It has been a month since my last posting. Mea culpa.
I’ve felt very guilty, and many times over the last 4 weeks have said to myself, “this weekend I will post a blog entry.” And then I didn’t.
I also haven’t accomplished as much writing, in terms of numbers of pages or word count, that I generally expect of myself. I haven’t even maintained the pace expected by the Writers Digest course I am taking – 10,000 words every three weeks. I’ve managed maybe six or seven thousand on average. The whole reason I signed up for the class, beside the professional critique and editing (and peer feedback), was to push myself to meet that goal. Historically that has been effective – I never missed a deadline and I never fell short of the word count.
Not this time. I didn’t miss deadlines, but I did fall short.
The instructor of my course is quite inspiring. He has a full time job. He has had multiple books published in the last two years alone, one of which (A Haunted Love Story) was turned into not one but two documentaries soon to be televised. He teaches multiple WD courses and turns the assignments – even long ones like in this class – around in 24-48 hours tops, sometimes same day, with detailed comments and recommendations. And he has a family.
I asked him how he does it. He modestly admitted that people ask him that a lot, but that the primary thing was he loves what he does. He doesn’t watch TV or do a lot of social stuff. But the biggest thing is he loves what he does.
I can’t say I love my full time job or commute. But I do love to write. That usually is enough to motivate me to use my limited available time productively. So what is stopping me lately?
So I started a self-analysis.
Problem: I really do have limited time. And since I tend to be a binge writer, if I don’t have large blocks of time available all at once, it is hard for me to get into any cohesive writing for an hour or so. So I tend not to try.
Solution: Retrain my writing habit. Accept that I may not love what I write in an hour, but that doing that every time I have an hour would provide writing I could work on refining on those days when I have more time. Easier said than done. It’s worth a try, but I’m still feeling like something is blocking me from working on Transition.
Problem: Even when I’m not working or commuting, I have conflicting priorities. I know, who doesn’t? So why don’t those conflicting priorities ALWAYS keep me from writing? Why was I super-productive three months ago and now see so many other things around me (that were there three months ago) that take me away from writing?
Solution: Keep searching for the real culprit in my productivity lapse.
And so I have pondered.
Have you watched either of the political conventions?
No, I’m not suffering from flight of ideas – this really is related to my problem.
I can’t stay awake late enough to watch the key speakers, so I taped them and watched them the following day – for both conventions. Last night I watched President Clinton’s speech from the previous night. This morning I watched last nights speakers, including President Obama. As I reflected on the conflicting futures painted by the two parties, I had a “eureka” moment. That’s my problem!!!
Transition is all about what happens between 2017 and 2101. I have much of it mapped out in a timeline. The problem is this: what the country looks like in 2017 is almost totally dependent upon the outcome of this election. Never have two candidates had such opposite approaches to fixing the country’s problems and setting the course for the coming years. So trying to write a story that starts in 2017 is a tremendous risk. The country and world I paint in the novel may be completely different from the reality in just a few years.
My novel could be obsolete even before it is published!
Any of you who, back in the sixties, read the book 1984 probably found the predictions to be quite feasible, if frightening. Obviously, the year 1984 came and went with few, if any of the predictions coming to pass (although some might argue the Big Brother concept). But it didn’t matter to the popularity of the book, which had a good decade or two of circulation and acclaim.
Because all of the political rhetoric has been loud background noise over the past few months, I think my subconscious started pondering the potential limitations of a futuristic story that starts in 2017. But the overwhelming task of re-starting the story in, say, 2032 has kept the subconscious ruminations deeply buried. Essentially, I would have to start over on almost every aspect of the story line. And the researched aspects of technology, science, health, etc – which I thought I could set aside for later – would have to be an integral part of the story right from the opening chapters.
I think it was all more than I could handle, but has been dragged to the surface now and can’t be shoved back down.
So the question remains – what do I do about it? I have one more assignment (10,000 words) due for the writing class. The part of me that has been holding me back says “what’s the point of writing forward when it will all have to be blown up if the time frame is to be changed?”
If I had all the time in the world and could churn this out in six months, maybe it would be worth the risk. I could probably predict in broad terms, based on who is elected, what the state of the nation will be in 2017. I could keep going on the current path and tweak it after the election to address the likely differences. My good friend and writer, Sharon Delaney, says I probably am safe continuing in the direction of my plot, that no matter who is elected, the economy and foreign relations don’t change that dramatically overnight. So even if it takes one to two years to complete, chances are things on a macro level will still be much the same.
I haven’t decided yet what I will do, since the epiphany just came to me this morning. But I have a feeling it will impact on what I accomplish this weekend and next in preparation for submitting my final assignment for the class (and completing another 40-50 pages of the novel).
Uh-oh. Did I just set myself up for another unproductive weekend?
Meanwhile, consider checking out what I already have on the market. Note that although published “Indy” style, both books were professionally edited and critiqued multiple times before they manifested as print and electronic book options: