All authors are aware of the ‘Oh Crap’ Moment. It can apply to a variety of things.
It can be that moment you realize you’ve written yourself into a corner and the only way out is ritual suicide or cannibalism. Or, how about when your character has run off to do Heaven-knows-what with Heaven-knows-who and you have no control over the plot and it’s time to either curl up and cry or hang on and pray. Sometimes, the moment is just a quiet, little ‘Oh, crap, I have no earthly idea what happens next and I’m out of coffee/tea/crack”.
Yesterday, I whispered the dreaded ‘oh crap’. I realized, all of a sudden, why my novel wasn’t coming to me at all smoothly. I had put it down to the fact that not only was I venturing into urban fantasy, a subgenre I am not used to writing in, but my protagonist is male. Not only does the fact that he pees standing up puts him outside my range of experience, but he’s also doing things like repairing a roof and flirting with girls.
Then, it came to me that the problem, much like mold in a ceiling, goes much deeper than all that. It may just be that the novel idea actually works better as a short story.
This is not something I want to realize in the middle of NanoWriMo, when I’m over 10,000 words behind on my word count. Not only that, but I’m also supposed to be blogging about Nano. How can I blog if I have no novel?
I could force it. Just write utter and absolute crap, all of which I know will be scrapped, until I hit the 50,000 mark and collect my electronic pat on the back:
Yay, you forced yourself to write stuff you’ll never keep because you’re just going to tear it down into a short story! Go, you!
To further complicate matters, I recently went to a writing group. Nice group of people who write mainly for fun, though one of them is actively seeking publication while another primarily writes letters to the editor. I wanted to take an excerpt of my Nano novel with me but deemed that it would be too long. Instead, I took an excerpt of another unfinished work entitled WILLOWS OF FATE.
They fell in love with it. The only critique was a grammar correction. This never happens to me. Whenever I present something to a group of writers, plenty of things are found wrong. But they all wanted to know what happened next and ended up lapsing into a discussion about character motivations and what could be about to happen.
So, on the one hand, I have this unfinished work I suddenly, desperately, want to finish because a group of people enjoyed it. On the other hand, I have my NanoWriMo commitment, which only has the bright flush of fulfilling it as a reward. And, I could always just blog about Nano on the next two Fridays, as I have participated before. It’s not like the Blogger Police are going to break down my front door to arrest me.
(There are no Blogger Police, correct? That’s just a myth?)
NanoWriMo is supposed to be about the novel, about sitting down and just writing without a care for editorial mistakes or plot holes. Glue your butt to the chair and pound it out. But what about when every time you sit down to write, you know that you’re just spewing a bunch of cliches and bad writing, when something really good is tucked away in a corner of your desktop? No matter what I do, I can’t stop thinking about WILLOWS.
Part of being an author is going with one’s gut, as well as using resources wisely. So, I suppose the question comes down to: would be continuing with my current Nano novel, which may very well turn out well despite how I feel, be a wise use of my time and talent?
Guess you’ll just have to come back next week to find out.