Of Completing a Manuscript, and Being Among Other Writers

So I completed my novella at 67k words. Note the sarcasm. But in all seriousness, I don’t mind the word count discrepancy, more or less because I’m writing this story for fun. This will be fourth fully completed manuscript — a number most certainly imbalanced with the amount of unfinished manuscripts I have under my belt.

It’s a great feeling to write ‘the end,’ no doubt, but it’s thoroughly discouraging when the future WIP you were saving to begin once you finished the current WIP has suddenly fizzled out and you can’t find the motivation for it. Anywhere. At all.

nope

I was itching to start a new WIP about 2-3 weeks ago. And now, two weeks later, the fire for it has burnt out. In its entirety. During those two weeks, I denied myself any brainstorming, any research, any backstory work for it. And I can’t help but wonder if that self-deprivation crushed any and all desire for it? Or am I instead still riding high on the waves of accomplishment, two days later?

Indeed, something of a family medical crisis reared its ugly head today, so aside from appreciating any prayers, perhaps that is why I’m entirely devoid in the creative department.

So I wonder how long should one revel in the sense of accomplishment?

And I return to the all so common answer of: everyone has their own writing methods. That’s why there are no writing rules. Because what works for one writer may or may not work for another. I’m not poo-pooing all those writing handbooks and how-tos out there, far from it. I learned a lot from them. But at a certain point in one’s writing career, one must discover on their own what method works for them.

This is partially why I cannot readjust my work to Scrivener. In my previous finished mss, I used Scrivener for edits, and I thought it was great. However, I imported this latest finished mss to Scrivener and said to myself, ‘this isn’t going to work for me.’ I’ve worked with MS Word for far too long in my journey, that any other tool doesn’t feel right for me. Scrivener works for some, not for others. I’ve discovered that I have a particular method, including handwritten style books, typed manuscripts, editing in Word, the works, and it’s what works for me. I can’t force myself into another method, even if it may be simpler, or easier, or quicker, or all of the above from what I do now.

I like my pile of notebooks, handwritten notes, editing in Word, all my particular habits. And others will disagree.

I also believe there are certain writing principles and rules (existence of a climax, proper grammar, logical backstory, etc.) that ought to be followed, but I respect the rights of anyone who would stray from my personal ideals. I’m also convinced everyone follows these general rules in their own way on their own time. This writing journey is a neverending excursion, and we are all on different points along the way. And whether one is more or less accomplished than yourself as a writer, their position needs to be respected. I see very saddening amounts of pretentiousness and dismissal displayed in writers more advanced than others, and it’s upsetting. Because the truth of the matter is, those more accomplished than others, who’ve written many more manuscripts or get more attention for their work, or have more writing skill than another, oftentimes dismiss those who are not as blessed or talented as themselves.

In my fine art days, I recall feeling horribly dismayed by the lack of interaction or acknowledgment of the so-called great artists to those of lesser talent. I can remember feeling a thrill if a great artist so much as wrote a generic ‘thanks’ to my paragraph of praise and admiration. And then one day, I praised a particular equine artist that I highly admired … and she was real! She was down-to-earth, she made conversation with me, and we became fast friends over the expanse of the internet and the Atlantic Ocean. And I remember feeling so happy of the fact that yes, she is a real person, and she is genuine. Because everyone else ever hardly put forth any effort to thank their fans, if even that.

Now I understand there may be some legal, liability, or personal reasons why one wouldn’t interact with their fans, but I see interaction happening plenty of times with some accomplished folks, so why not some form of acknowledgment from another? Or is that too demanding of me to wish everyone would offer an explanation?

Times where I feel accomplished, are the times that ought to beckon a call back down to earth. To be humble and remember that we are all human, and contemplate why we do what we do, what we’re looking to achieve, what gives us joy and contentment in life. I write because I want to. Because I love creating imagery with words and language, to create emotions with words. Perhaps it’s because I’ve always struggled with communication growing up. Perhaps it’s my fine art hobby taking a different medium. But I love writing stories. I love the act of creating. Writing is not easy. But if the passion is there, it’s not hard, either.

It’s time that is the worst enemy.

So back to my original topic: I’m not going to beat myself up for not feeling that story I wanted so badly to write. I’m going to go with life’s intrinsic flow, let it direct me where it will. Because I would love to begin the third installment of my current urban fantasy series at this point now, but I can’t dismiss the urgency of starting a totally different story I felt a mere two weeks ago. I need to weigh them out, and only time can help me. Of which I’m giving a week’s contemplation.

In the meantime, I’m going to finish the 14th and last season of Poirot, and begin a new tv series. Netflix’s Anne of Green Gables, Supernatural, Sherlock, Midsomer Murders, Murder She Wrote…I can’t decide which. I’m miserable at making decisions. That’s a possible reason of why I’m floundering around right about now!

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19 responses to “Of Completing a Manuscript, and Being Among Other Writers

  1. Congratulations on finishing your slightly overweight novella! 🙂 I don’t understand how anyone can write a novella, personally. My stories either come out bite size (under 2k words) or gargantuan (over 150k words).

    It sounds as if you’ve got it all sorted with regard to what you write next. Take your time, and your enthusiasm for one project or another will come back.

    I vote for Supernatural. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I managed to keep the first installment of the series I’m working on <40k words, but the second book just wouldn't work with me. And I'm not very skilled at snipping away at a manuscript!

      I love a good long story (think Sanderson), so I really admire that you have a mss (or more) of 150k+ words! It's a big accomplishment.

      Thank you for your encouragement! My 16 month old nephew went in ICU this week, so frankly, I haven't been able to think of storywriting or anything of the kind at all this week. So I'm still up in the air about which story to pursue. But I'm okay with that 🙂

      I'm leaning toward Supernatural, too, actually. I think it's about high time I started it… 12 seasons to get through is a lot, though. It's going to take a long long while for me to catch up! And I just remembered that I need to catch up on House of Cards, too. Netflix is a blessing and curse!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sorry, for some reason it only showed me the first few lines of your reply before. Obviously I meant it was great you managed to keep one installment at <40k words. I know what you mean about cuttingl ength in editing. I'm trying, but my WIP just keeps getting longer.

        I'm sorry your nephew has been sick. I hope things are looking up for him.

        You haven't seen any of Supernatural? You definitely should! I haven't seen the most recent few seasons, but I'm planning to watch right through from the start at some point

        Liked by 1 person

        • Ugh, the trimming! It’s what I loathe most about editing. And everything is just absolutely necessary to keep in the manuscript. Eliminating descriptors doesn’t help, either. The majority of my “novella” is dialogue, action, and thought. Do you write in first or third person? Reason I ask is because I’ve noticed my first person stories have a tendency to turn lengthy.

          My nephew’s improving, thank you for your concern! But they want him in ICU for another week. It’ll be a long recovery, and they’re still trying to figure out what happened internally in the first place (he had renal failure of both kidneys). So it’s still rather stressful. *big sigh*

          ps. I did notice that WordPress’s notifications are truncated and without the option to expand the message. I’m sure they’ll fix that soon, we can’t be the only ones getting gypped!

          Liked by 1 person

        • I hardly have any description in the first draft, so removing it isn’t really an option. I tend to go the other way and add it. Same with internal monologue.

          I write in third person. I think most of my length comes from there being too much plot. But it all needs to be there!

          I’ve edited a couple of scenes recently that were mostly dialogue, and I agree, it’s so hard to cut length. The only way is to get rid of chunks of the conversation. :/

          I’m glad to hear your nephew’s improving. I hope he has a smooth recovery back to full health.

          Liked by 1 person

        • I totally hear you about the necessity of the plot, and how your writing works around it. But when dialogue needs to get cut, then it gets unnatural… and then there’s loss of pertinent information and quirks… and ugh, I hate trimming!

          The only consolation we have is that, while we may not be so talented, Sanderson’s first published novel (Elantris) was 200k words. And his manuscripts have only gotten heavier since then. And everything in his story is important. So there. Heavy stories can be done!

          Liked by 1 person

        • Haha. I do keep telling myself 200k words is not entirely infeasible. But then I tell myself that that’s just making the challenge of getting an agent and a publisher harder. And things are challenging enough!

          Liked by 1 person

        • It did take Sanderson 4+ years before someone decided to take a chance on Elantris, if it’s any hope! 🙂 (Yes, he’s one of my favorite fantasy authors)

          As with all creative ventures and aspirations, I say it’s best to be you. Do what feels right for you, and build on your strengths. And writing a good and intricate plot sounds like one of them!

          Liked by 2 people

        • Thanks! I hope so. I’m going to write a couple of sequels to this one, and if I can’t sell it by the time I finish I’ll put it on hold and maybe write something shorter for my debut.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Congratulations. Completing a project, regardless of scope, warrants a certain pause to recognize. Sometimes I feel like the real challenge is choosing to say “it’s done” instead of “just one more draft” or “a little more revision.”

    I definitely think there’s an element of difficulty in transitioning from one project to another. We’re in a mindset; that project is our life, living in our heads, and then it’s done, but those scraps and tools still linger in the mind. One strategy I’ve been trying out is to try and have multiple projects at different phases of completion, and dedicate at least a little time to each of them.

    At present I have writing posts, book reviews, and short stories, all getting different days dedicated to them, but over time I hope to try “1 day a week for brainstorming/developing ideas”, “1 or more days for writing the rough draft of story A”, and “1 or more days for revising/editing story B”.

    Of course I don’t think I would ever try to write 2 novels at the same time, but in passing I’ve heard numerous well established authors reference simultaneously working on a novel, a short story for an anthology, and some non-fiction writing/networking projects, so it seems like that’s not an uncommon method, though as you say, everyone walks their own path.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for your thoughts! They’re truly appreciated. Oh for sure, I still have edits to get to on this “completed” WIP, but those can be done simultaneously with another writing project. I have yet to decide what to start! In the meantime, I’ve allowed myself to divulge in TV series and books. It’s the best source of inspiration.

      You are so right about the difficulty of transitioning from one writing project into another. I’ve always been intrigued by how other writers manage their work! Thank you for sharing. I struggle with seeing a project all the way through, so I try to force myself to do so without any distractions. One-track-mind, as it were! My mind wants to write so badly, but it refuses to focus on a specific project. I’m going to let it fester until that “voila” moment!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. A week late, but I wanted to say “Congratulations” for finishing your novella! As for the answer to “what’s next,” I think you’re doing the best thing for yourself by going with the flow creatively speaking. Even if an idea sounded fantastic two weeks ago, if it doesn’t speak to you now, then now might not be the best time to work on it. Has the flow helped you decide on your next project since you posted this?

    I can also understand how family emergencies / illnesses can zap one of creativity – and that they should take precedence over writing when they do happen. Honoring our reality is one of the “unspoken” challenges of being a writer, and it’s important that we do that. I hope whoever it is will be on the mend soon, if he/she isn’t already. *hugs*

    Finally, you’ve probably decided on which TV show to watch… but if you’re looking for suggestions of what to do next, my vote goes to Anne of Green Gables. 😉 What did you pick, btw?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you!! My 16-month-old nephew was dangerously ill, but thankfully he is finally on the mend. And has now officially moved 1,200 miles away to Florida T.T

      I still have yet to decide what story idea to focus on, but I’ve got a feeling the decision making moment will come soon … as soon as I finish watching those addicting Netflix series! I did watch Anne with an E and I thought it was very good, despite its minor changes. It was also lacking in the book’s light-hearted atmosphere, but I didn’t mind the gritty realism of it. I wonder if they’ll continue the series?

      After Anne with an E (yes, using this creative lull as the excuse to catch up on TV shows!), I’ve been catching up with House of Cards. So addicting, and I’ve only just begun the fourth season. I’ll have to write an exposition on how amazing the MC is as the anti-hero. I’ve always dreamt of creating such a hate-worthy protagonist who you still root for.

      I hope all’s well with you — miss you!

      Liked by 1 person

      • *whew* That’s great news. I hope he has a swift and full recovery!

        I haven’t watched House of Cards, but I’ve heard nothing but amazing things about it, especially Kevin Spacey’s performance. A friend just reminded me today that Orphan Black’s final season starts THIS weekend, not the following weekend. So now I have to figure out how I’m going to fit in OnDemanding the first two episodes of that show along with the final two episodes of American Gods Season 1. Where’s more spare time when you need it?? *lol*

        I should be back on Twitter and Facebook this weekend. The photo album is done; I just need to mail out the links to the appropriate donors. And then take a night off to just veg. Or maybe color in my mandala book… which is my way of vegging, I guess. *lol*

        Is that even spelled correctly? “Vegging” out? Or is it “veging”? XD

        Liked by 1 person

        • “Vegging” looks more correct than “veging” … vee’ ging? Lol! Yes, phonics learner here.

          I love mandala coloring! But in the history of my life, it appears that ever since I began bullet journaling, my mandala sessions have disappeared. It’s always good for the mind and soul to have an artistic outlet, and oftentimes we need to “force” our minds on a seemingly monotonous but complicated task for at least 30 minutes. I think it’s more of an introvert thing though. My (extrovert) friend tried doing a couple mandalas…and she hated it!! I was flabbergasted! But the insight into her reaction was interesting, if anything.

          I haven’t every seen Orphan Black, but I just read its synopsis and it sounds really interesting! One of my favorite shows of all time is Fringe, does it have somewhat of the same scifi element to it? And how is American Gods going? As you probably saw, I didn’t much care for the story — although I can definitely see it as visually awesome. But you say season 1, so I’m curious as to where they’ve put a break in the story?

          Liked by 1 person

        • *lol* See, when I first typed “vegging,” I thought, “Shouldn’t that rhyme with ‘legging’?” XD Which one would create the soft g sound we hear in “veg”? Maybe it is the single “g”…?

          What is bullet journaling, btw? I’ve heard the term before, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen it explained. And I can absolutely see how mandala coloring might not appeal to extroverts. It’s a creative but solitary activity, and more extraverted folks might not find it too engaging.

          I’ve never watched Fringe, so I can’t compare it to Orphan Black. But it’s more of a “science research” kind of sci-fi… which doesn’t sound very sci fi, now that I think about it. But the idea of human cloning itself is fascinating (and scary), and I like how the show has explored the ethics of cloning and the repercussions it has on the clones.

          I did see your review on American Gods the book. (Sorry to hear you didn’t like it, btw.) It looks like they’re going to break Season 1 right before Shadow and Wednesday reach Wisconsin for the “meeting of the Gods.” (From what I’ve heard, the show will take about three seasons to complete the whole story.) So it’s introduced Shadow and a number of the gods on both sides of the war, while expanding on certain characters (like Laura Moon) so they’re more fleshed out (no pun intended in Laura’s case) than they were in the book. Visually, yes, it’s been stunning, and it’s been rip-roariously funny in spots, too. But overall I’ve been very pleased with how this first season has turned out and am looking forward to more next year. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

        • Good point! The g is soft in vegetable, but two g’s would make it hard… so I had to look it up, lol! According to Merriam Webster, it is, in fact, two g’s. But one g in the present tense. Go figure! https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/vegging

          Bullet journaling is basically creating your own customized planner, but you can get as creative as you want with it (color coding, washi tapes, stickers, drawings, fancy text, etc.). It’s basically a stationery/craftsy lover’s version of the daily planner. But it really helps to keep track of events, past or future, that you’d otherwise forget if you didn’t write it down. And heaven knows I need to write it down!

          Aw, I think you’d like Fringe! The characters are beautiful and charming, and the storyline gets pretty intense. And heartwrenching. If you ever get the chance, definitely give it a try! It can get a little bit like X-Files, but otherwise, it’s not too graphic. I believe it may still be on Netflix? Orphan Black sounds interesting, I like the concept! But it’s not on Netflix 😦

          That’s very cool that they broke down American Gods to three segments. I heard that there was a lot that Gaiman had to cut out from the final mss and so I’m glad the show is getting to spend more time with the characters! Next year though? Ugh, I hate that seasons are so far apart!!

          Liked by 1 person

        • You know, I hadn’t thought of actually looking it up on Merriam Webster. Good idea! *lol*

          Bullet journaling sounds pretty neat! I’m not the most craft person in that regard, so I don’t think I would do it for myself. But I can see how it would make daily planning more fun for some people. (Though I’m like you: I need to have appointments or “to-do” lists written down, or else I don’t remember them.)

          Orphan Black isn’t on Netflix?? That’s weird. I know a couple people who have caught up with the show through Netflix. (I don’t have Netflix myself.) Maybe it’s temporarily unavailable because the new season is currently on cable? (Orphan Black airs on BBC America here in the States.)

          “I heard that there was a lot that Gaiman had to cut out from the final mss…”

          Which is why there are certain editions of American Gods that are known as the “Author’s Preferred Text,” featuring the full manuscript. My copy is one of those. 😉 And the showrunner has been using that version of the book, but some of the material that has aired is completely new – and yet completely fitting with the original story’s spirit. And I’m totally fine with waiting for another year for Season 2. After bingeing on all four seasons of Black Sails and now watching full seasons of American Gods, Orphan Black, and the upcoming seventh season of Game of Thrones, I’m going to feel TVed out by Labor Day. XD

          Liked by 1 person

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