Something happens when you spend too much time fixated on one story.
Or, rather, something DOESN’T happen: growth.
The ever-fabulous Mur Lafferty brought this to my attention during yesterday’s ISBW podcast (because there’s always someone around to hit you over the head with a figurative baseball bat when you need it most). If we spend all our time and energy only ever buried in one story, that story is going to bury us DEAD. Basically. Figuratively.
Even before hearing these words of wisdom, I was already planning on starting a new project this November. Without realizing it until recently, I’ve managed to work on the same story for the past four WriMos (July Novel Writing Month 2014—RIP—, NaNoWriMo 2014, and the past two Camp NaNoWriMos.
It hasn’t always been the exact same story all the way through; it’s changed a lot over the past three years. But a lot of the characters have made it through most of the revisions, and honestly, it’s time to put them to bed for awhile. Not forever, because there will be four more books in the series. But for now.
Which is why I am doing everything I possibly can to finish the book before this Sunday, so I can have a week “off” before NaNo starts.
I’ve been going on for over a month now about how close I am to finishing, and I still haven’t. I know that probably makes me sound, I don’t know, unreliable in my predictions. But the problem is, not only am I not “working toward” a specific word count: currently, I’m writing backwards.
I don’t usually write chronologically, you see. I pretty much knew how the last third of my book was going to go (with the exception of a cliffhanger ending I actually did not originally plan, which is amazing). So I ended up writing the majority of that first. And honestly, when I was really struggling to get words in a few months ago, I skipped a lot of the more “challenging” scenes.
So I’m working my way back to them, filling in the gaps, and by the end of the week, I’ll finally be done.
I tell you this now, of course, so I have more excuses to actually sit down and finish than I do not to.
I’m not sick of the story or ready to say goodbye to the characters. I’m also not planning four more books for the fun of it. Some stories are too big to tell in one volume, and that’s the case here. But what I am ready to do is write something new. Work on all these story ideas I’ve had to brush off because “I’m still working on this one.”
It’s been over three years, and while I’ve written a lot of other things on the side, I’ve stuck with this. I’ve brought it to what it has become, a real story that I can be proud of. But I am itching to move on, to grow as a writer, to challenge myself. That’s why it’s taken so long to get to this point. It’s a challenge, but not the right kind. It’s fun, but it’s too comfortable now.
I am telling a story I hope you’ll get to read someday. About ordinary people who take their first steps toward becoming extraordinary because they needed to challenge themselves and grow up. The book itself is like a mirror of the process I’ve gone through to write it.
I’m a very optimistic, yet honest person. I would love for it to make it all the way. But it’s not a guarantee. There are a lot of writers out there who all want the same thing. I’m not doing it because I want to “get published.” I’m doing it because, if there’s a story waiting to be told, and no one ever tells it—what happens to it? Does it just … fade away?
I think stories deserve a better outcome than that, don’t you?
It has been a long, twisted road. But I can see it coming to an end. It’s right there. After all this work, after all this time, I’ll finally be able to stop rambling on about how I’m not done yet.
Don’t worry, though. When I’m done, you’ll know.
Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.
Meg is a twenty-something workaholic with a passion for writing, coffee and health. In addition to her status as an aspiring novelist, Meg is the managing editor at College Lifestyles magazine, a guest contributor with Lifehack and a guest blogger for Food & Nutrition Magazine. She is a seven-time NaNoWriMo winner and has also written for Teen Ink and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter.