGH that went into it, so apparently I did a good enough job on the end product that they’re happy–well except for that whole wanting the rest of Mick and Sophie’s story, like, yesterday.

There are a lot of people out there who advocate ALWAYS finishing what you start. While I think that this is excellent advice to a point, I don’t think it’s set in stone.  For someone who plot hops–that is constantly starts books and moves on to the next when they get stuck on the first–and then never comes BACK to the first–yeah this is good advice.  You have to be able to push through the Dreaded Valley of the Shadow of the Middle to The End to get anywhere as a writer.  I know.  I used to be that person.  I was an inveterate pantser with so many partial manuscripts to my name, you could use them to replace whole legs of furniture.

It was not until I came back to writing after grad school, when I started taking myself and my craft seriously, that I really pushed myself to FINISH STUFF. I started with a book that I’d been kicking around and playing with for NINE YEARS.  I finished it.  I got half through another Mississippi-based romantic suspense before I put it down.  Then I finished another full length paranormal that inspired my Mirus series.  Then I finished Forsaken By Shadow.  During the course of all of these, I moved from a total pantser to a devoted plotter.

I finished some stuff.  Abandoned others. That bugged me…the stuff I abandoned.  Because I worked very, very hard to get away from that habit.

But you know what?  It’s totally okay.  Because at this stage in my writing life, I know the difference between quitting a story because it got hard and quitting a story because you’re not truly invested in it. Because, if it’s the latter, yeah you can push through, and you might luck out with something worth selling, but I guarantee it won’t have the spark, the SOUL, of a book that you’re completely in love with.  It will take longer to write.  And I’ll be so miserable while I’m doing it that no one will want to be around me.  Including me.

At that point it becomes just another job, and that’s not what writing is for me. Writing is my passion, my escape.  I’ve already got two other jobs that I don’t like.  I don’t want to destroy my love of writing by sticking with a stinker just because I “should” or because I would have to if I was under contract with a traditional publisher.  As far as I’m concerned, that’s one of the benefits of being indie.  I can work on what I darn well please.

9 thoughts on “To Trudge or Abandon?

  1. Isn’t the snow great? I’m stuck here, but I have plenty of bread and milk. Not much else, though. LOL.

    When I mentioned that I wasn’t in love with my story, you sort of hinted that I might ought to ditch it and do something else if I didn’t love it soon. I thought about what you said. I never ditch anything, whether it’s something I’m reading or something I’m writing. But I think I’ll take your advice if I don’t enjoy something I’m writing. Right now, I’m started to get into my story, so I think it will be ok. But if not…I’m not going to write something I don’t enjoy. Thanks, Kait, for letting us know that it’s really okay to quit and move on. You really are an inspiration to the rest of us. And, btw, I absolutely loved Devil’s Eye. There’s no hint of the ugh. :0)

  2. This is a really interesting post. It seems to me really hard to know where that line is — am I really just not feeling it, is there really that huge disconnect, or am I just tired and burned out? There will always be a certain amount of trudge in a project, no matter how much you love it. For example, Real Life gets busy and it takes everything you have just to sit down and hammer out even 100 words.

    I haven’t yet had that “abandon ship” feeling with a project, but I know it exists, and I’d say it’s really all about your gut. What does it say about this project? If you continue, will you be forcing something that shouldn’t be forced? Or are you just going through a temporary rough patch? Introspection is key.

    Oh and hey — I think it says something really great about you that even though the experience of writing Devil’s Eye wasn’t what you had planned, and was even extremely hard at times, people are still enjoying it. 😀

    1. I cannot say how relieved I am about that. I was convinced I was putting out something that people would think was just kind of meh after FBS and didn’t live up to the level I’d established out of the gate. So I’m relieved that mostly people are liking it.

  3. Huh, really thought-provoking post, Kait. Thanks. I don’t seem to have trouble finishing first drafts… I have trouble finishing edits, because to me, the pieces are never “done.” But I think that’s a little bit of a different issue…

    I’ll be pondering this all day…. Now I’m wondering what I have moldering in a drawer that I might be able to play with…. If I ever finish the stinkin’ “Ravenmarked” edits, that is…..


  4. I’m reading Devil’s Eye now and I would never have guessed you didn’t enjoy writing it. (I’m completely smitten with Mick.) Speaks volumes about your skills as a writer, Kait.

  5. Yeah, we hardly ever get snow in Vegas either. First time it happened I was in shock. Snow. Desert. What? But like you said, everything shut down, LOL, and that was fine. I know how to drive in the stuff I don’t trust whoever is on the road with me.

    And you’re right. The Devil’s Eye end product doesn’t show you had any challenges.

    “As far as I’m concerned, that’s one of the benefits of being indie. I can work on what I darn well please.” And that says it all. Go Kait, go!

  6. You wha??? No way, all your personal backstory is so not apparent in Devil’s Eye. Which reminds me – better hope over and post my review on Amazon!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.