One of the biggest problems for authors and storytellers in general is sustaining the stamina which is necessary to complete their projects. For instance, many people balk at the idea of writing 1000 words, let alone the 50,000 to 100,000 or more which typically qualifies a work as a novel. My fourth novel, entitled, ‘Not to Be Forgotten’ began two years ago when my first trilogy was reaching its final stages. Since then, although ‘Not to Be Forgotten’ now sits at around 60,000 words and the core of the story is complete, it still requires editing, expansion and, of course, illustrations.
Conquering this novel has been a major problem for me since its inception. My first novel, ‘A Sense for Memory’, although it has serious flaws in hindsight, seemed to pour from me as easily as a waterfall falling from a cliff. The next two, ‘Triangulum’ and ‘Tales from the Beyond’ similarly felt like a generally easy process.
The problem with ‘Not to be Forgotten’ is that the story concerns a character living in exile on an alien planet. There is very minimal dialogue and character-to-character interactions as a result and instead the narration is primarily concerned with describing action. For some reason, this really wore me down while I was writing it, and it is only now that I have realised that epistolary sections in the novel would go a long way to solving some of the issues I have with it. Completing ‘Not to Be Forgotten’ will also make it easier for me to focus on other upcoming novels for Z-Verse, like ‘A Sense for Memory II’ and ‘Revulsion’ (a follow-up to ‘Triangulum’).
While output has never been my problem, consistency certainly has been, and so I’ve decided that for the rest of 2018 I’m going to be making a special effort to get work done and finish the project goals I set out for myself and Zircona Works at the beginning of the year.
There are a few guidelines I’m setting out for myself.
1. Creating images and finishing the text for ‘NtbF’ is totally paramount.
This means that I have to start taking time every day to make this novel as perfect as I can get it. That way it will be ready for editing and I can finish this year knowing I accomplished one of my major goals. The Z-Verse will always be the number one priority when it comes to my work, so it’s not ever going to be bumped from the top of the list. I’ll have to create blog posts to document my process is lieu of anything else to post which leads on to point 2 below.
2. I should create regular blog posts to document my progress on this challenge.
I’m going to start writing some blog posts which show aspects of my process on the things I am working on. I’m not keen on cannibalising parts of my WIP Z-Verse material to post online, but I think simply talking about my work, whether I completed it or not, is pretty useful. A blog in and of itself is a creative project and certainly can help develop ones writing and editing skills, so: blog posts are in, radio silence is out.
3. I’ll be making a diverse range of content
I’m a multi-disciplinary storyteller so the things I’m going to be working on over the next 100 days will reflect that. I may be illustrating, painting, writing or finally pulling out my synthesiser keyboard to make some music for the Z-Verse. Motion graphics and animation also could be something on my agenda.
4. If I don’t make something precisely every day, that’s okay.
Although it’s awesome to make work every day and that’s the purpose of the challenge, the truth is that sometimes life gets in the way or a project turns out to be more than you can chew. In which case, I don’t see the problem in taking a break or skipping a day. The point of this challenge, for me, is to push myself to finish ‘NtbF’ and on the periphery to make more great content for this website, which I admit needs some work in order to become a place where fans would want to visit.
5. It’s time to put in a bit more effort and learn new things
I have a Udemy account just sitting there collecting dust. At the beginning of the year I swore to myself that I was really going to try and get the Z-Verse off the ground. My problem has always been that I care more about creating work than anything else – for a long time, I didn’t care about prestige, recognition, academic or career success, or even money! This attitude, which I find laudable, truly, has nonetheless faded for me. I become more competitive and restless every day. It’s not good enough for me to just finish something, I want to know that at least one person has enjoyed it and cares about what I’m doing. It’s not good enough for me to work at a place which is ‘okay’ – I want to really go and do something outstanding.
6. I’m going to be a better best friend to myself
By which I mean that I am going to take real steps to changing my inner voice to one which is more positive, nurturing and sympathetic. I read somewhere some time ago that if you would never dream of talking to someone else the way you talk to yourself, then something is seriously wrong. Ideally, you should treat yourself like a treasure or one of your loved ones. Sadly, a lot of people, myself included, are so tough on themselves that they see an enemy in the mirror every day. Maybe its time for me to take some personal steps towards addressing this flaw, particularly when it causes me so much stress and unhappiness.
So those are my guidelines. Although I’ve been doing this for the last few days, let’s call this blog post the first of hopefully quite a fair few. To start with, I’ve written a short story called ‘Guileless‘. Essentially, it tells the story of a teenage girl struggling with her parents’ divorce and the newly-blended family she is now a part of. This issue is now fairly common and isn’t going away. A lot of stories depict blended families pulling through and working past the differences but from my experiences and observations this is not always the case, and sometimes tensions can run way too high for any good to result. In this story I put the focus on the teenage girl (Agnete) because she is the one who feels that disconnection most keenly. She feels rejected and ignored by her father in favour of his new child and I wanted to portray this unpleasant and unfortunately too-common scenario with a horror twist.
Upcoming releases for Zircona Works as of the writing of this blog are:
Not to be Forgotten (novel)
A Sense for Memory: Part II (novel)
A Split Decision (Novel)
My Friend Darien (Visual Novel)
Tales from the Beyond II (Novel)