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Process vs. results vs. goals & challenges

Not sure where I’m going with this post, but it’s probably somewhere. The latest plan–which consists of waking up and dictating some fiction, which I’ll admit doesn’t seem to be all that complicated–is working to some extent. I’m producing words again.

Couple of things to note:

First, this business of stopping one story in favor of starting another, or even leaving an unedited/messily-transcribed version lying around, seems to be an error. It’s very hard for me to go back and work on those stories. Or, at any rate, it’s very hard for me to do this and feel as if what I’m doing is part of the story-generating process.

Second–though I want to go back and explore that first bit some more–I think it may be an error to have more than one goal in mind. Specifically, trying to write a story in a day is not only challenging, but also more than a bit restrictive when it turns out that the story I’m working on is a bit longer than I had previously (unreasonably) hoped. So what do I want the most? To complete a given number of stories in a given amount of time, or to write fiction every day? I think it’s the latter, or it should be, and I should therefore untangle my priorities.

That second part should have been obvious from the start, so let’s move back to the first. It sounds like pure laziness. Maybe it is! But there may be another factor in play. Dean Wesley Smith talks about creative voice versus critical voice. For some reason this reminds me of Dune (by Frank Herbert) and it’s oft-repeated claim that “fear is the mind-killer”…and come to think of it that may be the entire point I’m trying to make.

Typically, Dean warns against allowing critical voice to speak up and interfere with creative voice. Nitpicking one’s work as it’s created does–my opinion here–interfere with being able to achieve and maintain a “flow state.” Okay, we’ll take that as a given and move on.

Whilst ostensibly moving on? Let’s back up a second. When I wrote my first novel, I ended up doing 12 or 13 (don’t really remember anymore) drafts of the damned thing. I found doing those drafts to be considerably easier than writing new fiction, and at the time I thought that’s what “real” writers did: rewrite.

So what’s the deal? I have nearly-completed stories just sitting there, and the very idea of editing or extending them seems to shut down my brain. Maybe it’s a matter of completing one project before moving on to another? Maybe it’s a matter of restricting my first-thing-in-the-morning writing to new-fiction creation? Maybe both?

Worse, trying to work on those stories seems to block new ones from emerging from my sad excuse for a writer-brain. And yet I like those stories.

This sort of brain-shutdown feels just like the sort of mental ineptitude that attempting to outline a story in advance polls from the depths of my soul. (Hidden benefit of dictating rather than typing: I had said “pulls” but I think “polls” is way more funner.)

Fixing text as I go, what Dean Wesley Smith calls “cycling,” is actually sort of fun. On the other hand, returning to fix it later is unfunnerly. (Dictating that one was also fun.)

Does this mean that later editing or extending or rewriting can never happen? Better not. That would be pretty stupid, given that I do, after all, have these stories sitting around. But maybe edits need to be relegated to some other time, something that is not first-thing-in-the-morning time, so I can get out of my own way.

So when do edits of semi-abandoned projects happen? Beats me. Don’t care. Maybe someday. I need to focus on writing new fiction every day, and specifically first thing in the morning.

What does this mean for the September challenge? Beats me, again. I don’t think I’ll deliberately start working on a novel again until October 1, but I’m not going to fight it if that’s what happens. I’m going to try something else, too, and try to quit deciding in advance how long a given story should be.

Meanwhile? I just found out that our current crop of foster kids will be sticking around for a bit longer, which is mixed news but good-ish. Though, yes, one of them is here for the long term–which makes me smile every time I think about it.

Have fun out there, and I need to go pick up the kids.

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