I’ve been working on a new story for over a week now, and it’s stressing me out.
First, I lost I don’t know how many days on a story that just wasn’t working. I’ve got a lot of thoughts about that, and my ultimate decision to put it aside, but more on that later.
After letting my brain recharge, I finally came up with a new story that I was actually excited about. I wrote the first 5K words in one sitting, which isn’t terribly impressive but felt really good after struggling to write a paragraph on the previous work. I had a rough outline of how I wanted the story to go and I had the motivation to get it there.
Or so I thought.
I’ve often had a problem with length when it comes to writing. It’s one of the reasons I hated writing in grade school – my stories would quickly get out of hand, becoming exhausting tomes that were a nightmare to finish.
When I started writing real stories on my own, it was a little different. I was torn between hating the feeling that the book would never end, and wanting my book to be real and novel-length. It requires a stamina.
The problem is that I’ve got deadlines. Not real deadlines, which is the advantage (and sometimes disadvantage) of self-publishing. There is not an editor waiting for me to turn in my next draft. But I have other limitations. My day job, which is only temporarily slow enough that I can find the time and energy to write. Soon I will be back to my regular 80 hour weeks. But before that is another deadline – I leave the country in February to participate in a medical mission trip. I will not have time to write. Hell, I’m not even bringing my laptop. Maybe I’ll be able to jot down some paragraphs the old-fashioned way (hey, for a few years I ONLY wrote by hand…but that was a long time ago, when everyone still insisted that learning cursive was vitally important). But I won’t be able to create covers, publish on Amazon, or market. There isn’t any internet where I’ll be going.
There is, shamefully, also the deadline of money. As I’ve discussed before, I love that I’ve returned to writing. It brings me so much happiness to be doing this. But I only got into it because I was looking for ways for me to make some money on the side. I’ve got bills to pay and not enough funds and it’s, you know, kind of a stressful. I don’t have the expectation to make loads of money from this venture….but it would be nice.
So I stress about finishing this book. Is it worth taking the time to develop the story, flesh out all of my ideas and turn out a novel (or novella) rather than another short? The author side of me says YES – write your story!!! My SO agrees, saying that it’d probably be a better product. But I have my doubts. What if after losing weeks to this story, no one buys it? Will I have lost all that precious time investing in a dud when I could have been churning out other works that would at least let me maintain my presence in the self-pub world? And worst – does any of this matter at all? Part of me thinks yes, absolutely – it’s work, but if I put it in, I’ll end up successful by some measure at least. But the real concern is, what if at the end of the day I’m just a terrible writer, and no matter how good I become at creating covers, writing blurbs, and advertising, I’ll never make enough money to justify giving up my long-awaited vacation time.
I’ll probably finish the story because at the end of the day, I do want to tell the entire story, and I hope readers will be as excited about it as much as I am. I don’t know what will sell more — I just genuinely don’t know enough about this to make a guess. I wish I did. In the meantime, I’ll write the story that I love.