Friday, December 6, 2013


With my first year of university now over, I have a few months off. I’m happy to say that I'm still working on writing a story. This isn’t the same one I used to make posts about on my writing blog, but rather it’s about a different idea that I’ve had for quite some time, and have worked on periodically for the past few years.

The amount of attention it’s been given has increased dramatically this year, and especially as of late. I’ve filled two workbooks with notes, and in the past couple of months have written a 7500 word outline of the story’s main points. During the past few days i’ve been working on refining my main characters’ throughlines for clarity and condensing events to lose redundant scenes. So it’s still in the planning stage.

I’m determined to get this right. I read a lot of writing blogs, articles and books by authors and editors about the storywriting process, to help me identify common areas that writers struggle with so that I can work on them myself. I rework and rethink every aspect of the story to see what could be improved, or even cut, which is often difficult when you’ve put effort into something.

With all the free time that I have now, I wish I could say that my story is progressing rapidly. But this isn’t a perfect world, and I'm not a perfect person. It’s a fantasy story. I created the world, its people and everything in it, and the story spans the greater part of an entire continent and follows several characters. And that takes a lot of work. Hard work. And nobody likes hard work.

My writing process is a cycle of motivation, hard work and pleasure at progress, then utter despair at the seemingly insurmountable task ahead of me, akin to scaling Mount Everest while the mountain itself taunts you and laughs at you. The more I refine one area, the more I notice about what’s wrong with the others. Sometimes I find a great solution to one problem, but then that has huge effects on other aspects which creates more problems which need more solutions. I doubt my ability to rise to the task stretching before me. Stress and anxiety are common partners in this process, because this part of editing a story is all about looking at all the shit you've done wrong and attempting to fix it, one little bit at a time.

And then I stop to reflect. I reassure myself that this is normal. That every writer starts with something terrible and incomplete and after a lot of hard work, attempts to sculpt it into something amazing that they can be proud of. I consider my progress. And then the motivation returns, and I work. But sometimes this can take a day or two. And that only makes me feel guilty because I’ve wasted time.

I suppose I'm getting better at it. It’s funny, that the more progress you make, the easier it becomes, because you slowly build a really solid foundation that you can be sure of, and even proud of. It’s like building a house. As you lock things in and lay down more and more bricks, you start to get a shelter that you can sleep in. Then you just have to decide what furniture and carpet and wallpaper you want.

There are a few twists in my story that I really like, and perhaps the part that I'm most proud of is the conclusion - I spent many days trying to come up with a solution, and when I found it I shouted out “yes! YES!” because it worked so well. You chase those “yes!” moments because you know when something works well - it falls into place like a jigsaw piece, and you can feel good about it. Those are moments that inspire and motivate, but reaching them requires a lot of work.

Hard work.

That I should probably get back to...