buddy, can you spare some change?

I love a new year, have I mentioned that? I think I probably did. I like how it feels like hitting the Reset button, how you get to start over from the beginning and you have all these things to look forward to again. I realize time is a human contraption – and I don’t make resolutions, I think they’re silly. But I do like to look on January as a fresh start, even though it’s when Winter really gets going for us here, I start thinking ahead to Spring an all the things I want to do, like rockhounding and long walks on the beach. Sure, I can do that right now, but I’ll freeze my nipples off.And the changes that I’m about to talk about didn’t really take place in January, they were pushed into motion a little while back, and a little at a time. I’d come to realize I was spending way too much time at Absolute Write, not learning and researching, but just sitting there, staring, for no good reason. I had to get away, and after months of trying it on my own, I realized I needed help. Then the Great Tea Debacle came, and Pete challenged me to a month of self-banning from AW, and I took him up on it. Turns out, that was exactly what I needed. I was forced away, which removed a major portion of my ‘net time wasting, and allowed me to get back to writing and blogging steadily.

Around the same time, I was starting to feel frustrated with my writing. Bored, might be a better word. Everything I was writing was coming out sounding and reading exactly like everything I had written. And in the Great Tea Debacle, I had chosen a sequel to a series that isn’t selling. As a writer, that’s a stupid thing to do. If you can’t sell book #1, you sure as hell ain’t gonna sell sequel #2 or sequel #3. And while it was really a spin-off, introducing all new characters that I was really enjoying, the story itself really had no chance. If you can’t sell a series, why keep writing it?

So I put them aside, those new characters, and that whole premise I’d created because it really does deserve better. It’s a great concept, and they’re fantastic characters, and I’ll go back to them when I can give them the attention they deserve. They’ll no longer be attached to an unsellable series, but have their own playground.

Which brought me to the Penman Shipwreck, and what to do about it. I was frustrated, I was depressed, and more than a little desperate. ‘Round about then, things Pete kept mentioning were starting to stick in my brain. Ideas about handwriting, about changing, about finding new ground. I was realizing I needed a change. Not only in the physical act of writing, switching from the PC only to the pen and paper, but also in the way I was thinking, writing, and approaching a story.

I’d fallen into a routine. A rut. And it wasn’t a productive one, based on the collection of agent rejection slips I’m getting.

Then I had an epiphany. And over the course of a few weeks, it solidified. As I handled it, turning it over and around, looking at it from all angles, it started taking on a sheen.

And while I admit that — anywhere from one week to a month from now — I could be taking back everything I’m saying and claiming I was an idiot, I feel like I’m on a new path. Like I’m taking a new direction for new direction’s sake and it feels good. I’ve changed my usual, routine method of story telling. I’ve altered the mold from which every story I’d ever written seemed to have come from.

Ether isn’t anything like what I’ve done before. The style, the POV, the characters . . . even the genre, technically.

And it feels good. I’m liking it. There’s nothing to lose, after all, since the old way hasn’t won me any prizes. Perhaps this is the change I needed. Perhaps it’s a waste of a few months. Maybe this novel will be The One. Maybe it will fail spectacularly and gather more rejections. There’s a chance this novel could turn into a new, epic, detailed series that takes off and creates its own mythos. There’s a chance I’m not talented enough to pull it off and it’ll sit in a drawer somewhere, unread.

I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

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3 thoughts on “buddy, can you spare some change?

  1. My view on a series is, even if the first novel hasn’t sold, if you enjoy it, keep writing it. The characters and situations and such will just get more polished and familiar the more you write.

    I’ve heard of a few authors who second or third book in their series sold first and the others were eventually sold because of that.

    As far as changing things up to boost creativity, I say, whatever it takes. If that’s writing by hand, writing at midnight by candle light in the attic, or whatever, do what you think you need to do.

    I’ve been thinking about the handwriting thing and though I’ll never ever admit that maybe Pete was on to something by his backward attitude toward computers, the reappearance of the typewriter I started on got me wondering if maybe going back to my original working technque wouldn’t be so bad. That was handwriting the first draft. Typing the second draft. And retyping (instead of revising onscreen) each subsequent draft.

  2. I’m tempted to look around at all the antique stores in town here and see if I can find an old typewriter, just for fun. If nothing else, it’d be a beautiful piece of art in the house, and I could play around with perhaps first drafts or novel notes on the thing, if I can find ribbons.

    How cool of you to find one !

  3. I love a New Year, too…because even if it should end up being the same old thing, I can at least pretend it won’t be for a while! 🙂 Best of luck with the new direction in which you’re taking your project!

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