Friday, July 2, 2010

Exercising my Freedom to Vent

What better time than the 4th of July weekend to exercise my freedom to vent? Don't worry, I'm not venting about a particular person, although I do consider my manuscript to be my baby and the characters are very real to me.

I have to vent because if I don't, I may go insane. So please bear with me as I get this off my chest.

The manuscript I'm working on is a mystery. This mystery finaled last year in the Genesis contest. It won the 2009 FaithWriters Page Turner contest. It finaled again in this year's Genesis. These things make me very happy and cause me to think this story has definite potential. Since I love reading mysteries, the thought of writing one excites me. I love the overall concept of this particular story. I adore the characters. I even have several titles and ideas for other mysteries I'd like to write in the future.


This book has given me nothing but one long, splitting headache. I have revised it so many times I'm getting majorly confused. While this started out in first person, present tense, it's now mainly first person past tense, with a handful of other POV's thrown in. I've removed scenes, added scenes, and changed hundreds of details. I recently sent some questions to my critique partner to pass along to her husband, who happens to be a police officer, undercover detective and sergeant for over 28 years. I totally appreciate him taking the time to answer my questions and am so thankful to have input from a professional. But basically, he told me what I've been suspecting. I got a lot wrong. Or at least enough to warrant more revising... changing... reworking...


So now what? Due to my complete and utter frustration, I'm seriously thinking of bagging this thing for now and working on something else. I do have another ms I love that is about 30,000 words in. Or, I could work on the sequel to Mind Over Madi, the series my agent is currently pitching. Or, I could go with an entirely new project - one that's been rolling around in my brain for a while now. I could focus on one of those, if only to stop the insanity of this darned mystery.

But here's the thing. I really, really wanted to have this one completed by the conference. Not only because it's a finalist in the Genesis and it would look good to editors if it's ready to submit, but because I love the idea of the story and would be thrilled to see it published. Would putting it aside make me a quitter? Someone who gives up when the going gets tough? It certainly might look that way to an editor.

Maybe you're thinking, "Get over it. It's not the end of the world. Just make a decision and move on." And I agree. I want nothing more than to decide what I'm doing and run with it. But my mind isn't cooperating.

Before you ask, yes, I've prayed (and prayed and prayed) about it. I honestly don't know what He's telling me. I really don't think God has a particular novel in mind that He wants me to pursue. I think He's leaving it up to me. In fact, maybe this is what He's trying to teach me. To exercise my freedom of choice and just pick one already! Whichever one I choose, He'll be at my side cheering me on.

I'm probably not making a whole lot of sense. If you're still reading at this point, I'm surprised. (But thank you!) I just need to sit down and sort it all out and make a decision about which direction to go. Easier said than done.

I'd love to know I'm not the only struggling and confused author out there. Are you or have you been frustrated, confused, or irritated with your manuscript or writing life?

Please feel free to exercise your freedom. Vent away.


Yvonne said...

Yes... I feel the same way about my MG novel "A Home for Phoebe." It hasn't even reached the levels of yours, but I can't leave it alone. I love it and want to see it published.

I need to condense it down by about 30,000 wds for the that age level. It's hard to take out that much!

I have found it helpful to work on something else for a few months, then come back to it with fresh eyes. You're a great writer. It will happen someday.

Terri Tiffany said...

I was right where you are a few weeks ago. I'd written another book and then it did poorly in Genesis and then I went to a conference and they said they only wanted historical and romance soooo I finally after a long fit,shelved my newest one and tore out my old romance and am now revamping it, sending it for critiquing and feel a whole lot better about it all.
My other book needs about three chapters thrown out and ramped up abit and I didn't have the energy to go there yet.
You'll discover where your heart really is in writing the right book!

Diane said...

Uugh! So sorry for your frustration. Put it down and "surrender" it to God. Pick up something else and probably within a week a major brainstorm will happen and wallah! Hopeful thinking, right?!?!? :O)

Joanne Sher said...

I have NO ideas for you, Lynda, but know that I am ALSO praying for you. You'll know it when you get to it. That's what they say, anyway. RIGHT?

Rachel Burkum said...

I HATE feeling like that... but I have and actually currently do. I started an novel several years ago - I'm about 30,000 words in and have come to a screeching halt. I'm not even really sure why. I know what will happen, I have scenes laid out and I know my characters well! But for some reason, I just can't pick it up yet.

I've come to the conclusion that it just has to come in its own time. And when the time is right, I'll be able to pick it up again. Does that lessen the frustration any? NO! If only it were that simple. I get what you're saying about the pressure - I tried to box this particular novel into a time frame and my work became sloppy. Couldn't do it.

Thankfully, I don't have any deadlines. That's a blessing with this novel at this point but I know others sometimes don't have that luxury. I'm just relying on God at this point to help me know when the time is right again.

As far as being a quitter goes - no, you wouldn't be a quitter! Just because you set something aside doesn't mean that 1) you won't pick it back up again or 2) that your time, scenes or sweat were wasted in any way shape or form.

I talk about timing in a novel-writing guide I'm working on. But in the end, it's still tough to deal with. Hang in there - your answer will come!

Lynda Schab said...

OK...not glad about you ladies struggling with the same thing but it is nice to know I'm not the only one. :-) I need to take some time today to think and pray. Off to do that now. Thanks for the notes of encouragement!

susan miura said...

Hi Lynda,
Take a deep breath, step away from it for a few days and let the ideas come to you. Like I said in my email, you can use your new information to enrich the story. I'd love to see you pitch this at the conference, but ultimately, it is your choice. And remember I'm here to read your stuff, delete your commas and cheer you on!

Karen Lange said...

I've had ups and downs with writing, and I can relate in a small way. I know what it's like to work on a piece so much that I can barely stand to look at it. So maybe a break is in order, even for just a bit? You still have some time before the conference, right? Stepping away for even a week or two might help refresh you a bit and help gain another perspective. My two cents anyway...:)
Have a great weekend!

Michael Joshua said...

Yup - got one of those in a drawer too. For me, I've just been too busy to get back to it so the headaches stopped... Bet they're coming back soon.

Beth K. Vogt said...

Came over to say thanks for visiting The Ponderers--and found an honest writer! So refreshing!
If you can't vent on your blog, where can you vent? And sometimes there is no wrong choice. God does step back and say, "Hey, believe it or not, I trust you to make the decision here. Go ahead."
Maybe, just maybe, you should walk away from the WIP for the long holiday weekend--and see how you feel next Tuesday.

Lisa Mikitarian said...

I'm with you there, Lynda. My ms that placed with FW and Stiletto is in a coma--not dead. I think I worked those first three chapters ad nauseum, so that not only was I sick of them, but they no longer went with the other 15 chapters.

Then my Maddie asked if I'd write a book with her. She's so good. How could I say no? We are chugging along and enjoying it.

At some point I realized that my old ms was like a sewing project that I'd ripped apart and restitched too many times. I need a fresh, pristine piece of cloth and a new pattern.

When I take the old ms out of its coma (which I will), it will get new appendages--the other 15 chapters are getting tossed. Sorry for any bad visuals my words have produced:)

Go with your instinct, Lynda and your desire since you feel God will support your excercise of free will. Remember: God can't steer a still ship.

Love You--