Monday, July 16, 2018

Quitters, Inc?

So this weeks topic is When do you quit a project, or do you?

the answer is, of course, you don't. Unless you are forced to.

Let me explain. I don't like quitting a project, I might set it on a back burner for a while, but I seldom if ever actually QUIT a project. To do so is to admit defeat, and I am as stubborn as they come when I want to be. I always want to be stubborn when it comes to my writing projects.

If that sounds like bragging, it isn't meant to.  I think stubborn comes with the  territory when it comes to being a successful writer. No one is ever successful who surrenders to the whims of fate or to publishing.

Okay, time for one of my favorite Harlan Ellison quotes (May he rest in peace, and I'm paraphrasing.) Basically w hat Harlan said was that to be a writer requires a certain amount of arrogance. First, to believe that anyone would want to read what you have written and second to presume that anyone would want to PAY for the privilege.

I don't think he''s wrong. But it's more than that, i think if you're serious about this business, then you have to be willing to dig in yoru heels and make something work, even when it fights you.

So, a few years back I decided I wanted to write a supernatural noir thriller.  Just sounded like something I'd like, so I sat down and started writing. roughly 45, 000 words into the project I turned to my friend Tom Piccirilli and said, "Tom, does this suck?" Tom and I started off around the same time. the differences are numerous but among them are the following: My shortest novel is fifteen thousand words longer than his longest novel. He was the one that pointed that out, by the way. I am words faster than Tom was at his very best speed, and oh, yeah, he won volumes of literary awards and I have been nominated a few times.

Tom is another soul lost to us these days and he is missed and if you have nto read his words, you should rectify that as quickly as possible, because he was an amazing writer in addition to being an amazing man.

I asked Tom for a favor and he did it for me. he read my 45,000 words of noir/crime/horror fiction and then he gently, carefully, wrapped the brass knuckles around his fists and tuned my ass up.  he was gentle, but he was brutal and he was honest. Turns out that maybe, just maybe, you should READ some of the genre's you'd like to write about. The kindest thing he said was that what I had written read like it was done by someone who had only ever seen the worst noir movies and thought that gave a good understanding of the genre.

He was not wrong. Currently, for kicks, I'm reading through the file and cringing a lot, because, really you should torture yourself when the ego considered getting out of hand. There is nothing technically wring with the writing. The story is fine.but there adept skill required to deliver the take is not there.

The good news? I now understand the genres involved a lot better and there are parts of this story I can use.  Most of it, really.  Surgery is required, but we can save this poor, misbegotten wretch. there might be scars, but it's salvageable as bits and pieces of something else. I'm already working the bloody thing out in my head.

There has been exactly one project I have abandoned. I was writing a sequel to my novel FIREWORKS and plugging merrily away when my computer decided to crash. When I say crash I mean epic failure. Complete devastation. The hard drive was a ruin.

I had not backed up my 40,000 words of work.

I looked through every disc I had, checked to see if I had emailed myself etc. Nothing. nada.

A little over 40,000 words. roughly 250 typed, double pages of work were lost.  even now, well over a decade later, when I think about the loss part of me just withers. I keep telling myself, maybe someday, but let's be honest here: No, it ain't gonna happen.

But bits and pieces of what I'd planned to do have been incorporated into another novel in progress.

So, no, I don't believe in quitting a project if I can help it.

You want to be a quitter? Maybe writing isn't the field fo expertise you should aim for.

Just saying.

Keep smiling,