Mark Terry

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Avoidance Behavior




October 30, 2007


I'm working simultaneously on three, no four, three, okay, maybe five, novels.
Okay, go ahead and say it. What? Cat got your tongue? I'll say it for you then:
"Mark, are you out of your friggin' mind?"
I'm beginning to wonder.
I've been working for some time on CHINA FIRE, which if you're interested in a brief description of, is on my last blog. I've also written a proposal for a fifth Derek Stillwater novel, but am waiting to see what comes of it before continuing.
I started working on a political thriller that amuses me. Then a week or so ago I decided I'd put off writing a horror novel for 20 years, so I started working on that. And from time to time I pull out a police procedural I've been dabbling with off and on for a couple years and mess around with that. And there's a biotech thriller that's going nowhere that I tinker with from time to time.
Hmmmm.
My agent has read the first 85 or so pages of CHINA FIRE and loves it. Why am I screwing around with these other projects?
I asked myself that seriously this weekend, because, yes, as a matter of fact, I do feel like I'm diluting my concentration. And yes, thanks for asking, but no, I don't have time to work on all these. CHINA FIRE is proceeding slowly because I-AM-DICKING-AROUND-WITH-SO-MANY-OTHER-NOVELS!
I think I might be intentionally avoiding hard work. Or, perhaps, because I'm not under contract and we're waiting to hearing about book #5 (and book #4, which is finished, for that matter), there's a part of me that's afraid to venture out on-spec again and get rejected repeatedly. (Yes, it happens to published authors).
So I'm probably going to put all the other projects on hold and just concentrate on CHINA FIRE until I get a completed draft. I recognize avoidance behavior when I make it. My own version of writer's block typically takes the form of: it-won't-get-published-so-why-bother-finishing-it-anyway. It's self-defeating behavior, to be sure, and it's own promise, of course. If I don't finish it and never market it, of course it won't get published.
How about you? Do you have avoidance behaviors? (Besides, say, reading and writing blogs when you should otherwise be working on a novel?)
Cheers,
Mark Terry

9 Comments:

Blogger spyscribbler said...

Well, if I wrote where I could connect to the internet, that would be a problem. (In the morning before there's too much traffic, I can sometimes connect to Panera's free internet all the way from Borders.)

So, on those rare days, the internet. And then there's reading (easy to say I'm doing it for research) and wandering around the bookstore, checking out all the books (easy to say I'm brainstorming or checking out what's on the shelves).

I would love to read China Fire. Good luck!

7:30 AM  
Anonymous Eric Mayer said...

I'm not sure it is exactly an avoidance technique -- I'm pretending it isn't -- but right now I'm stuck in a mind set that this or that or the other idea I have just isn't good enough, wild enough, weird enough, high concept enough, breathtaking, attention grabbing, unique, twisted, apocalyptic, whatever to be worth writing about in today's publishing environment.

8:36 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

Eric,
Uh, yeah. Me, too.

SS--
I'm keeping you in mind as a beta-reader.

8:55 AM  
Blogger spyscribbler said...

Really?! Like, before it came out? That was a squeal of delight, you just heard traveling all the way over to Michigan ...

11:17 AM  
Blogger Joe Moore said...

My avoidance behavior consists of handing off a particular topic to my co-writer, Lynn Sholes. :-)

12:40 PM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

Joe,
I've often figured that was one of the advantages of having a co-writer. (The other has always seemed like: if it's crap, they'll tell you so, and if it's brilliant, they'll tell you so. I could be wrong, though).

[I've often wondered if it's like having a workout buddy. Now you have twice as many reasons not to get work done].

1:29 PM  
Anonymous Eric Mayer said...

Mary and I have a lot of ...uh... discussions about the Byzantine mysteries, but we've agreed about so many aspects of them, and they so reflect some perhaps peculiar aesthetic we share that the opinion of one or the other of us is probably not exactly a true second opinion though it is better than nothing.

2:15 PM  
Blogger Josephine Damian said...

Mark, fear of failure or fear of success, we all have reasons for not finishing... including me! Or so I used to.

I'm going to do a blog post myself on the subject and reveal how I overcame it in the past, and still strive to overcome the avoidance behavior. I'll reference this blog post when I do.

4:11 PM  
Blogger Aimless Writer said...

I like to think of it as having so many ideas I need to multitask. That way there is progress on all fronts.

5:17 PM  

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