15 October 2010

Exhaust Ports on the Death Star

I don't know about you, but coming face to face with personal weaknesses always disconcerts me.  Lately, it has been happening more than the law of averages would account for.  In my opinion, any way.

It used to make me angry and embarrassed with myself.  Now I just seem to sigh bemusedly and mumble to myself.  Today, I underwent two separate episodes of Weakness Realization, of two very different sorts.  One made me self-conscious, the other made me a bit worried and sad.

Second one first.  It has to do with my internal struggles on being a writer, on wanting to be a novelist.  Two years ago I would have scoffed loudly at the idea that I could/would write a book.  In the light of those days, that notion would have reeked of absurdity.  It just didn't seem possible.

Then I stepped out of my personal journals and went Webby with the blog.  Not with the idea of writing a book, mind you, or becoming an author.  It was simply to get the noise out of my head, and maybe find out what other people would do with that noise.  With the positive feedback I received, I felt more empowered to keep at it.  Again, this was without a plan to become a writer of books.  It wasn't until I started writing some things in series that people (i.e. you, dear readers) began asking me if/when I was going to write a book.  The idea then took root and certainly fired my imagination.  So, then, to the book!

Astute readers will already be saying to themselves "But, Gumbo, where's the book?"

Ah.  You see the problem.  The elephant is in the room, and it's sitting behind me, isn't it?

I begin to hear whispers about the emperor's clothes, or something like that.  This is truly the nubbin of the problem (or the "Crux O' De Biscuit" as my late brother was fond of saying).  I have not written a book.  I don't have a hard outline for a book.  Writing a book...intimidates me.

And that is the real problem.  I have a lot of ideas, but they usually manifest themselves in poems and short stories.  A lot of one-off happenings, and I have been unable to find the bridges between them.

I think in titles.  I think in short stories.  My brain seems to compose writing like DNA: small molecules of few components that have the potential, potential, to grow into something great.  Under the right combination of nature and nurture, all the noises in my head could maybe be turned into a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.  Yet, this has not happened, and I'm unsure as to why.

Well, that's not quite true.  I have an inkling of a trace of a ghost of an idea as to why.  I think there is a certain courage, or discipline, or nerve one needs to make that leap from random scribblings to coherent novel.  And I?  I can't figure out if I have it.  Maybe I do, and am just scared of the commitment.

But I sure would like to write books.

The first thing I mentioned above, in the second (long ago) paragraph?  Is not so much a weakness (or weaknesses) as it is something that could be potentially be used to take advantage of me and the soft spots in my heart.  Not necessarily for malevolent purposes, mind you, but that which could put me in a position of not being able to say no due to not entirely unpleasant befuddledness (is that even a word?).  It has to do with a realization I had today, one that I voiced to myself in the safety of my car...and put into words some wants long held but never acknowledged out loud.  Talking to myself, I had to laugh.

I'll let it go at that.  Stories for another time, perhaps...


  1. Make a book of short stories. First time authors often release their first book as a short story compilation.

  2. I'm with Maggie. A compilation of your short stories would be great! Or your poetry!

    I'd buy one... or two.

  3. I agree with Maggie. Short stories. You've got a few, eh?

    Also... you'll have a book when it's ready to be written. I'm sure it's in there somewhere.

  4. You should try NaNoWriMo. Starts Nov 1. I've done it a few times and I've (foolishly) signed up again this year hoping to kick the nasty stress and stuff to the curb to allow me to get my writing mojo back.

    It may end up being 50k words of crap. It might be the worst idea I've come up with yet (It's not like I have time to devote to actually doing this or anything...) but...it may help YOU get into writing something more book length. Maybe all your stories are connected somehow. You never know till you try.

    I don't doubt you already know what NaNoWriMo is, but google it if you don't. If you join up let me know.

  5. Keep writing the small stuff if that's all you've got at the moment. That's what I've been doing for the past year. I've probably got about 60 fragments of stories, a spattering of completed shorts and a handful of larger peices. As I go along I find that some of those smaller bits now fit into the larger ideas I've been working around.

  6. Dare to suck, my friend.

    This is one of the tenets of novel writing. You have to let go. Let go of thoughts that stop you from picking up a pen or typing onto a blank screen (that cursor blinks incessantly when you haven't put down a damn thing). Screw your inner critic. Screw that certain person you think may see what you intend to write. Screw anybody who's not supporting your dream. This is YOUR book.

    Think of Babe Ruth and how many times he struck out. He never would have made so many home runs if he hadn't struck out so many times in the process. The guy swung away at the ball. He dared to suck.

    Heh, heh. I know you can suck, too, Irish. ;-)

    I do regularly and, well, it hurts so good.

  7. Just posting to second all of the above.

    a) Short stories and poetry are often published in compilations. If you haven't posted enough here (and I understand that publicly posting your work can actually hinder it from being published...?) it sounds like there's a good possibility you have a pile of print-worthy work in those journals you mention?

    b) Lots of novels were serials first. Keep telling the stories you've started... eventually they become chapters?


    c) Hey - look - another recommendation of NaNoWriMo! Heh. http://www.nanowrimo.org/eng/node/3699214
    Doooooooooooooooo iiiiiiiiiiiit! ;)

  8. First of all, if befuddleness is not a word, it should be, and you should get paid for it.

    Secondly, just write. It doesn't have to be perfect, no one has to see it but you. I'm going to send you some very sage advice I got from Wade Rouse when I was thinking the same thing and facebooked him about it. He's a great, honest writer and I loved him even before I found out he is one of the nicest people on the face of the earth. Email in 3,2,1.....

  9. There is nothing wrong with getting a book of short stories published or even one or two stories themselves published. I don't have a burning desire to write a book. I have other burning desires and have written enough for 20 books. But right now I don't have the angst within that would drive a book.


"Let your laws come undone
Don't suffer your crimes
Let the love in your heart take control..."

-'The Hair Song', by Black Mountain

Tell me what is in your heart...