Sunday, May 5, 2013

Starting Anew.

"Overcome fear, behold wonder."  --Richard Bach

This is never easy.  Hell, I don't even know where to begin talking about it, let alone how to get it across in a way that'll make sense.  And I'm pretty sure it's different for everyone, yet at the same time, I think if we all talked about it, we'd all understand.

I started writing the new book tonight.

It took longer to actually get my ass in the chair and start than I'd thought.  When it's time to write, there's always a dozen and more different things I can do really quick before I start, and those stack up quickly.  So I had to make myself not do them.  Then I had to find a song -- I've developed a kind of ritual for writing, and part of it involves finding a song that fits the story and playing that every time before I start.  Since today was the first day, I had to find the song.  Took a guess, found it on the first try, and it worked surprisingly well.  Seemed like I was prepared.  So I started.

I then spent the entirety of the first page beating down my internal editor with a mental plunger, telling myself to just keep writing, that anything bad could be fixed later.  No,  I didn't want to know that I was taking too long to get to the big moment of the first chapter.  No, I didn't want to know about the 250-word mark that would be crucial later for queries and pitches and what-have-you.  No, I didn't want to know that things were already going too slowly.  Just write, I told myself, I had to tell myself.  Just write.

And now, 2500 words later, I'm more than a little relieved.  What I have isn't spectacular but it introduces the two main characters and the main antagonist, and most importantly, it gets the story started.  Now that I've started, I can keep going.  Now, when I sit down, it'll be to pick up where I left off.  It's a lot easier to put one word after the other when there's already words in place.

The thing is, I knew I needed to start this tonight.  My life has this tendency to go well except for the things I want most -- I've got a good job that pays me plenty, I have some of the greatest friends and family anyone could ask for, and I generally don't have too much to worry about.  Except this.  Except writing something that will get my career started.  I know I'm exaggerating, but it constantly feels like I'm failing at the one thing in life I want most.

And three nights ago, I put Skyborne behind me for the last time, and made a wish for my success.  A strong wish.  A wish that won't come true without a lot of hard work on my part.  So three nights later, I knew, I had to start.

Here's hoping it works.


  1. I keep coming back to something that you write in this post that strikes home. You say that you keep failing at the one thing that you want.

    I know, we talk all the time, and maybe the internet isn't the place for this, but I really feel like you've struck a point of wisdom that deserves recognition: You openly admit that you fear failing the one thing that you've wanted for most of your life. Mason: This is a major realization.

    I don't mean like this is a big deal to unblock your chi (see the second season of Avatar for reference), I mean this is a big realization for you as a person.

    I recently sat at my computer frightened that words would not come to me. I was frightened that my words would hurt and upset people; that my words would somehow crack open the great consciousness of humanity and cause it to spew back the vitriol stored in the internet.

    This fear was not born of pretentiousness, but of the FEAR of SUCCESS. I know, this sounds so counter-intuitive to everything you strive for as a writer, but the truth is, if you do this "one thing" and do it well, you could have thousands--Tens of Thousands!--of readers. How on God's Green Earth do you not offend the crap out of that many people while still writing the stories that make you tick?

    Short answer: You don't.

    Success in this business means you are going to piss a bunch of people off. But More Than That: if you do this thing right, you will speak to the soul of people who have felt that they were utterly misrepresented for their entire lives. They will feel like you wrote this book just for them. Your stories can give someone the courage for such small things as applying to college and making their lives better.

    This is *heavy* shit. And if you think about it like that, it will destroy you by its utter enormity. Don't think of it like that (realize it's a possibility, but ascribe it to the abstract part of your brain that realizes you could also win an OSCAR for your story if it's ever picked up by Hollywood: similar to the odds of you winning the Lotto).

    In the paralyzing you case, I have a remedy: I HIGHLY recommend the one reader. This one reader is your audience. Write everything with this person in mind. I also recommend that you make this person fictional. If it helps you, take a writer you like and then abstract them into someone who would love the kinds of books you write.

    As for me, I have a very specific OneReader. I'll give you enough hints to guess, but if I ever publish, one of us needs to delete this comment because my One Reader is based on a real person, someone you and I have both read. We have plans to cosplay characters from this author. This is my ONE READER. The person I aim my books at. I've decided this author likes big explosions. Often.

    My point is that it doesn't matter who this one reader is, once you've filtered them through your ONE READER filter, they aren't real. You can give them qualities you'd like (I imagine my ONE READER shoots laserbeams from the eye and still enjoys my books: yes, you should be laughing).

    My point is that if you only have this one fictional person to please with your stories, it's much easier to write them. Thinking about all of those hypothetical admirers and detractors will mess you up in the head (been there, done that!). It's not worth it. Write what you want. Keep in mind what One Reader wants, and between the two of you, it'll be easier to write, and the writing will be better.

    I hope this helps. If it didn't, delete it. It won't hurt the internet to have one less opinionated writer spewing their craft process. Just know this: What you are going through is real and hard. Anyone--ANYONE--who makes little of this fear is a complete **edited for children**! Write. It's hard. It's hard because you hope for it so much. All the other writers know this.

    (P.S. success scars the fractals out of me!)

    1. Hrm. Yeah, there's way too much in this for me to reply in a blog comment. Maybe even in a blog post, though I think I'll get at least one post out of this, maybe two. ^_^ I'll e-mail you.