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I am nothing. I am a single grain of sand amongst billions. I am a single voice within a crowd. I am human, I am god, I am here, and this is what I have to say:

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Thought of the Moment

Since tomorrow I will be leaving for a week and can't guarantee I'll have much blogging time if any at all; I thought today would be a good time to share with you something that has been weighing heavily on my mind for several days now.

Though I haven't been sharing any of this particular project, I have been hard at work on a fantasy novel for some time now. If pressed to express my feelings on this novel, I would say it is my love child. While working on it there has been numerous ups and downs. There have been times where I just could not put my thoughts and ideas into words, and there have been times when the story wrote itself and felt like I was not creating, but merely dictating someone else's actions. I'm not sure if that's common for all writers, but it is certainly part of the writing experience for me. Rough waters or smooth sailing, I'm dedicated to finishing this novel.

Now, as some of you may know, Carrie Eckles very recently gave me a spot on her blog Prompt Romp where I gave some of my thoughts on writing prompts and shared a small scene of a science-fiction story that I had come up with after reading one of Carrie's prompts.

That prompt, and the small scene I wrote opened the door to an entire universe of story ideas I had never considered before. In fact, since writing that scene, I've come up with several different short story ideas for what could very well be an ongoing series with these characters and in this world.

I've been working on it everyday, and it's been a very enjoyable experience. However, I haven't spent one moment sitting down and actually writing my other novel. I feel like I am betraying myself and betraying my story.

Like an adulterer every time I sit down and work on this other series, no matter how smoothly it flows and natural it feels, I feel guilty. Which brings me to my questions:

How do we as writer's balance multiple projects? Am I really betraying one project for another? Is this guilt and self-loathing justified?

I want to finish both projects as soon as possible. I can divide brain power and spend time thinking about both stories, but unless I mutate and suddenly grow two brains and another pair of arms, however, I know it is physically impossible for me to work on both projects at once. Are my feelings of betrayal natural?

I don't have any answers of my own, but I'm really curious how other authors handle working on multiple projects. Am I alone in feeling like this? Do you just pick one project and dedicate yourself to it until completed, or do you flip from one project to the next as the muse strikes?

14 comments:

Alissa said...

I think this is my biggest issue as a writer. It's not a shortage of ideas, but an abundance of them. I don't have a good answer. I am usually working on a few books at any given time, but it makes it that much harder to actually finish something, and then I get myself all stressed out worrying about which of my many projects I should be working on. Should I be writing a short story? Should I be writing screenplay? Should I work on this novel or that other novel? The other night I actually sat down and made a list (I love lists) of all the things I am or want to be working on so that I could prioritize my projects, but I haven't actually gotten to the prioritizing part - just the list.

AmberInGlass said...

Thanks, Alissa, I'm glad to know I'm not alone in this struggle. I can see prioritizing as a very hard thing to do.

Right now, I'm feeling like my best option is to flip-flop between the two projects when the muse strikes, but even that brings up concerns.

Will I become too far detached from one story to easily get back into it again? Will I forget my characters, how they act, think and behave? Will they all blend together?

Nothing I can come up with so far seems to dissuade the feelings of guilt and discouragement I've been feeling thus far, and it has been more than a little aggravating.

Marnie Elizabeth said...

Do you have to be in a certain mood to work on each project? It sounds hard to oscillate between two very different projects!

Cathryn said...

I don't feel betrayal as much as frustration when I try to juggle too much. Yet I also have an abundance of ideas.

I found juggling two novels, which I did for about 8 months at one point, was too much. I am able to juggle short stories and one novel, although I do have the frustration aspect ... not putting in as much time as I could on one or the other, etc.

It's good to have a few projects because it keeps the creativity flowing, and if story ideas come, you don't want to defer all of them for the length of time it takes to complete a novel.

Some writers work on short stories between novel drafts, but I can't wait that long.

jenniferneri said...

This is a very interesting subject, Andrew.
I can tell you that I am similar to Cathryn in that I can write one novel with interruptions for shorts.
I see this as a way to keep myself stimulated - when the novel is staggering,as it tends to do, it is the perfect time to jump into a short I've been meaning to get to. It gives my creativity a boost, and allows for my writing technique to progress.
I do know though that the desire to drop what I am currently working on to go the next project can be strong, yet is one I fight, as this would lead to an endless string of unfinished works.
Cynthia quoted someone on her blog Catching Days recently, about how this tendency to leave one project for the next is another form of writer's block. What I do is write my ideas down and store them for when the time is right.
It sounds like you needed a time-out from your novel, and if you're cranking out some shorts, well then you'll be revived when you get back to your novel! If it's your baby, most likely your subconscious is working on it for you...laying the way for you.
gee - this is long!
i didn't know you guest blogged over at Carrie Eckles - I'll check it out. And we'll see you in a week!

AmberInGlass said...

Thanks for the wonderful comments everyone. They are definately helping to lift my spirits about this.

Marnie, I'm not sure hot to put it into words, but I guess mood is a good way to put it. Somedays I'll sit for hours really wanting to work on something specific and just find myself unable to come up with anything.

I like the idea that starting too many projects is a form of writers block. It definately is. I suppose if we can't show some degree of dedication to one particuliar project that string of unfinished works isn't going to mean anything in the end. I'll have to go find that post on Cathryn's blog.

Thanks for all the comments and well wishes. I'll be back soon!

BeckyJoie at Leaders in Learning said...

You definitely aren't alone on that. I suffer from this all the time. I block out the "should's" and just work on the project that is most on my heart or force myself to dabble in both. I'm not sure it's as productive to work that way but I can't help it. I have so many interests to write about. Let me know if you figure out a better way.

AmberInGlass said...

BeckyJoie, thanks for coming to my blog. It is nice to know I'm not the only one struggling. I don't have any ideas except for just forcing myself to work on both. I like the idea of just letting go of the worries and working on whatever weighs most on the mind. If I come up with another way, I'll certainly let you know.

Alice said...

I'm always like that...Usually I just write whatever I feel like. I'm usually doing an original novel and a fanfiction. I enjoy doing the original novel much more but getting the support for my fanfic helps me to leave some time for that, too.

AmberInGlass said...

Thanks for the comment Alice. Yeah, that's probably a good idea. I've found if I try to force myself to write something too much, I might lose a lot of the quality in my writing.

What kind of fanfics do you write?

Uninvoked said...

I actually found that this desire for multiple ideas is a potential cure for writer's block. I have 4 folders on my computer dedicated to writing. The first 3 are pretty standard. I have a folder for published, ready to be published, and completed rough drafts. Anything that is a complete story goes into one of these folders.

The 4th one is pretty special, and my personal cure for writer's block. I have ideas pop into my head all the time for other novels and short stories. When I feel a powerful urge or extreme inspiration for a different story, I drop everything and write as much as I can immediately.

Sometimes it's only a page or a paragraph, sometimes it's a whole story. If it's a whole story, it goes into the editing folder and is out of my idea box. If my mind drops the ball half way through, then it is left in the idea box and I go back to my major WIP without a qualm.

It's a perfect balance of efficiency because I don't lose any of those great ideas, and when I have no inspiration and my mind is all dried up, I can sift through my idea box for something that looks interesting.

A lot of my noveling blog, Uninvoked, came from cannibalized portions of failed stories (I never delete ANYTHING. If I cut a scene, it goes into the idea box. There has never been a time when I didn't, at some point, regret deleting something instead of saving it.

AmberInGlass said...

Wow, Uninvoked, thank you very much for sharing that with me. That is such a great, simple way of handling things, and one I never would have thought of on my own.

I too save everything, but most of my work is just saved in random places. I guess it is high time I start becoming more efficient. There has definately been times that I've gotten rid of something and much later down the road regretted it.

Your idea folder is absolutely brilliant and tells me that I should not be discouraged by having random bouts of inspiration. Thank you much.

Uninvoked said...

Any time. It's really great to find another person to share these things with. I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one who religiously saves everything either. ;)

AmberInGlass said...

Haha, yeah, not only do I save everything, but I make copies and copies and copies. What if the hard drive crashes? Better have it on a disc. What if I lose the disc? Better have another... I might be a little OCD that way.