Wednesday, May 1, 2013

IWSG: May, 2013


Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the blog reader....it's that time again. Yes, the A to Z Blogging Challenge may be over, but the blog hoppin' ain't through yet! It's the first Wednesday of the month and that means it's time to ruminate on things that give us, as writers, the heeby jeebies.

Yes, it's time once again for another Insecure Writer's Support Group post!

Hosted by our Ninja Captain, the Blogfather himself, Alex J. Cavanaugh, the IWSG is a little thing we like to do to talk though some of the things that just don't sit right with those of us who like to.....write.

This month I'd like to just touch on something that's been nagging me for a while now.

It's my work in progress....I'm not sure if it's worth my time to even work on, anymore. It came about as my NaNoWriMo project for 2011 and has been sitting ever since.

I have gone back and tweaked it here and there....doing some editing and revising...which it still needs quite a bit more of, no doubt. It also needs an ending.

And that's where my problem comes in....I'm not sure how to end it. Also, ending it means I need to read the whole thing over again, but when I try to do that I'm just shaking my head in realizing just how much work the whole thing really needs.  Don't get me wrong, I still enjoy the story and really like the concept, but I'm just not sure it's viable anymore.

Now, is that a sign that I should move on to something else....or that I should really slog through and just get it done?

I guess my insecurity is stemming from my questioning whether my work is good enough. Is it worth the time to work on something I think might not be that great, or do I go in and try to polish it up, so I can wrap it up with a nice, neat, bow?

I forget who said it, but there's a quote that goes something to the effect of 'writers don't only write...but they finish what they write'....to which I agree with....for the most part.

Then again, I just have to ask myself if it's worth finishing for any other reason then finishing what I start....

Bleh.....



51 comments:

jaybird said...

You and I always seem to be on the same page Mark! Can't really loan you any sage advice because I'm feeling the same way myself right about now...sorry you are in the same spot as me!!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Only you can answer that question.
Maybe bouncing the idea and concept off another writer will help you come up with an ending? Or decide that it should be shelved for now.

mshatch said...

First off I think we all have unfinished wips. I have 5 complete novels and countless unfinished ones. But if all you need is an ending and then revisions...I'd say it's worth reading through again. And having someone else read it - cp, beta reader - might be a good idea also.

Amanda - The Southern UnBelle said...

I totally identify with this. I think my biggest fear is dialogue. I suck at it. And I never think my story lines are good enough. I can't even remember the last time I tried to write, because every idea I come up with I just think sounds lame. :(

ilima said...

If the whole thing is too much to take on, maybe take it in pieces. Fix up a chapter at a time, slowly. I bet once you do read through the whole thing, you'll realize it's worth saving and get excited about it again. Good luck!

mlswift.me said...

Hey Mark,

You mentioned that when you try to read it you see how much work it really needs. So why not start working on your second draft? The updraft, as Lamott calls it, where you fix it up.

By the time you get to the end, it may become clear what that ending should be.

Al Diaz said...

My very personal opinion is try a different approach. I agree with Mike, try a second draft, try a rewrite. If I were you (that I was on a similar situation) I didn't finish it because I found myself shaking my head too many times that I felt writing an end to *that* would be losing my time. Yet, I still liked my idea so I started the rewrite and awesome things have happened. Now I can see the end more clearly and I don't shake my head anymore. So I vote for the second rewrite/draft.

Julie Flanders said...

I think Mike makes a great point about the second draft. Or maybe start working on another project and just let this go for now. I think sometimes you can over-think a project and end up getting nowhere. But if you start working on something else, sometimes the spark or inspiration you need for the other piece comes to you when you're not expecting it.

S.P. Bowers said...

If you're only finishing it for the sake of finishing it then don't. I know that writers can't publish what they don't finish, but if you don't see a future for it then move onto something you do see a future to.

You say you like the concept and story. Why? Because it's fun? Or because it's universal and people can connect to it? You wonder if it's viable, do you mean if the story and plot are strong enough? Or if there is a market for it in publishing?

If it's fun and you like it and you want to finish it for the sake of finishing it but don't think you'll ever go further than that, then I say put it down and move on to something else.

If the story and plot isn't strong enough and there's no market for that type of fiction then put it down until that wave comes back again and see what happens then.

If you think it's got potential but will take a lot of work I'd say go for it. But only you can decide how much work you want to put in.

Brandon Ax said...

IT is always a hard call. Passion is a good indicator of your story if you have lost it something is most likely wrong. Having said that sometimes it isn't a loss of passion, but a surge of doubt that causes this feeling. I would think of finding someone you trust to give it a look over and get a second opinion. Baring that, just step away from it for a while then come back.

Stephen Tremp said...

You could break it down into a number of short stories and release it that way. A series of small ebooks for $0.99 each.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

If it's just not pulling at you, might be time to set it aside. I had a different book planned for my 7th release, but even after gathering information, setting up the outline, and starting to write it, I realized my heart just wasn't in it.

C. Lee McKenzie said...

It's the finishing part that is often the sticking point with me. Love to start. Drag feet on the end.

Robin said...

Do you like the characters? Do you like the story? Where do you see it breaking it down? The story is as good as its weakest point? Once you figure that one out you can fix it. I would read the whole thing like a Reader. Identify the weak point and fix it if you think there is something there to fix.

I really should take my own advice and haul out my own novel and do the same;)

Deanie Humphrys-Dunne said...

Maybe you need to take a break and then look at it from a fresh perspective, or have someone else look at your work. Maybe someone from a writer's group? Or even someone from your family. I've done that and they can notice things I hadn't seen before.

Julie Luek said...

I wish I could remember where I just read an article about this very subject. In this case, the author decided to put the work away and move on to something else. But maybe, as many others have said, it just needs to be shelved for a bit and given a bit of distance. All the best to you!

Suze said...

I don't get the sense that you're through with this one yet. What you need is a plan of attack. And take heart from the fact that pummeling the crud out of a manuscript may have you end up with a beaten story but think how much stronger you'll be as a writer. Think about those forceps, Means. Punch. Keep going. And, who knows? Maybe the light'll break through and this one will end up having been not only an excellent punching bag but a keeper.

Go to it, champ.

~Brandy~ said...

I always say, "Do what you love so you love what you do" - if you aren't loving it right now, I say leave it. I know you read my W is for WUSC post so you know how much the organisation and the SRP mean to me. I had to step back a couple of years ago because I was starting to resent my involvement. It was a difficult decision, but I just restructured my priorities. I didn't leave the group, I just walked away from the "limelight" so to speak for a bit.

Burn out is the worst!

Cheers from Brandy at http://brandysbustlings.blogspot.ca/

Andrew Leon said...

Sometimes, the worth in finishing something is that you finished it.
I see too many authors with 87 WiPs and not a single completed project.

Suzanne Furness said...

I don't believe finishing it just for the sake of it is the answer. You would probably never be totally happy with it. If you think the overall story has merit though I think I would give it another go maybe an ending will just emerge as you get into it again. How about getting someone whose opinion you trust to read it and see if they can help.

Good luck, Mark.

Elise Fallson said...

Maybe have someone you trust read it and give you feedback about the story. Sometimes talking about your wip to someone can help clear things up.

Also, what's up with the rain in Orlando? (; Not that I'm complaining, rain in 80 degree heat is ok with me. :D

Jennifer said...

You could have someone read it, and give you an idea where you are. I know I'm more critical of my work than some other people may be.

Another thing you can try is just ignore all the things that are wrong with the story and focus on the things that are right with it. Maybe that will help to get a better idea of where you want to go and how you want to end it.

Whatever you decide, good luck with it.

Sheena-kay Graham said...

You might want to take a break from this project. Clearly you're frustrated and I doubt it is helping you move things along. Also frustration leads to stress and you don't need that. After a break you can decide if this wip is worth finishing.

Elsie Amata said...

I'm going to echo the great Alex. If you have a CP, maybe you can get them to give it a peek? They'll let you know. Personally, I'd finish it just because I'd want to see how it turned out in my own brain.

Best of luck!!

IWSG
Elsie

Mark Means said...

@jaybird: Yeah, I guess there's no easy answer, huh? Well, thanks for the support all the same. It's appreciated :)

@Alex: That's not a bad idea either...and shelving is has run across my mind a few times.

@mshatch: True..a fresh pair of eyes could help, for sure.

@Amanda: Oh, I hear you there. Dialogue can be tough..especially in trying to make sure to differentiate between the characters.

@ilima: That's a great idea, too. I've been kind of/sort of doing just that...but on a smaller scale (if that's possible) :)

@Mike: You know....I, honestly, hadn't even thought of that. I guess I've been so focused o this first draft. Actually an excellent Idea...thank you! :)

@Al: I may be doing just that. Nice to hear another affirmative on the second draft :)

@Julie: Great point and something I've been meaning to do, actually. I have a couple of projects that could use some attention.

@S.P.: Those are some strong points, too, and I may be leaning in that direction. I'd really like to finish it, just so I can say I did..., but it might not be as pressing as I originally thought.

@Brandon: That's something I'll definitely be keeping in mind, thank you :)

@Stephen: While that's not a bad idea, I don't think this story lends itself to that unless I try to do every chapter as a 'cliffhanger' (which would fit the genre)....hmmmmm...

@Diane: I think that's been a lot of my problem...my heart hasn't seemed to be in it as much as it once was.

@Lee: It's tough, for sure!

@Robin: I've tried to read it a couple of times, but haven't gotten though the whole thing. Not because it was boring, but because I think I might have been looking at it too critically. If I can tone down 'editor mode', it might be easier.

@Deanie: I've been looking for a local writers group with no success so far. Great idea, though :)

@Julie: Thank you...maybe stepping back and then going for a second draft might be what I need....

@Suze: Heh, that's a great idea, as well....-starts lacing up the boxing gloves- :)

@Brandy: So very true...burnout might be part of what I'm feeling, too.

@Andrew: I've heard that too, and really would hate to set that sort of precedent for myself. Though, I don't want to waste time, either....

@Suzanne: Thank you...it's a tough call.

@Elise: That's not a bad idea, just a matter of finding that person. LOL...yeah, we're getting hit with that too, down here in Vero Beach. Unfortunately, you all picked "rain week" to come down for vaca. The good thing, though, is that it -usually- doesn't last for long and is intermittent. I'll do a sundance or two for you :D

@Jennifer: Thank you very much...I'm going to have to do some thinking, but I appreciate the input :)

Mark Means said...

@Sheena: That's true and I've been, kind of, giving it a break. I have a 'mini writer's retreat' coming up this weekend as my wife helps out a friend with her business, so it might be a good time to see what's what with it :)

@Elsie: That's a great idea, but I've never considered myself ready for the "Critique Partner" stage, yet, (which is an IWSG post for another month)and it's not that I'm not open to it...I just don't know how good of a CP -I'd- make, to start with.

Jeff Hargett said...

It needs an ending?? You're obviously not acquainted with "The NeverEnding Story"...

All things being equal, my 2 words would be "finish it"... There comes a time during "book-birthing" when labor pains overtake the "expectant glow".

Even if you decided that it isn't marketable or whatever, there is still value to be gained by continuing the process. (I say this as though there is not another project nipping at your heels. If there is, that changes the equation a bit.)

Going through the entire process (idea to finished draft) will at a minimum prepare you for the next manuscript. And completing a manuscript just feels so good. :)

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I recently signed a contract for a book that I loved but that I thought wasn't good enough. I took a few months and retyped the entire thing, changing, deleting, using the original as an outline. It was easier to just totally rewrite. I kept the same plot, for the most part, but fixed all the stuff that needed it. Don't know if my method would work for you or not.

Cynthia said...

Ultimately, what you do with your WIP is your choice. Have you run your work by any critique partners yet? When I work on endings, I try to see to it that my main protagonist is not the same person or at the same place s/he was at the end as s/he was at the beginning.

Rachna Chhabria said...

Hi Mark, why don't you give your MS to one of your crit partners. Their insight and feedback will unlock the doors and you may even chance upon your ending then. If that's not possible, distance yourself from your ms for the time being.


Rachna Chhabria
Co-host IWSG
Rachna's Scriptorium

Melissa said...

I had a similar problem with my current WIP. Here I was, 3/4 of the way done with the draft, and I STILL hadn't figured out how the climax scene with the villain was going to go. A trusted critter graciously agreed to brainstorm with me (although I rued ruining her objectivity for the crit), and we worked it out.

As it came together, I was able to craft it so I cut a couple scenes and let some important info come out during the climax--making it even better and speeding up the pace. Now, not only am I un-stuck, I'm totally stoked to get it finished.

Sometimes it just takes a fresh set of eyes and a few questions from an outside observer to make the light bulb come on. :)

Another option: Have you tried working backwards from the ending? If you have ideas for the ending, plot them backwards to where you are now and see if one fits better than the others. It sounds crazy, but plotting backwards works.

M. J. Joachim said...

Go with your gut, Mark. Sometimes our work is a stepping stone not meant to be published because it leads to a much better work we're meant to write. I've had articles I knew I couldn't publish, only to find that when I looked at them differently, they became something completely new that I was proud to publish. Step back and be open to what your work is saying to you. You might have a masterpiece buried in the depths of your soul waiting to be revealed through the work that's causing you so much hesitation.

Rebecca Green Gasper said...

I think we all hit that same wall now and again. I have been struggling on and off with my latest WIP...not sure if it bc it's hard to come off a polished project or if it is the work itself...anyway- try 'beating' it out and maybe it will be more clear what is missing. Or I agree with Alex, chat it over with a writer pal- maybe they can help you see the light! :) But regardless, believe in yourself- you're amazing :)

LD Masterson said...

Trying telling yourself the story. Don't read it, just tell it to yourself out loud, like a story around a campfire. See if you can find that elusive ending. If find the ending, then go back and write the second draft. If not, maybe it's time to work on something else for a while.

Gina Gao said...

If it were up to me, I would take it chapter by chapter.

www.modernworld4.blogspot.com

Mark Means said...

Thank you all -very- much for the great input. I don't have any CPs, or anything like that as I've never thought I'd make a good one, myself. Maybe someday, though :)

I'm still not sure which way I'm going to go but, again, I really appreciate all your thoughts and ideas.

I have an opportunity to hole up for a 'mini retreat' this weekend in Jacksonville (while the wife helps a friend out with her business) so I may give it another once over, just to nail down a solid decision :)

The Golden Eagle said...

I'm in a similar position--working on a NaNoWriMo project that I'm not sure is even worth finishing anymore. My inclination is to buckle down and finish the thing just to get it done, though obviously I haven't gotten around to that yet. :P

Shell Flower said...

If your heart isn't in it, leave it. You can always go back later if it calls to you. You've probably learned a ton since you wrote it, so starting something new that will motivate you will help you write more. I'm a believer in finishing things, too, but I also have 2 novels that I "finished" but are totally trunked, as well as a 3rd novel I'm revising and a few half novels that just weren't going anywhere.

J.L. Campbell said...

Hey, Mark,
Those questions get me at some point too, which I suspect is why I always have more than one book going at at time. :) Work on something else and then see if you feel differently when you go back to it.

John Wiswell said...

Alex's notion of bouncing the concept off some writers you trust could work. My method would be re-reads, but that seems to be stalling out for you. Alternatively, have you tried skimming the novel, or outlining what's happened, in order to getting a sense of how the thrust ought to pay off and shaping from there?

Allison said...

Hmmm... sometimes first novels are really only good as practicing tools (I know mine was) and it's best to just move on. But only you can say for certain.

Allison (Geek Banter)

Scribbles From Jenn said...

I think stepping away is a good thing. I agree with Stephen King; Ask the question, step away and let the boys in the basement (your subconscious) do the work

Lynda R Young said...

This sounds super familiar to me. I went through hating my manuscript because all I could see was the amount of work I needed to do on it. I didn't think I could get it to a stage where I could possibly even maybe like it. To be honest, I'm not sure what kept me going, but I did keep going and now it's in a far better place and I actually... gasp... like it.

Recognising how much work a manuscript needs, is an important step to take. It means you won't settle for 'near enough'.

Misha Gericke said...

I often finish my first drafts without ending them.

To me, the first draft is about finding the story and what I like. Once I know, I write the whole thing again, keeping the things I enjoyed.

Maybe you should try that?

Nicole Rivera said...

I say finish it. And I'd also like to say: learn from this. I made the same mistake before - going back to edit and such before I am done - and I have realized this is not effective.
Do you watch American Idol? It hasn't happened in a while, but I remember in previous seasons various contestants starting a song, messing up something (lots of times I didn't even notice!) and they would stop the band, stop everything and say, "Can I start again?" It was the most frustrating thing!! I just thought about this last night and realized that is exactly the same thing we do when we stop and edit before we finish the story.
Finish your song first - no one can hear your "mistakes" now, you can fix them up the next time you sing (revisions).

Lisa said...

My two cents is: You should take a bit of time, sit down and read it through to the end. If after that you still can't make up your mind, move on to something else. I have found that if I just read it through, don't edit, don't mess with it, just read it through I find out whether I love it enough to do what it takes to finish it, or I don't. The reading usually gives me my answer.

Lisa said...

Sorry, forgot, plus, if you don't love it at the end of the reading, even with all it's warts, that you can fix, how will your readers feel about it?

Tyrean Martinson said...

1 You are a good writer. How do I know? I've read your snippets, and I've read your blog. You are a good writer. You can do it.

The question is, what to do?

Only you can answer that, truly. I think deep down in your gut, you probably know.

If you can get some feedback, that might help. In fact, when someone gets excited about your story, it can be a huge encouragement. So, I suggest, getting some feedback and getting some very specific feedback - not on grammar and all that stuff - but on the storyline and characters.

Either way, keep writing. If this story isn't something you want to passionately pursue right now, and you have other ideas that sound really exciting, shelve it for a few weeks (or give it to someone and meanwhile), and start that new, exciting idea. Then get back to the first book in a month . . .

Anyway, like I said, keep writing. You are a writer, and you are a good writer.

Manzanita said...

Only you have the real answer but it's also mighty frustrating pounding those square pegs in the round holes.

klahanie said...

Okay Mark,

Yes I know, you've been eagerly awaiting a comment from me in regards to your posting.

You know it really is true, if it doesn't feel right, you have to come to a decision. A decision that only you can truly make. Are you passionate enough about your WIP. If you are, then you will find the ending that will be just right. It might take some time to get the ending to your satisfaction, but you can do it.

What are your priorities, my friend?

Gary

Milo James Fowler said...

Endings are tough for me too. Finishing what you start is a good way to begin -- then set it aside for a couple months, work on something new, and when you return to revise, you might have a better ending in mind.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...