Cariad Eccleston

Just a gin-filled dork.

An idea that I don't know if I like, but it won't let me sleep

01 October 2017

I’ve got a thought bouncing around my head.

It won’t let me sleep. Granted, I did try to go to bed at 6pm. I was tired. But the thought wouldn’t let me sleep.

This is where I’m at.

I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ll recap.

I spent the last few years working on my first (well, what I thought would be my first) novel; an epic about a bunch of kids fighting corporate interests at the end of the world.

I didn’t know story structure. I didn’t know how to outline. All I “knew” was to start at the beginning, and write until the end.

I painfully – painfully – wrought out hundreds of words a week, and only got a few thousand down in total before I utterly burned out.

Then I started reading books about how to write. I learned a ton. I kept reading and learning, reading and learning, and I figured I’d crack back on with the novel as soon as I felt like I was ready.

Well, before that happened, I was inspired to start “My Challenges as a Queer Female Time Traveller”. It was a simpler story. It was a shorter story. It felt doable.

And – see – I don’t think I was entirely right.

I’ve churned out more words over the last couple of months than in the rest of my life ever. Outlining, and understanding how to structure this stuff, opened a floodgate. I had the time of my life!

But what was supposed to be a short and simple story, isn’t.

I’ve written myself into a painfully convoluted final third. There’s a crew of villains, all with backstories to justify their evil deeds. There are multiple overlapping timelines, which need to be kept consistent. There are strict time travel rules which I need to apply evenly, to not allow any holes to seep through. I need to imagine and describe the world of the 2100s, and the 2200s. And I need to figure out the people who inhabit those words. And more, and more, and more.

And I’ve ended up with another story too big for me to handle. Fuck knows I want to finish it and figure out where it goes, but… not for a first try.

This is too much for a first try.

The Plan

So, here’s what’s been rattling around my head for the last few hours.

  1. Put “My Challenges” on hold.
  2. Spend October outlining and preparing a totally unrelated – and much simpler – story. I have a paragraph summary already, and it’s ready to be planned out.
  3. Slam out that story’s first draft during November for NaNoWriMo.

On the pro side, it’s a timeboxed diversion. By the end of November, I’ll know if this new story is a goer. If it is, the first draft will be done and ready to edit. If it’s not, I can return to “My Challenges” with a fresh mind.

I also think it would be refreshing to re-read some of the how-to books I read earlier in the year – ostensibly to help me prepare for this new story, but also to help reset myself for “My Challenges”.

Plus, I could really use a win. I need to see a story finished, so I can actually convince myself that I can do this.

On the cons, taking a break from “My Challenges” for two months will – well, obviously – delay it. I really want to get this series finished and out there, and this’ll push Part 1 way out into 2018.

I’m also worried that I’ll lose my momentum.

Or, after two months, that I won’t understand my own notes any more.

Or, maybe deep in my subconscious, that this is me low-key giving up. I don’t think it’s that, but the shoe certainly fits the foot.

I’ll sleep on it

I’m going to sleep on it, and let it smoulder in the back of my mind while I’m day-jobbing tomorrow. I’ll make a decision in around 24 hours, when I get home tomorrow evening.

And I’d love to hear any thoughts from folks who’ve been here.

(P.S. I reckon I’m gonna go with The Plan.)