You know that feeling you get when a relationship starts to go sour? I’ve been getting that feeling lately. At first everything was fine. We were happy together, the world was a rosier place whenever we spent time together. But lately things just haven’t been the same between us.
Which is why I’m announcing a separation.
I’m not talking about my wife. I’m talking about Babel and Icarus, the story I’ve been working on over the last month or so.
A while back I mentioned the concept of Babel and Icarus in my blog post titled Thaddeus S. C. Lowe and the Steampunk Space Race. Basically I wanted to tell the fictional tale of a space race between the North and South during the Civil War.
I was in love with this idea. It had all my neurons firing at full speed, and I really got sucked in to crafting a storyline that I felt had a lot of potential. But the Devil, as they say, is in the details, and when I actually sat down to write this tale I thought I had fallen in love with I felt myself grinding my teeth over each word, forcing myself to eek out one pathetic page at a time, hating each and every moment of the work.
I started to stress about my writing. I worked my routine over in my head trying to find the flaw in my plan. If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, no doubt you’ve seen the fruit of that struggle. But eventually I realized that my problem was simple: I was really starting to hate this story.
Maybe hate is too strong a word. But I don’t think so.
Don’t get me wrong. I know writing is hard work. I know it’s not always going to be fun. I know sometimes we have to push through the hard times to get to the good stuff.
But there has to come a time when you can say, “Enough with this thing. I’m going somewhere else.”
Because I don’t know about you all, but I have to do things I don’t really want to do every day of my life. I don’t want writing to be one of those things.
I’m not a freelancer. I don’t have a problem with freelancers, but I’m not sure I could be happy in that profession. Writing is something that I love, and I want it to love me in return.
So for now, Babel and Icarus is on ice. I have a feeling I’ll come back to it, because I’m not going to stop loving the idea, but it may be years before I ever finish a rough draft, and I’m okay with that. For now, I’ve gotten myself sucked into a bit of weirdness with an old woman and a talking corpse trapped in the world strangest book store ever.
In spite of my preaching about outlining and planning at this point I have zero idea where this tale is going to go. I may be getting on the fast train to nowhere with this thing, but so far I’m having a great time on the ride.
Again, please take this with a measure of balance. I’m not suggesting it’s a good idea to give up on a story every time you don’t feel like writing. But I am saying that forcing yourself to keep working on something that you hate, is a fast track to misery.
For more on the benefits of giving up, I thing you might find this to be rather informative.
Every time I have to give up on a story, it’s because there are parts that I haven’t worked out yet and that are stubbornly refusing to allow me in. Sometimes you just have to let it go for a while. If it’s a good story, it will still be cooking slowly, somewhere in an obscure corner of your mind. Eventually, it will give you a poke and say “I’m ready.”
Great advice. The best solution to a blockage is to go away from it and come back later with fresh eyes and new input from new experiences and info!
I really liked this whole post, but especially the line, “Writing is something that I love, and I want it to love me in return.” Well-said!
I wish Babel and Icarus would have treated you better. They don’t know what they are missing.
Sometimes, if I don’t get that first draft cranked out pronto, I fall out of love with a story. Just like a marriage, it takes a special connection to make the partnership work over the long haul. May your new creative mistress bring the joy back into your life!
I enjoyed your post. We writers like to agonize but either a story gets written or it doesn’t – the world will continue to turn either way 🙂
Perhaps the best trick is to keep writing until we find a story that we feel compelled to write to the end. I find that I can separate the write I do simply for money from the work I do just because.
Sometimes in our lives, whether it is working on a story and we are stuck, or other things in our lives when we are stressed or overwhelmed with something else it helps to take a step back and give your mind some space…time to do something else for awhile.
Aww, I’m sorry you started getting to the point of, mild hate, (does that work for you?) That can make anything written annoying. I think it wise you stopped while you were ahead and decided not to force it. If it’s something you love, and you know that at some point you want to work on it again, you will. Sometimes just leaving it alone for a while will take it to new places. I have a story I have been working on for 6 years. It hasn’t gotten very far, and I love the premise and everything. But I know that if I try to force out the story and everything, I’m going to just want to flush the thing. So, I dabble in it. Eventually it might become something, but for now, I know it’s there, I know I can work on it bit by bit, and maybe someday it will be good.
Best of luck with your, uh, other ideas though… 🙂
It’s always sad to give up on a story. However, sometimes it has to be done.