Story Graveyard,  Work-In-Progress,  Writer's Block,  Writing Journey

In-Depth “Failure” Analysis

The latest edition to the Story Graveyard is indeed my 2019 NaNoWriMo project, also known as my third and final attempt at rewriting “The Puppet Box.” I said I would try “one more time.” I did. I’ve already mentioned that I’m doing nothing with it because I don’t want to do anything with it, but I want to talk a bit about why I think it fell on its face. Learn from the experience. ^_^

Reason One: I couldn’t figure out what MC Riley wanted past her surface wants, which made motivating her to do anything extremely difficult, because what she wanted was for things to stay the same. That’s all. Nothing else. So, I thought, “I can work with that. She can fight to keep things the same.” And maybe on a better idea, that would have worked. But in this one, I felt like I was pushing her, and I feel like it should be the other way around: the characters should push me, to work harder, to write more, to whatever.

Reason Two: The idea had issues to begin with. I will maintain that I could fix this if I wanted. I could get it work, and it would probably interesting, but sorry, not sorry, that isn’t good enough. I don’t think I’m being out of line when I say I want to love everything I write and think it’s amazing. If I don’t love it, I’m not going to enjoy editing it. It’s going to be torture. And I can say this with confidence because I’ve been there before, multiple times, editing a book I couldn’t stand and wanting to burn all my stories past, present, and future to the ground.

Reason Three: Sometimes, I get attached to half-baked ideas and run with them even though I know better. It always ends like this: with me spending a bunch of time fighting with some dough, and now I can’t even bake it because it’s been manipulated too much, which will result in super tough and inedible bread.

Ultimately, I feel like all of my ideas flounder for one reason: the idea isn’t baked. Whether it’s a “good” idea or not, if it’s baked, at least I can write it without feeling like I’m chasing my own shadow. Which is pointless.

I’m always calling myself Dr. Frankenstein. I should embrace that more. Chef Frankenstein. I’m in the kitchen lab, throwing crap in a crockpot, and then when the timer goes off, which the story sets itself, I take the lid off and there’s a story inside! And it grabs me, and sticks around, and we’re happy together. This doesn’t mean I know what’s going on, but I have a story. This is what brainstorming is for. It’s the time I spend discovering what the hell I just made, so I can figure out what to do with it. ^_^

That doesn’t mean that all the books I love are good, or that all the books I hate are bad. So clearly, what I want more than anything is to have a combination of the two, the best combination: stories I love that are also great. ^_^

I feel like I sound super idealistic sometimes. Why can’t everything I write be amazing all the time?!! And I feel like I can get there, which is clearly my unwanted optimism talking. But to get there, some things need to change. I keep getting stuck. I keep losing focus. And it’s either stop writing or change. Or stay stuck, but that’s not the option we’re going with. And since I’m not quitting either, the only choice I have is to change something I’m doing. I’ve chosen to tweak my brainstorming process, because that has to be where the problem is, based on history. We’ll see what happens, but in the meantime, I remain optimistic against my will.

I didn’t realize I was optimistic until a few months ago. It’s why I’m disappointed all the time. LOL! If I didn’t have high hopes to begin with, then I couldn’t possibly be disappointed about anything later. So, instead of fighting it, I’m going to just embrace it, because it’s happening whether I give myself permission for it or not. This slight change in my writing process is going to be just what I needed. Things are going to be great. 😀


  • Michelle Athy

    Being optimistic about your writing is a good thing–it means you’re bringing positivity to it and your hopes for the work. We all get attached to ideas that don’t work. My FrankenIdea is on hold until this semester ends (next week!) and then I can spend some time hashing parts of it out. I’m looking forward to it!

  • Jodi Perkins

    This whole discussion (especially Reason 2) reminds me so much of THIS post: (not expecting you to read it–it’s oooooold). The irony is once I shelved my WIP, a few months passed and suddenly I started getting an itch to work on it again. It’s like, taking the pressure off is all I needed. Not saying that will happen for Puppet Box, just kind of an interesting thing that happened to me. I think Puppet Box has become a thorn in your side and it’s truly time to let it go.

    Love your third reason. Great analogy!

    • Krystal Jane

      I agree with the quote from Elise on your post. (Of course I ran over there. Lol!) It is totally okay to shelve something, and sometimes it’s not forever. I might still do something with the general world one day, and I still want to, but the rest of it has to go. I think I also had issues committing to the ending, and that didn’t help. I need stories with endings I can’t wait to write, not ones I’m iffy about. My fault, but still. Lol!

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