Of Writing and Persistence

Fair warning: today's post is a wee bit long... fifty cool kid points to those of you who read to the end...

For the past few weeks I've started feeling differently about my writing.

via
I love it, I really do. But I'm beginning to feel the impatience that comes with the territory. I'm not expecting to be published tomorrow or anything, and I always knew that writing good work takes time. I'm simply starting to feel a little lost...

Maybe that's not the best way to describe it...

See, I started writing my first novel last March. I didn't know why, but I felt drawn to write. Since then, I've put a lot of effort into the story, and I still feel like it's not where I want it to be... especially when I read other books in my genre. 


Then I saw this quote (I'd seen it before, but this was a GREAT reminder).
Watch it... it's like a minute and a half or something...


So today I have a question for my fellow authors, writers, editors, and really ALL OF YOU who love literature...

When do I move on?

Obviously, Sight is not my best work. I could be persistent and stubborn; spend the next five years honing and polishing and rewriting, and still never get it published. I have a LOT of ideas for books. I've already started one other (Return to Netáe) and I've started outlining yet another. So when do I put this one down, and go on to the next? 

My gut (as we talked about yesterday) tells me I need to either let this one go for a while, or start again from the beginning. From what I've heard, the gut is a great judge. Part of me (besides my gut) wants to be done with it, and another part tells me to keep on keepin' on...

Then, I watched another interview with Ira Glass, where he talks about killing a story... putting it away. He said, "Not enough is said about abandoning crap.... You've got to [write] and get rid of a lot of crap before you're going to find something special. Nobody wants to be making mediocre stuff." This is kind of how I feel... I just want to move on, but it's hard to let go... it's hard to take joy in the "kill" so to speak.

So yesterday I sat down and wanted to write, but I didn't want to work on anything in particular... Then the opening scene from Sight came back to me again, and I began clicking away at the keys.

This was the result:

The barn smelled of hay and mud as Kolina entered. She blinked her eyes afew times to get them used to the darkness after being in the morning sunshineoutside. The dark wood of the walls was aged, and looked frail, as though itwould collapse at a single wrong move.
Or perhaps the right move,Kolina thought cynically.
She went to the pig pen and threw in last night’s dinner scraps beforesettling down next to the first of three large brown cows to milk. Her longbrown hair was tied at the base of her neck by a deep blue ribbon to match herdress. Her forearms clenched with each pull on the cow’s udders. She hummed atune to the beat of the milk splattering in her pail below. When she’d finishedwith the first cow, Kolina heaved an exasperated sigh and moved to the second;then the third.
With the milk pail resting in the crook of her left arm, she held in herleft hand a basket with cloth lining the bottom and went next to the chicken boxeslining the opposite wall. One by one she reached her right hand underneath eachhen to gather eggs, placing each one carefully in the basket.
“Koli!” she heard her brother Dax approaching the barn.
“I’m in here, nearly done,” she shouted.
Dax poked his head in through the large double doors and said, “Oh good.One of the kitchen workers is ill, so they need you back there as soon aspossible.”
Kolina sighed and rolled her eyes a little. “Thank you Dax, I’ll be rightalong,” she said.
As Dax ran away, she wondered whose duties she’d get to take on that day.She reached underneath the final chicken and flinched with a shout as the henpecked at her arm.
“Ow!” She drew back quickly and nearly lost her balance as the milkshifted in its pail. She carefully set it down with the egg basket and examinedher right forearm.
A three-inch scratch deformed her porcelain skin. She sighed, frustrated.Her skin was the only attribute about herself that she admired. Seeing itdisfigured only made her think she was in for a bad day. She tore a bit offabric from what layered the egg basket and applied it to her arm. Luckily thescratch wasn’t deep, and with a bit of pressure it stopped bleeding.
She gave the hen a nasty look before picking up the eggs and milk, thenleaving the barn and heading to the kitchens. As she went, she was stoppedshort as her little sister Taya approached with an entourage of friends.
“Koli! Koli please help!” Taya shouted.
Kolina lowered her load to the ground. Dusting her hands off on her skirtshe asked, “What is it, Taya?”
“We can’t decide whether to play hide-and-find or tag!”
Oh the problems of youth…Kolina thought.
“Well why don’t you just play both?” She asked Taya.
The ten-year-old heaved a dramatic sigh and said impatiently, “We alreadythought of that.”
Kolina raised her eyebrows and said, “Then what do you need me for?”
“To choose which one we’ll play first!” Taya put her hands on her hips asthough this was a very obvious conclusion that Kolina should have drawnherself.
Holding back her laughter, Kolina said, “Well, why don’t you play tag first?That way you’ll be able to rest during hide-and-find.”
“She’s brilliant,” said Dylan, who stood behind Taya.
Taya turned to him imperiously and said, “That’s because she’s my sister.”
Then Sanna, Taya’s best friend, shouted, “Zech’s it!” and the groupdispersed.
Kolina laughed out loud, smiling for the first time that day. “Oh I missthat,” she mumbled to herself.
“Miss what?” said a voice from behind her.
She knew without looking that her best friend Gunnar approached. As sheturned, she saw his jaw-length blonde waves swinging as he walked. His impisheyes flickered as a smile curved one side of his mouth. He reached for the milkpail as Kolina picked up the egg basket.
“Thank you,” she said, wondering what he was up to.
“My pleasure,” he replied with a grin. “Just decided to work on my,” hecleared his throat and bowed low, “etiquette, today.”
Now she was certain he had ulterior motives. She eyed him suspiciouslyuntil he stood straight again and asked, “So, what were you missing a momentago?”
Kolina bit her lip and the two of them began to walk toward the kitchens.“Just the days when we were young. We could play all day and never have to doany chores.”
“Ah yes, the good old days,” Gunnar said nodding. “Do you remember thatsummer we’d play checkers in the barn loft, and the loser had to jump into thepile of hay at the bottom?”
Kolina laughed, “How could I forget? That was the same summer I nearlybroke my leg because you dared me to climb the old oak tree by the garden!”
“Oh right. Sorry about that,” Gunnar said. “Was that the same year thatyou and…” he stopped speaking and looked away, his face became serious.
Kolina did not speak. She knew what he’d been about to say, and she knewwhy he hadn’t said it. They reached the door to the kitchens. Kolina clearedher throat and took the milk pail from Gunnar murmuring a quick “Thank you,”under her breath before entering the building.

*****************

It feels SO much better to me... it was really hard to write, because I was continually slipping into the old version and having to backspace and re-write, but I did it, and I like it. It has more atmosphere, more voice, more emotion, more suspense... doesn't it?

I saw a quote the other day that said,

"If you find yourself asking yourself (and your friends) 'Am I really a writer? Am I really an artist?' Chances are, you are. The counterfeit innovator is wildly self-confident. 
The real one is scared to death." 
-Steven Pressfield, "The War of Art"

This gives me a small measure of confidence... because seriously, it's a scary game.

If you've read this far, thank you. You're my favorite.


- Darci - The Page Traveler-

Q4U: When should one put a project down, whether for a short time, or for good?

No comments

Back to Top