Monday, March 5, 2012

Challenge Me, Baby

I have twenty-two tabs up on my Chrome browser, seven nonfiction books spread out around me on my bed, five Word documents open, an empty box of Honey Combs at my feet, and eleven cans of Coke Zero on my nightstand.

And this means? (*curls toes* *squeals*) I've started writing a new book.

So don't send in the Hoarders crew just yet. I'll clean up in a few weeks.

But oh man. What an amazing feeling to start a new project. Yeah, I'm still revising/rewriting a manuscript I wrote before my last project, but there comes a point where your brain struggles to absorb what you're looking at. And your old book's playlist starts to grate on your nerves like corduroy on dry hands (maybe this is just me?) As much as I love my oldish story, I really struggle to deny myself shiny, new things. But this new story isn't just a shiny, new plaything.

It's like...okay, so the last few weeks, numerous people have asked me, "So whatcha you working on now?" And then I would say, "Well...I have this new idea," and so on, which would lead to me giving a sort of one sentence pitch, and then their eyes would widen and their mouths would kind of round out into O's, sometimes they would drool and squeak and stuff, and after enough times of this, I got to thinking, maybe...I should start writing this thing.

But this idea is freaking hard to execute. If I manage to pull it off, it will be the most challenging story I've ever written. I've put so many hours just into the research--most of which won't actually make it into the story itself, but which is so essential for me to understand this character and establish a strong voice. And the research is ongoing (hence the twenty-two Chrome tabs and seven nonfiction books [and five more books on order]). It's also a story that will involve some experimental writing methods for me. Don't get me wrong, it might turn into crapsnot. But those widening eyes and squeaks of "OhmygodIwanttoreadthatrightnow" are rather encouraging. I have to at least give it a shot.

But, also? I need to keep pushing myself as a writer. I've been writing for nearly twenty years now. I know, shoot me. So, by now, I've got a good handle on the mechanics of writing. I've got a good sense of my authorial voice. It's not that I've learned HOW TO WRITE PERIOD. It's that I've learned HOW I WRITE PERIOD. I mean, writing is still mad hard, you know? Drains me to tears sometimes. And I still need other people to tell me how schnitty my drafts are and what needs rewritten and/or flushed down the toilet before someone pukes reading it. But I've learned craptons about drafting and revision--and most importantly, what methods work best for me. It's sort of like when you hit your thirties, in that you begin to have a sense of who you are. Well, after so many years of practicing and changing things up and testing myself, I now have a pretty good sense of who I am as a writer. And holycrap that's an awesome realization.

But it's also kind of...stifling. Because 1. I get bored easily. 2. I work best under pressure. 3. I am the greatest me when I'm being challenged. Because of this, I have an obligation as an (*quote fingers*) artiste to challenge myself constantly lest I get swallowed up by the fugging slimy Kraken of Artistic Apathy. It is too easy to get lost in the whoredom of commerce, my friends (and I mean this in the Biblical sense*). Too easy to forget the art behind the sale, the story behind the book, the beauty in creating anew. Yadda yadda. The point is when I first started writing, it was because I just.had.to. It was not to publish or make money or friends--or to write the same old schnit. The only way to remind myself of this--to not get lost in the swirling abyss (and potential trauma) of publication--is to make sure that every new book I write outdoes the last one. There's no guarantee this will happen, but just the attempt keeps my head on straight--i.e. makes me forget to stop refreshing my email and nagging my agent to no end and dreaming about my own theme park. Also, it helps me forget about Snooki procreating.


*as in idolatry, yeah?
*******************

P.S. The winner of the signed hardcover of UNDER THE NEVER SKY by Veronica Rossi has been posted HERE.

26 comments:

  1. Congratulations on starting a brand new shiny sparkly book!! I had to turn 40 to realise the kind of writer I am! LOL! Oh I'm so a late starter and looks like a decade behind too! LOL!

    Enjoy this exciting time! Take care
    x

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  2. I love starting a new project! So fresh, so new, so exciting! Best of luck!

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  3. Your new project sounds so exciting! I'm happy you're finding your legs with it. I'm like you; I work better under pressure. But sometimes it depends on where that pressure is coming from. When it comes from the urge to get a story out, it's good and productive. But when it comes from life's other stresses, I'm not as successful. Still searching for that balance. :D

    Best of luck writing, although I know you don't need it!

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  4. Congrats on starting a new project. I just started one. It's only the second new book I've written and I've been revising for so long that the blank page is a little daunting. I'm on page 19 and will be moving further into the plot so I'm hoping my fingers will move a little quicker here.

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  5. It's like when you hit your 30's. Yeah, it is, isn't it.

    It's not only the challenge, but the "knowing" you can do it.

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  6. Oh man. I haven't started drafting a new novel in years. It's getting close to where I'm going to need to, and I'm terrified. I think I've become addicted to revision. I've just started querying today, and it's taking extreme force of will not to open the MS and make a few more changes.

    Good for you though, Carol. Sounds very exciting!

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  7. I've been in revising mode for too long too! Congrats on your new project - that's inspiring. It's so rewarding to immerse yourself in research, but so hard to be patient, knowing that the finished book is so far off.

    You need to lay off the Coke Zero though - that stuff will kill you. :)

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  8. Yay! I'm excited for you! And P.S. I want the one sentence pitch!! ;) Hope you are doing well.

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  9. I love that you compared the kraken to artistic apathy. God love ya, Carol.

    I am excited to hear you have a new project, it makes me giddy.

    Also, your 20 years of being a writer just put my 2.5 into perspective BIG-TIME.

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  10. Yay for shiny new projects! ^_^ I enjoyed seeing you so excited about it! Of course, now I want to start on my shiny new ideas, but I still need to finish my current one!

    Enjoy the challenge, and can't wait to hear more! :D

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  11. Your excitement and enthusiasm spills over in this post! I'm thrilled for you, and you've made me want to open up that MS that's simply sitting there with only a few chapters and write, write, write rather than dig back into my finished one and revise. Thanks for the push.

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  12. Laughed at that last line!
    Glad you're writing again. One one more and I dive back into my next project.

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  13. AWESOME!!! *fistbump* for new wordage!

    I know exactly what you mean. As you know... I'm still revising *cough* rewriting my MS. BUT, I've started a new story, actually 2, one is for total fun, the other is for fun, but... there's more potential for it to be more marketable.

    Holy Research Batman, you ROCK. Seriously. Maybe I need to do more myself, huh? So glad to hear all this!! <3<3

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  14. I so ENVY you being at that place in your writing mind. Bravo! And, yes, I'm super excited to see what you've been cooking up!

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  15. Oh how fun! I LOVE first drafts! Its when I feel the most alive as a writer. :)

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  16. Yay for a fresh new idea! I'm sort of envious because I'm knee deep in a revision. The grass is always greener, right? :) Good luck on your drafting, and I'm super proud of you for diving into such a hugely challenging story.

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  17. Oh I love reading this. It is a reminder of so many things...but most especially, how writing in itself can be all the joy necessary. I'm so happy for you that you are in this mode...and I thank you yet again for the time away from it...

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  18. Yay for SNIs! They're so sparkly and fresh and full of discovery. I love falling in love with a new idea and having it start to come together. It's the fun part of writing for me. (the revisions are less fun... each round more hellish than the last)

    Snookie Spawn is terrifying.

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  19. I definitely try to make my newest book better than the last. Loved this post!

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  20. Yay for something new! I know you can pull it off! :-D

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  21. It sounds like you're working on an exciting new project - best of luck with it!

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  22. Yay for a shiny new idea! That is beyond awesome! I'm so glad that you're inspired and writing a new book. Love it!

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  23. I love first drafts. It's the best feeling. Have fun! Yeah to pressure! I also work best when pressured...

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  24. You have me so intrigued about your new idea! It sounds like a winner. Have fun getting into it. You say that it'll be the most challenging thing you've written so far but I've often found that the most rewarding and satisfying achievements in life are often the most difficult. It'll be worth the work, I know it.

    I know what you mean about needing to push yourself. We all have to keep doing that if we're going to continue to grow.

    Jai

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  25. OHMYGOODNESS I related to every word of this post.
    I've been in revisionland for months now and am feeling...ummm.....stale.

    But I actually smiled at Bill last night and said, "I see the light at the end of the tunnel." And he said, "So when are you starting the new book?"

    Yep. It's been hard for me to not be distracted by something fresh and shiny (although I have like four ideas brewing and begging to be tapped) so I'm thrilled to be at the point where (maybe next week, even!?!) I'll be starting something new.

    I am worried about the Kraken and the whoredom of commerce and all of that. Sheesh. It's the burden of the joy, right?

    Still. There is nothing else I'd rather do. Nothing else I CAN do anymore. This is it for me.

    So I'd better go get the Coke and the Honey Combs. I'm IN!

    p.s. Schnit is my new favorite word. For reals.

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  26. I can't wait to hear who wins the book!

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