Skyler Nova's picture
Skyler Nova from Ukraine is reading The Gun Seller July 2, 2014 - 11:01am

I like to think it has something to do with my living in the same country where Chernobyl exploded, but alas, that's probably false.

Just to be clear, I've published only once and it's really not worth mentioning, and I've started writing--as in seriously and a lot--in April, though this isn't to say I was absolutely "out of it" before that time, and I fall into the category of younger users of LitReactor, and I'm not a pessimist. Whew. Yep, that's one sentence, one single sentence.

Back to the point. Because I'm young--as in not-fourteen-but-still-really-young--the first thing I chose to write was a novel. I sort of began jotting it down a long while back, but for the sake of the argument, let's presume I started my first draft in April 2014. Having reached the milestone of a-half-or-a-third-or-a-quater-oh-I-dunno of the manuscript, I printed it out for some editing about a week ago. In the meanwhile, I'd already written two vaguely horrible and one supposedly good short story. And, more importantly, I've progressed from writing 500 words a day to 2,000-ish.

Yep, you guessed it. I found my unfinished novel atrocious. Well, okay, not absolutely hopeless, and some chapters even turned out okay. Besides, no author is a good judge of his/her own work, an unpublished author doubly so. But. I still had to throw away roughly 7,000 words into my special creative litter box because they very blatantly served no purpose. And don't get me started on the fanfiction-like fixation on the inessentials, such as writing a entire paragraph to describe a glare, or this phrase: "It screams desperately for cleaning." This refers to a dusty old engine. In a fairly slow-paced scene. And every tenth sentence contains this much pathos.

So here it is. My strenuous creative process and my struggle to establish a writing routine, barfed out in a crude and convoluted Neanderthal of a novel. Oh, yeah, and an unfinished novel.

At least it's less editing.

Have you ever experienced something similar? How did you end up incorporating writing into your life? And have you ever saved, or attempted to save, your terrifying old (ish) manuscript?

jyh's picture
jyh from VA is reading whatever he feels like July 2, 2014 - 11:44am

I've gone through phases writing/not writing so much, reading/not reading so much. Both are now more routine than before.

Redd Tramp's picture
Redd Tramp from Los Angeles, CA is reading Mongrels by SGJ; Sacred and Immoral: On the Writings of Chuck Palahniuk; The History of Sexuality by Michel Foucault July 4, 2014 - 6:05am

I've never even attempted to write a novel, not yet. That said, I'm the kind of person who puts a line down and instantly doubts its worth. Awhile ago I got it into my head that my best bet would be to learn about as much of the craft as possible. Having yet to take an actual class, my instructors have been the variety of incredible craft essays on here, and the books I read to serve as guiding examples. When I devoured Palahniuk's essays, I wrote the beginnings of a few stories that totally wanted to be Palahniuk-y, and even though I hit many, many brick walls and shelved a multitude of works, only by trying trying trying have I been able to figure out the techniques to use and things to keep in mind, and how best to apply them and when. Just keep trying. Don't be afraid to stop when it's all a jumbled mess, something will become clear.

Also, I've found that growing as a writer has helped shape other areas of my life. Just by forcing myself to recognize the themes of a jumbled, pointless story, I discover myself recognizing the source behind people's actions, and reading their body language better.

L.W. Flouisa's picture
L.W. Flouisa from Tennessee is reading More Murakami July 4, 2014 - 6:24am

I'm encountering this with my middle grade at the moment. Plus if it ever gets finished editing, I'm unsure how to market it being to cynical for middle grade, yet to simple and light for Young Adult.

Angel Colón's picture
Angel Colón from The Bronx now living in New Jersey is reading A Big Ol' Pile of Books July 4, 2014 - 3:09pm

There's nothing wrong with starts and stops. Forcing yourself to do anything is only going to make you resent it.

I try to work on pieces that interest me at the time (though, I'll admit to definite writing ADD).

As for longer pieces, I have a 90,000+ word manuscript sitting in my OFFICE desk that I refuse to look at. It was my first and it is AWFUL. In the meantime, my second WIP is currently being shopped to agents and I am well underway on a third and fourth project (at the same time - not super smart, but, hey).

Just keep reading and writing. Even if it's a little at a time, you're doing it.

Skyler Nova's picture
Skyler Nova from Ukraine is reading The Gun Seller July 12, 2014 - 8:08am

Thank you for your responces. Good to know I'm not the only one screwing up occasionally :)

L.W. Flouisa's picture
L.W. Flouisa from Tennessee is reading More Murakami July 12, 2014 - 1:23pm

I screw up more times than I have partial successes, everyone does. Keep writing.

John Loeffler's picture
John Loeffler from Brooklyn, NY is reading Gallatian Canyon by Tom McGuane July 12, 2014 - 5:29pm

My advice, for what its worth, is write a lot of short stories. Keep them under five thousand words (3000 when possible) and try to incorporate a bare, and I mean BARE, three act structure into them so that you can begin progressing to longer and longer works.

Here's a basic run down on the three act if you're not sure what I mean.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three-act_structure

As for your short stories and half/third/quarter of your novel, if they suck, they'll start to suck less the more you write. They did for me. I honestly don't want to/absolutely can't read my earlier works because they were so god awful. But failure really is the best mentor. On the plus side, if you're writing upwards of 2000 words a day, you're WAY ahead of the curve. Thats the kind of goal John Updike or Stephen King would aim for. The hardest part of writing is usually the actual sitting down to write. 

And don't be afraid to throw away words. They taught you what not to do, so they served their purpose. I'm about to scrap the better part of 70k word from my first novel, effectively meaning that the entire thing's going to be rewritten, so believe me, I feel your pain. But, the novel will be better for it as will yours.

And for God's sake, whatever you do, never, ever begin editing until the work is finished. E-V-E-R. That truly is the tenth circle of hell from which there is no escape.

Good luck with your work, I look forward to reading some of it in the workshop.

Skyler Nova's picture
Skyler Nova from Ukraine is reading The Gun Seller July 13, 2014 - 10:22am

Cheers a lot, both of you. Yeah, I kinda figured about not editing early :) The trouble with short stories is that I don't always generate ideas fast enough. But I'm learning. I guess it's life-long process.

L.W. Flouisa's picture
L.W. Flouisa from Tennessee is reading More Murakami July 13, 2014 - 11:51am

Something else to remember, the pinch needs to happen at the end of the first act, and then the end of the second act. Which basically means things become progressively difficult for the hero the accomplish, with the middle as the turning point.

Oh and don't listen to anyone that says the things the hero wants need to be concrete, like chasing after a ball. Thats the reason I don't watch Hollywood much anymore. People are more complex than that.

John Loeffler's picture
John Loeffler from Brooklyn, NY is reading Gallatian Canyon by Tom McGuane July 14, 2014 - 5:55pm

Trust me, the more you write, the more the ideas will come. Once you open that door to your brain a crack you'll have more story ideas than you could ever hope to write. Sometimes it helps to just pick a character at random, pick a setting and make that character do something strange. Before long, you'll be a thousand words into a great story you never saw coming.