Wednesday, August 5, 2015

IWSG August: I Just Realized I Don't Know What I'm Doing

"So, how's that novel coming along?"

It's one of those things every writer hates to hear, and it's doubly worse when you ask it of yourself, which is something I've been doing every day for the past month.

See, when I put out Ten Thousand Days earlier this year, I had a big plan on exactly when and how I was going to release my next book. I took what I learned on that release and built a schedule on how the next one was going to work. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to keep to it.

I can make up excuses as to why it's not coming along, but the honest and biggest roadblock is simply me and my relationship with the book.

I've written 8 novels, of which Ten Thousand Days is the only one I've let out of The Closet. For all but one of the others, I simply wrote it for fun because I wanted to see if I could do it. I wrote only for myself and a handful of people who I knew might read it. I would finish the first draft, made a few edits here and there, but then it was done and I moved on. I didn't go back and go in depth into the mechanics of the book.

My current work-in-progress is the first time I've ever written something knowing that I would make it available for public consumption, and seriously considered that I have to make this something that people will enjoy reading.

I'm not thinking about catering to a particular market or preference, but I am suddenly acutely aware of all these things I've never paid much attention to: Are motivations consistent? Is dialogue believable? Does the progression of action make sense? When I wrote in the past, I just wrote what was fun and what I thought was enjoyable to read. I never considered how people were going to read this and judge me.

You know we all do it.
For instance, yesterday I had to cut out an awesome scene that I really loved. I thought it was hilarious and really fed well into the next chapter, but the truth of the matter was it made no sense. The characters shouldn't have been doing what they were doing in that moment. It was just unbelievable and nonsensical. Not to say the book is hyper-realistic - far, far, from it - but the logistics of the scene just didn't fit into the story. It survived the first two drafts but it kept eating away at me and I had to go back and remove it. It sucks, because now I have to replace it with a much less interesting exposition scene, but I really think it has to be done.

And that's been my feeling of the whole manuscript lately. Is any of this any good? Will anyone like this? I've spent months working on this, but am I wasting my time? I thought I knew the basics of what I'm doing, but I've been questioning it a lot lately...

Anyway, I'm just about to the point where I can send the manuscript out to my beta readers - that should happen this week. I'll find out then if this book is worth continuing or if I should just chuck the whole thing. I'll be sure to keep you posted...

So just we don't finish on a completely negative note, there were a couple of good things to report from last month.
  • Ten Thousand Days is now officially available for purchase in paperback form, and amazingly a couple of people actually bought it. It's exactly the same as the eBook version, but I guess there are still a few holdouts who prefer to hold a dead tree in their hands. I also sold a few more eBooks on Amazon and Kobo during July as well, presumably thanks to the price drop and promotion.
  • I received my first royalty payments from Amazon for my first month of book sales in May. It certainly won't buy me a new car, but it covered dinner for myself and my wife. So not only am I a published author, but I'm a paid one as well. 
Maybe with the next book I can cover drinks, too.

The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Writers post their thoughts on their blogs, talking about their doubts and the fears they have conquered. It's a chance for writers to commiserate and offer a word of encouragement to each other. Check out the group here.

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