T. Dagarim's picture
T. Dagarim from Atlanta, GA November 9, 2015 - 2:51pm

I'd like to start by calling complete bullshit on whoever said that positive thinking causes things to happen. For all practical purposes, the only thing any positive thinking about writing my first novel has caused me is countless discussions with strangers about this incredible novel I'm writing, have been writing, will always be writing till death do us part. This infinite novel in the works has become my persona - part badge of honor, and massive part "HELLO: My Name is Failure" sticker clinging on for dear life to all my linty shirts. I am a fraud. There is no novel being written, rather, there are abstract thoughts being flung to screen with less order than a genuine Pollock.

It should also now be disclosed that I'm perhaps the most well educated first time novelists in how to not finish at all costs. In fact, finishing probably wouldn't be all that difficult if I could figure out how to start. I use the words "figure out" with complete disingenuity, because knowing and doing are the disgruntled neighbors in my head who only on a rare occassion share the obligatory wave.

Hell, even now I'm writing on a writer's website to ask for advice that I've probably already received and failed to fully grasp. In toying with the idea of burning the laptop with my only drafts of the first 3 chapters, I've finally come to realize just how obsessed I am with this damn novel. I hate it. I hate the novel and everything it represents. I hate the constant reminder that I never finish anything. I hate the questions from those I've discussed it with asking for an update. The update is, I've been chasing my tail for nearly four years, and I've yet to catch it.

So call me disillusioned, but finishing this novel will be the letting go of the whore that's been ruling my life for four years.

I don't even know what this discussion is about. Am I authentically desperate for someone to say the magic words? Do I even care anymore? I thought writing was meant to be enjoyable and rewarding, not an excersize in literary sadism.


jyh's picture
jyh from VA is reading whatever he feels like November 9, 2015 - 3:17pm

Have you written other stuff in that time (4 years)?

T. Dagarim's picture
T. Dagarim from Atlanta, GA November 9, 2015 - 3:22pm

@jyh Other stuff, yes, but not stories. I've mainly written musical lyrics, which are easier for me, because they are abstract and short.

jyh's picture
jyh from VA is reading whatever he feels like November 9, 2015 - 3:27pm

Write an outline, no matter how cheap or inadequate it feels. If you can't, then maybe you aren't writing a story at all. If you aren't writing a story, then maybe you're writing something other than a novel. If you're writing something other than a novel, then maybe you can just do it however you want. If you can do it however you want, then maybe you don't need to worry about it.

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal November 9, 2015 - 4:56pm

Sounds like it's time to set it aside. See if you can write a different novel. Then, if you still really care, you might have learned enough with the different one that you can now finish this one. If not, set it aside again and write another one still.

And if you can't ever finish a novel and it's this negative to you, maybe find something else worth doing.

L.W. Flouisa's picture
L.W. Flouisa from Tennessee is reading More Murakami November 9, 2015 - 6:25pm

Who says you have to stop musical lyrics to write great novels though? I know there was a time where I felt like I couldn't write prose again, so I focused on the 170 or so pages of poetry I have.

Just remember that even if you don't write it down now, you have a novel in you waiting to be told. It doesn't have to be HP Lovecraft, King, or Grisham. Write what you love, it will be awesome.

I like lyrical novels myself.

As some who has been there writing and editing Uploaded Fairy for nine years.

Edit: Note that that after focusing on poetry so much, there is a small chance your work will end up morphinh out of the genre you're used to. This happened to me: I used to write middle grade and adult cyberpunk, but now I write Magic Realism with middle grade feel yet Cyberpunk edge.

Nathan Scalia's picture
Nathan Scalia from Kansas is reading so many things November 9, 2015 - 6:58pm

When I got stuck with a book in my head and no physical words to work with, I put away the computer and started writing it out by hand. Seriously, just a notebook, a pen, and chunks of free time here and there.

The result was that I had to write the book from beginning to end, with no viable possibility of going back and editing as I went. There were certain parts of the book that were terribly underdeveloped, but I wrote them out in all their plain-Jane glory to get to the parts that had marinated to full flavor.

In the end, what I had was a very mediocre book. However, it was vaguely the story I wanted to tell. And now, instead of doing all my minor edits mentally and putting them on a forever-distant to-do list, I could make the edits right there in the electronic transcription of my hand-written copy. Now, when I make the story better, I'm actually making progress on the book.

T. Dagarim's picture
T. Dagarim from Atlanta, GA November 10, 2015 - 6:59am

Reading back through my original post, I sound like a whiney little prick. That's mostly what I'm being, but I really do have so much to go on with this novel. I have tried setting it down/aside, but eventually I end up obsessing over it in a viscious cycle.

I've decided I'm just going to write it. No matter what, I'm goign to finish it, if for nothing else, to finish something.

Thanks for all the advice!

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal November 10, 2015 - 10:28am

Nah, it was just venting.

Okay fine, finish it. Allow it to suck. You can make it good some other day. All first drafts suck anyway, right?

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated November 11, 2015 - 6:43am

Might as well!

Carly Berg's picture
Carly Berg from USA is reading Story Prompts That Work by Carly Berg is now available at Amazon November 13, 2015 - 3:32am

If you continue to get stuck in that going nowhere cycle, maybe try a short story or flash story or two or twelve first. It sounds like you are overwhelmed by the hugeness of a novel. Some smaller, more easily reached successes might be great motivation to make you realize that yes, you really can do it. Good luck.

T. Dagarim's picture
T. Dagarim from Atlanta, GA November 13, 2015 - 3:03pm

@Carly Berg, that's a great idea, and something I've been mulling over. Yes, I will finish it, but first, I'll get some of these other demons out of my head that are getting in the way. Short stories would work well, since I have a hard time staying focused and finishing anything.

Part of me thinks the reason I struggle with finishing anything is that I don't want to let it go for some reason. I think I'm so intimately invested in this idea, that letting it go is not something I'm preparred for. So, in essense, I'm not really sure if I completely mean it when I say I want to finish it.

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal November 13, 2015 - 5:21pm

^ If you revise like me you never will truly finish it.

L.W. Flouisa's picture
L.W. Flouisa from Tennessee is reading More Murakami November 16, 2015 - 5:22pm

Also as a wise friend once said, it's healthy to rant sometimes.

On flash fiction, I mean I like novels written as collections of flash fiction. So along with the other that mention this, yes try flash fiction. Though don't necessarily think that's all your main character has to offer either.

Like my Benina 'The Bunny' came from a flash fiction I was going to submit to Cricket, but changed my mind.

T. Dagarim's picture
T. Dagarim from Atlanta, GA November 20, 2015 - 9:27am

Ok, so I've taken some of the advice mentioned here and applied it. Most specifically, I've takent he advice to finish other pieces in the interum before finishing my novel.

The first result is Samael and the Almost Perfect. It's a short story that had been floating around in my head for a while, and I finally took the time to write a first draft. It's also my first submission on here, so I'm looking forward to getting some feedback on it. Most importantly, I'm not fishing for compliments on it, and I'm hoping for honest, direct feedback on how I can improve my writing craft.

If anyone here has the opportunity, a review would mean so much to me.

Thanks for all the advice guys!

Z L Harvey

Chacron's picture
Chacron from England, South Coast is reading Fool's Assassin by Robin Hobb November 20, 2015 - 2:10pm

I'm late getting to this, but if it helps:

I found an old manuscript in a cupboard the other day that I never finished and have long since abandoned probably for good, but I did think two things about it as I had a look over it. (1) It somehow helped me get to the stage where I started wrirting the stuff I've evenutally self-published, because it was a stage in my development, so nothing about that script I ditched was a waste of time (2) I did take a very small part of it and turn it into a short story that I liked and eventually used as a competition submission. 

Bottom line: whatever happens to that work that you're pissed off with right now, it might start to look a bit different when you finally succeed in getting to something you're pleased with. Keep writing and get some feedback, rinse and repeat, and don't be afraid of those days when it feels like it's just not worth it. It totally is.