What’s Stopping Me From Writing My Dream Novel?

You know, I think I’m going to wind up with a few more posts in the “stressing” category in the next little while, especially as I talk about the writing process. Simply because I’m trying to open a vein a lot more in my writing, and though I’m always going to be curious about the result, the actual process of exposing my emotions and then putting them down on paper is gonna be a nervous, butterflies-in-the-stomach experience.

(I wonder – is that the real reason they call those areas just off-stage ‘the wings”, ebcause those damned butterflies are always fluttering while you wait for your cue to go on?)

Last week I blogged about treating my projects with respect, and, of course, the Dream Novel was square at the top of the list. For a novel that I’ve wanted to write, Slamdance has been a struggle to write the last few times I’ve tried it. Each time I’ve found myself going off course, heading somewhere I – not didn’t want to go, but didn’t really care about going.

Maybe I’m expecting too much of the first draft. A lot of folks say that it’s meant to be crap, and that’s kind of cool.

But they also say that the first draft is for the author, and what I’m writing…

Again, maybe I’ve got this idea in my head about what writing ought to be like that a lot of paid authors would scoff at, but I feel as though at the very least that if I’m writing crap, then I should be having a good time doing it. I did when I wrote The Second War of the Worlds, my NaNo novel for 2010, so what stops me from having fun with Slamdance?

I’m playing with toys that I’ve been dreaming about playing with for years. What’s the difference between the one, which I won NaNo 2010 with and then went back to finish a few months later, and the other, which I crapped out on halfway through NaNo 2011 way behind target?

The answer, I think, is to do what I’ve been talking about for the last post or two: Open a vein. Dig deep, get past all the bullshit excuses and get the forceps around the real cause so I can dissect it.

When I think about The Second War of the Worlds, I had a definite vibration of feeling right the way through it.

I might have been writing about awesome stuff like tripod alien Fighting Machines, British troops in powered armour – I even stole the supercavitating UNS Angelus from the Kotwicki Brothers’ Deep Angel and lobbed it in there.

But I also used the Martians to write a lot of my feelings about eating meat, the cycle of life, the nature of conflict, the idea of deciding that you’re at the top of the food chain and therefore have the right to govern the lives and fate of those organisms below you, reshape their existences to your benefit. (I keep hemming and hawing over giving it a second draft, but I think it deserves one).

Likewise, Slamdance has a lot of potential for deep, topical stuff.

There’s an independent Australia protecting her borders (immigration, ties to other nations). There’s a menial labour force of clones (unemployment, sweatshop labour, outsourcing, what constitutes a job fit for a human being). There’s an orbiting factory where a single company controls humanity’s access to the mineral wealth of space.

(One of the things I’m working on at the moment is getting all the stuff out of my head and into a wiki so I can look at the connections and spend my brainpower thinking about other stuff instead of just trying to remember all the ideas.)

But when I think about Slamdance, when I think about what I want to actually write… I keep coming back to a love story.

Look, there’s a reason I interviewed Elizabeth Vaughan for the seventh episode of Paid to Play. There’s a reason I keep going back to her books, why she and I share a fondness for Anne McCaffrey.

Because as much as I love to explore new realms and think of cool people doing awesome things with badass machines, I keep coming back to the story of two people who don’t think they’re meant to be together, whom the rest of the world is telling that they shouldn’t be together, even when their hearts are telling them, “Knock the bullshit off and tell him / her how you feel.”

And every time I’ve taken a tilt at writing Slamdance, that idea has been the B-story. I’ve been trying to write everything else but that.

Maybe I need to accept that as much as Slamdance is a knockoff of Bubblegum Crisis’ HyperBoomers, as much as I’m interested in how a country handles in-sourcing the cheap labour it depends on for its t-shirts, iPods and cars, as much as there’s potential for sinister conspiracies and globe-shattering plots…

… when it comes down, what I want to write about is Mike, a four-month-old being who sometimes looks like a twenty-four-year-old man and other times a seven-foot red cyborg, and Jana, a high-flying corporate executive who hunts demons and hates cyborgs, and whether they can get together.

So before I start going back to the Snowflake Method or the Hollywood Formula, I think I need to write about those two and what’s in the way of their Happily Ever After. I need to write that first draft that’s For Me before I start polishing it into the novel For Everyone Else.

Are you stressing?

When did something you were working on keep not working out the way you wanted?

How did you solve the problem?


Elizabeth Vaughan

Bubblegum Crisis: Megatokyo 2033 on Wikipedia

Computer Graphics World article on Deep Angel