I’ve been somewhat reluctant this week to take time out to write a blog. At this point I’d rather be writing fiction, especially since I’m so close to finally actually finishing something. For once. But this very situation has given me plenty to talk about, so that’s good.
My current WIP is an urban fantasy about a demon hunter. The basic premise is, I know, well-used and possibly even, at this point, cliché. But have hopes that my specific take and characterization will make it worth reading. I hope… Now, most of my WIPs (and I have several, okay, quite a bit more than several) are high/epic fantasy, so, even though I read urban fantasy, writing in this subgenre is new for me. But when I decided to try NaNoWriMo for the first time this past November I wanted to a) try something new, and b) do something that wouldn’t require quite as much insanely in-depth world building as I normally inflict upon myself (the planning of which usually takes up weeks before I get around to actually writing the story). So, trying my hand at urban fantasy, which I love to read anyway, seemed like a good idea.
And apparently it was, because this is the first WIP I have ever come close to finishing. I have a very bad habit of starting something, getting stuck, starting something new, getting stuck, starting something new, getting stuck, starting… ad infinitum.
On Sunday and Monday, I took some time out of actually writing, to do some detailed plotting, and I realized that if things go according to plan, I could finish this novel in about 7 chapters. That is a BIG DEAL for me. Then, on Monday, having plotted out the specifics for these last 7 chapters, I immediately lost all pretense of concentration and got stuck again. And Tuesday continued on no better. Write a few sentences, then play around online. Write a few more sentences, then stare into space. Write a couple more sentences, then go get something to eat. Bang my head on my keyboard. All day. Yeah…
I kept trying to think ahead to the end, and couldn’t concentrate on the scene I was currently trying to write. And then, I simply couldn’t write anything at all. On Twitter, someone suggested a ‘fear of success.’ It’s certainly a possibility. But I think two things are getting in my way. First, a general excitement at the prospect of ACTUALLY FINISHING SOMETHING! – thus, my brain keeps jumping ahead the end. And second, and more importantly, I think rather than a fear of success, I am experiencing a continual lingering fear of failure. As long as I haven’t actually finished something, I can hardly complain about not finding an agent, or a publisher, or readers, or whatever, right? As long as I haven’t actually finished something, I can whine about lack of time or concentration for awhile, do my best determined-author “I will do it!” speech, and continue on as I always have. But the minute I finish something, I have to accept the possibility that no one will actually read it or like it. And THAT is TERRIFYING, especially after giving myself that determined-author “I will do it!” speech for so damn long.
But I am sick and tired of calling myself a writer, and having only a dozen or so unfinished novels and a handful of unpublished short stories to back it up. I realize that even if I finish this draft, I will still have months and months of revising and editing ahead of me, but even one single finished draft will put me a whole helluva lot farther ahead than I am currently. So I’m putting everyone on notice. I AM going to FINISH this. I have approximately 7 chapters left (if all goes according to plan). I’m giving myself two weeks, maybe three. And everyone is free (and encouraged) to poke and prod and pester me about it to your heart’s content. Because this is it, people. I’m calling myself out now. And if I ultimately fail, it will not have been without trying.
So, what do you do when nothing seems to put your concentration back on track? And how do you deal with a fear of success, or a fear of failure? Any suggestions?
Here’s one option: