The Challenge of Consistent Writing

SO MY BOOK is finished. I’m satisfied with it. I’ve been submitting to agents and getting denied. Mostly because of word count. I’ve spent a few weeks whittling it down to something more acceptable and ended up with an edition some 165k words in length (original final product some 190k in length). But the more I cut, the less the story feels… complete. As such, I’m just going to set it to the side for now and concentrate on two other projects. One, a fantasy novel that borders on urban fantasy. Harry Potter meets Lord of the Rings, if you will. Just not as epic and more than likely self-contained. And, hey, I can probably bring that one to under 120k as everyone and their publisher seems to like!

What can I say? When I write, I don’t stop until the story feels finished. And too often that means a longer MS than many are comfortable with. Oy.

Project two, a collection of short stories that I’m just going to throw up on Kindle. I’ve currently got some nineteen short stories I’ve written over the years that I’ve cleaned up to be all nice and presentable for the neighbors and is fit for going out in public for a day or two. I may even write some authorial insights into why I wrote the stories the way I did. I should have THAT masterwork ready to go by the end of the year or early next year. Mostly, I just want to say, ‘Hey, look! I actually “published” something!’ Yeah, still hate the notion of having to self-publish. But it’ll just have to do until I can find my footing and figure out how to land those interested agents.

You know, I do have this other book I wrote some years ago… Could always dust THAT one off and see where it takes me…

Wooa! I’m rambling. Sorry. That’s more of an ‘update’ than what I titled this particular post: The Challenge of Consistent Writing. What came to mind with that title was the notion of how much writing one should do a day. I mean, I write. A lot. But I don’t write everyday. Sometimes, there’ll be months where I don’t write a word. Then there will be days I knock out ten, twenty, thirty thousand words to something and be laughing maniacally the entire way. For instance, in regards to my short story collection I want to throw up all over Kindle, there are two more stories I want to add to it. Only, I haven’t finished them yet. One I started back in 2010. I STILL don’t have an ending to that particular work. What stopped me short there was that I know I’ve got half of it done, and it was a wonderfully fun half. Reminiscent of good old Terry Pratchett (God rest his soul). I just couldn’t figure out where the damned story was going because it sort of just got to a moment and then…. pffffffttttttt. Like the air being let out of a balloon. I can finish it. I know I can. I’ve just gotten tired of staring at my computer screen for hours. Why was Red Star so easy to write and get through but a ten thousand word story or less is proving nigh on impossible? I swear, my mind.

Meanwhile, I’ve got this darker more serious short story in the works that I started maybe at the end of last year. It should have been a quick work to get through. I even KNOW where it’s supposed to end. The problem is the body, the substance, the meat of the story. I wrote this amazing intro (according to my own narcissistic interpretation, o’course) and set the stage in a very engaging manner. And then…. pfffffffffttttt. Instead of going back and finishing it, I get sidetracked in playing a game, working on a sculpture, finishing off scripts for a new Star Cloud series, doing the dishes, caring for the animals, giving attention to the wife, and bowling. Yeah, I know, those are all important things to manage. HOWEVER… even on my days off, I just don’t know what to do with this story. YET, I have this novella that’s almost done that runs nearly fifty thousand words or so and I’ll have that done by the end of the year, I’m sure.

Why are some stories, stories you know and understand, so difficult to finish? Why is consistency such a challenging effort? I have boxes of unfinished stories sitting in the closet. I know all of them intimately. Understand what they are, who they were, and what they were trying to say. And yet they languish in the dark refusing to unveil their deepest, darkest secrets to me.

I don’t know that there’s an answer to this. I don’t think I’m asking for a solution either. I believe I’m just sharing this weird tendency of finishing one work for every ten started (it’s almost the same for my books. I’ve got one book written for every five started which puts me at an all time high of 3 novels finished! Woo-hoo!). Most assuredly, there are other writers out there in that same boat (if not it being true of most writers). Therefore I say this: start your work. Be it short story, poem, novel, non-fiction investigation, rambling oddity, or what have you. Know that ONE of them will be finished. Just takes time and an obsession with that particular work of art to see it to its final resolution.

It happens. Believe you me. Just don’t ask me about publications. The very act itself is like some serious masochistic S&M session that’s gotten completely out of hand. I’ve been published precisely once. Of all my writings completed, one short story courtesy of a penpal submitted to a Turkish magazine known as e-Hali. The short story in question: Fire In My Pie. The title in Turkish… uhm… something like… Oh wait, here’s the byline:

“Fire In My Pie” Short Story. Published as: “Pastadaki Ateş” in the Turkish magazine (Corum Publication) Aşkin e-HALI Edebiyat Dergisi. 2008 Volume 12 Translated by Gülsen Özdemir

That’s it. Outside of that, I have dozens of rejection letters that I’m pretty proud of. Shows I at least tried and they can’t take that away from me. So, keep on keeping on. The law of averages dictates there has to be a publishable hit somewhere down the line. Just can’t give up before getting there. I have to remind myself of that two, three, four times a day.

Don’t give up. Don’t give up. It’ll happen eventually. It has to. Okay. Back to work.

OH, and on the daily consistency issue… eh, screw it. Is it really important at the end of the day? Every single one of us writes at a different rate. So, stop stressing over that. I’m done stressing over it. I’m just not going to ever be a two thousand word a day writer. I’m a, ‘today I wrote five hundred words, yesterday was seven thousand, and tomorrow will be none’ sort of writer and I’m fine with it. You should be too. Unless you work for a sports column. In which case, you have my sympathies.

Don’t give up,

don’t give up,

don’t give up,

don’t give up,

don’t give…

~Timothy S Purvis

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