I deeply admire those who can write novels. Who can weave a complex tapestry of destinies and happenings, of loves and adventures, of feelings and action, of ideas.
I used to try doing just that.
Since I was – maybe – twelve and until a few years ago, I have always been writing novels… I would always enthusiastically start a new one and then a while later abandon it only to start work on another. I couldn’t conceive writing anything but novels. Short stories seemed insignificant to me, compared to the scope of a novel. But then I realised that I was never finishing anything and that, no matter how deeply I was living in those novels, it would have been nice to actually finish something at some point. That plus the realisation of how cruel time is.
So I started working on short stories. Those gave me at least the illusion of a much closer (in time) ending and thus of a chance at publication.
Yet, it didn’t take me less to write them. I suppose that is the effect of several factors. In no particular order, among them I would place the lack of time dedicated to writing, the absence of will power leading to procrastination, a tendency to perfectionism leading to profound research and endless plot tweaking even for the shortest of stories, maybe even the fear that once finished I will have to leave this world I’m building. I also noticed that the more detached I am from the characters, the easier it is for me to write their story. The more involved I am with them, including making myself a character, the more difficult it is to complete a work.
This (again) extended time frame, led me to a somehow bad experience with one of my most beloved stories. The idea for it came to me in ’97 (I know because I always put a date on the notes I scribble down) and, on and off, it took me till 2005 to put the magical words ‘the end’ at the bottom of the last page. At about 22,000 words, it’s more of a novella size story. I was very proud of it and ready to start sending it out, although magazines hardly accept works of such a size. And then I bought Orson Scott Card’s excellent book “How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy” and in there, in a chapter where he enumerates various means of time travel, I found my idea listed under a famous author’s name who, obviously, had already published a (different) story based on the same idea, in ’99 I believe. What a dreadful coincidence! I was so terribly, awfully, hopelessly depressed.
But, hey, that’s life! The onus is on me to work harder, to work faster. To remind myself that I couldn’t live without writing and that, regardless of whether or not I will ever be a published writer, I will always be a writer. And, to thicken my skin.
I am now more afraid than ever to even consider working again on a novel. There is a harsh world out there. Moonrat’s wonderfully insightful posts about the world of publishing confirm something that I half-knew and fully suspected.
As the New Year approaches, I wonder if I should make a resolution…