Monday, October 14, 2013

It Might be Time to Quit

I think this is a last gasp.  
I found myself wondering over this weekend if I should give up trying to write stories to publish professionally.  This entry is the first writing of any substance that I’ve written since Thursday, October 10th.  The three day gap is the longest I can remember having in...  Ever.  
There were circumstances.  Excuses.  Good reasons.  
Friday was a combination of stuff.  I made the decision to work on my finances, paying bills and updating my accounts, because I hadn’t done so in close to two weeks.  It was weighing on my mind and I felt I couldn’t focus on anything until I got that done.  I was being responsible.  Soon after that, while I was getting out of the shower, I got a call from one of my employees telling me that they couldn’t get into the office to start working.  I had to call people to get someone over there and immediately got dressed and drove over myself, without eating breakfast or making myself lunch.  It was my responsibility as the department manager.  I had to do it.  
The truth is, though, on Friday, I didn’t want to face my writing.  On Thursday, I had put down my first “real” writing in...  Checking my writing timesheet now for accuracy...  September 9th.  By “real writing” I mean story.  Characters speaking dialogue, wanting things, doing stuff to get those things they want, etc.  It was on September 9th that I started outlining my novel, again, in response to some things I picked up at WorldCon in San Antonio.  All of the writing I was doing for that month was about the story, but not the story itself.  
Once I got the outline done, I felt at a loss at what to do next.  Should I dive right back in on writing the novel.  I felt a bit exhausted at the prospect.  I’ve rewritten the first act about four times, I’m guessing, and the second act two or three times as well.  The third act is the same as when I finished it a year and a half ago, almost two years now, maybe...  Or maybe three?  Anyway, the third act hasn’t been touched since the rough draft was finished, since I hadn’t come up with a complete, finished draft of the first two acts to support it.  
To write “something” I tried working on a short story idea I’ve head for a couple of months.  It was inspired by an article I read in Scientific American about the future of robotics, about how the relationship with robots in the work place is shifting.  Today robots assist or complement human workers, but in the future robots will be giving human assistants instructions to help them do the work, basically turning robots into our bosses.  I wondered about that relationship, especially the part where the training paradigm given in the article was that the robots would learn the job by working with the humans and then take over giving directions at some point.  The story idea was the spark between that concept and some things that had happened at my own job when things had gone wrong.  
Anyway, I wrote an opening for the story.  I sort of jumped in a bit before I was ready.  I had finished an outline, but there were blank spots.  I thought that I might find out what happened in those spots by diving in and heading toward the deep end of the story.  
What I wrote wasn’t bad, I don’t think.  It wasn’t terrific.  There were things missing that I knew I had to go back and add in.  But, there was just something... Not quite there.  I found myself wondering if it was a viable idea.  I thought about all the times I’ve had stories rejected and wondered if maybe I just didn’t come up with publishable ideas.  “How long have I been trying to do this?” I asked myself.  What degree of success have I had.  If my success percentage were a batting average, I would have been sent to the minor leagues years ago.  
So Friday, I let my financials take precedent.  It was something very straightforward, very doable.  And when the call came in from the worker waiting outside the office, it was an easy decision to leave home then and there and rush over to get things started.  And after working thirteen hours that day, due to the roll-out of a new website for our clients, sleeping in on Saturday was a no-brainer.  And then there were the dishes that had sat in the sink for all that week, because I hadn’t had time to wash them because of my writing schedule, plus I had to go to the gym, and there was a party I was invited to, which kept me up late again, which lead to sleeping in on Sunday (I needed my rest, right?), after which I had to get my laundry started...
It was on Sunday that I faced the fact that I felt lost.  I didn’t know what I wanted to write about.  Or even if I should be writing anything, ever again.  I began to see the advantages of going to bed at a more comfortable hour and waking up in time to get ready and go to work.  The extra hour or so of sleep I could schedule myself for.  The extra half hour I could use to go to the gym.  There was an appeal there.  
There was also a sense of defeat.  A feeling that I was...  Well...  Old.  A middle-aged nerd that hadn’t learned that some dreams just don’t come true.  
I’m still thinking about these things.  I don’t have any real answer.  What I do have is the habit, which is what is prompting me to finish and entry this blog entry.  Habits, good or bad, are hard to break.  
Endings are always the hardest part of the story for me.  Maybe that’s what is happening right now.  So, instead of giving this a real ending, I’ll just stop.  


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