Mark Terry

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

WTF?, Incompletion & Recharging

July 7, 2009
I was going to post a WFT? message about media coverage of Michael Jackson. This kind of hit me harder yesterday when Time Magazine came and there was a 3 or 4 page spread inside about him. Mostly I can just say, this is a guy who was raised to be a social oddity since the time he was very young and became weirder and weirder as he grew older, and the spectacle (nice word) or debacle (maybe more accurate) that is his post-death continues the tradition. Whole thing creeps me out. Nuff said.

I'm thinking a lot these days about why I can't seem to finish any long fiction. I was pleased to finish the long short story here on the blog, "Flatfooted," but I'm sort of stuck on the fiction. Partly this is because I'm concentrating on getting my publishing venture off the ground and otherwise making a living. It's partly because I just finished proofing the copyedits for The Fallen and my editor is looking at the follow-up to it, The Valley of Shadows, and I'm reluctant to jump into anything until I know its fate.

But I'm concerned that I haven't really completed a novel in a while, or been sticking with any. I get to 140 pages, or 200 pages, and abandon it. That's a bad, bad habit. I'm working on an SF novel and I feel sort of stuck, although not because I don't know what's next, but every time I open the file I write a paragraph, go, "eh," and close it out and go do something else.

Alternately, my oldest son started getting Writers Digest and there was a lengthy interview with Stephen King and the guy, Jenkins?, who wrote the Left Behind series, and they talked a bit about quitting/retiring and simply recharging your batteries. I'm hoping I'm merely recharging.

Do you sometimes find the need to just NOT write fiction for a while?

Mark Terry


Blogger spyscribbler said...

TOTALLY creepy! And what's even odder, is most everyone I know felt the same, but suddenly now everyone loves him and misses him. It's just freaky.

Even though it's non-fiction, getting your new venture off the ground takes creativity. I've also found that coming up with ways to make money is also a creative endeavor. And when I "spend" too much of my creativity in one place, it seems to dry up in others. That's just me, though!

9:07 AM  
Anonymous Natasha Fondren said...

Ugh, I keep forgetting to link to the new blog. I love Word Press, but I will miss the easy commenting on other people's blogs, LOL. :-)

9:08 AM  
Blogger Stephen Parrish said...

I think false starts are normal. If I can't get fired up about a project, even one I'm halfway through, it's because I'm on the wrong project or doing it the wrong way.

What happened to that YA novel?

9:10 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

--you're right. It is creative. And now, being on this end of things, I have to decide what goes in the issue, hence creating my own assignments,

9:36 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

I think my agent is still marketing Fortress of Diamonds, but my impression is that the publishing industry is running even slower than usual this year because of the economy. They're just sitting on manuscripts forever.

9:36 AM  
Anonymous Christine said...

Yes, Michael Jackson was totally creepy, hasn't done crap in 20 years, and now he's hot because he died. What's up with that? I can't listen to CNN anymore. Meanwhile, what's up in Iran? Can anyone tell me?

As to your question about long fiction, personally, I think the publishing process can act as a writer's block pretty effectively. You're on pins and needles about what, to you, are old books, children that have already grown up, so you can't turn your attention to something else.

I found myself in a bind such as yours in June, so what I did to shake things up was to join one of the NaNoWriMos. That's National Novel Writing Month. The official one is in November, but there's a smaller one in July. A book I had sagged on is now at about 20,000 words, and counting. I find that by forcing myself to do about 1700 words a day, I get through the block. Some of the stuff I'm writing may be good, or it may be dreck, but at least it'll be done at the end of a month, and then I can rewrite it.

So if you find you still haven't touched your long fiction by the end of this month, there's an AugNoWriMo, and I can find the link to the website for you.

10:03 AM  
Anonymous Eric Mayer said...

As I suppose is obvious I've never written all that much. I guess I don't feel compelled to write -- at least not fiction. Mary and I just finished the latest Byzantine mystery and haven't decided what's next. To be honest, I'd be just as happy not to write another book at the moment. If a marketable idea occurred to me, I might be inspired. Otherwise, I am not enthusiastic. Unless you're making your living at fiction and thus need to write it why beat yourself up about it? Especially once you've proved you can do it professionally.

10:24 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

Thanks for the info. I'll think about it.

10:30 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

I know that at least part of the idea is, if I get an OK on The Serpent's Kiss, it would make sense to work on something for that publisher. That's not an SF novel. And I have at least 2 solid ideas for a Derek Stillwater novel, each with unique challenges, but since if I wrote it under an ideal world, it wouldn't be published until 2012, I'm in no hurry to jump into it.

And besides, it's not like I'm not busy writing. Part of the new business venture has me writing a short article 5 days a week, one each day of the business week, which is nice, actually. It gets me going in the morning.

10:32 AM  
Blogger Jude Hardin said...

I can totally relate, Mark. I'm hoping Jon's little prompts will get my rusty gears turning.

6:45 PM  
Blogger Richmond Writer said...

I haven't finished a novel in years, sigh. Can you have writer's block for years and still call yourself a writer? I do believe in recharging your batteries though. On many a creative endeavor I've found that when I reach a plateau it's best to walk away for a while because when I come back my mind sees what it couldn't when it was overwhelmed with the details.

6:03 AM  
Blogger LurkerMonkey said...

I cratered a few weeks ago ... it wasn't a motivation issue; it was a self-confidence thing. And yeah, I just waited it out. I forced myself to write through it, but it was hard and I'm redoing everything I did in those ugly weeks.

7:36 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

So far Jon's thing has made me wonder why the hell I was inspired in the direction I was, which may be a good thing, indeed.

10:02 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

I confess, there's nothing that makes me more suddenly creative than the possibility of a book contract or even the offer of a contract.

10:03 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

I'm not sure my problems are motivation as much as self-confidence. Or, as I've noticed over the years, my motivation depends a lot on just how viable a project is, or how viable I perceive it to be. That isn't to say that I can't keep going on projects I just love, but a novel is such a big, long task that to say you're just doing it, to hell if it gets published, whew, that's a tough one for me to get past.

10:04 AM  
Blogger sex scenes at starbucks said...

I find it tough to write in the summer. I'm fairly dedicated during the school year when the kids are away, but when they're home I want to play with them, clean house, make dinner, take them swimming and to playdates and generally be a mommy.

It'll get there, either by discipline or inspiration.

8:28 PM  

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