>The Bird Story is officially put away. I took some time off from it in early October, right before the move, thinking my fatigue with it would either lift and I’d come back to it with renewed enthusiasm, or else I’d figure out that it didn’t need to go any further and I should start something new.
It’s a little weird to admit that I’m not going to finish it. I don’t think that’s a bad thing, though. In retrospect, I went back and considered it from the point of view of the things I’ve been learning in How to Think Sideways, and I realized that it wasn’t “pinging” on the radar that is my creative mind bringing gifts to work with. So, while it was a nice story, and a good idea with interesting characters and potential for being entertaining, it wasn’t standing in my “Sweet Spot Map*.” In the meantime, I’d written a short story that gave me shivers of happiness and I thought, “What am I doing, fooling around with other stuff, when I could be playing with all these really cool toys?!”
So, as I think Holly Lisle‘s** method is really good, and it’s helped me learn how to harness creative impulses and get them to run the course, I’ve decided to go back to the beginning.
As part of my realization that it’s better if I keep my steps small for now, I’m not currently aiming for a novel, but I do have another short story in the works. Meanwhile, I’m editing the earlier short story, currently (and awkwardly) titled “Water Was in Everything.” (I’m the first to admit that I kind of suck at titles, so just let it slide for now).
*The Sweet Spot Map is a technique Holly teaches in the first few weeks of How to Think Sideways. It’s a simple exercise with deep results, allowing you to access underlying themes, desires, fears, and connections that, when made conscious and used in writing projects can first, help generate ideas, and then, transform them into great, invigorating ideas.
**I found Holly’s website, and the abundance of help she’s provided to writers, when I was writing a novel for NaNoWriMo in 2008. She has so much available for free. I recommend taking advantage of everything she’s put up on that site before taking one of her classes – not because there’s anything missing in the classes, but because you might as well explore all options and the freebies are different from the classes. It’s true, too, that her methods have evolved over time, so some of the freebies are early-drafts of what she teaches now, but they’re still useful. I happened to sign up for HTTS when it was being offered at a lower price. I don’t know if I would have signed up without that incentive, though now, of course, I think it’s completely worth it.
>This book project, the bird story, sure is a different creature from the one I wrote while we were living in China. I can think of all sorts of reasons.
*that one was NaNoWriMo generated, this one is not
*that one was written in a bubble in China, this one is being written while regular life demands my almost constant attention
* that one had fewer style and length limitations, this one has more – it’s meant for a younger audience (7-10, or middle grade)
*that one had myth and dragons and plant magic and culture building, this one is solidly this-world (though my bird characters don’t act like birds-as-we-know-them)
*that one had community because Owl and Kestral and I were all doing writing projects and we supported each other, this one is just me
*that one seemed like play, this one feels like work
>I set a deadline and drew up a schedule to help me regain my lost discipline. Now I leave the house, 3 times each week, go to the university library with my non-wifi computer and spend several hours with these options: work on my story that’s being cultivated in my How to Think Sideways class, work on a short story, or edit Dantseng’s academic manuscript. Now and then I lay my head on the desk and catnap because I’ve been up since 5:00, but so far so good.
I have an “early in the game” word count goal for the project I’m calling “the bird story” – right now it’s 500 words per day (not much compared to how my ’08 NaNo novel went, but this is a different creature and I’m dealing carefully with an almost-case of intimidation). This is good. So far my word count looks like this:
what I started with from a few weeks ago: 869
9/1 : 667
I’m taking Wednesdays off to deal with the million household things that accumulate while I’ve got my back turned. Tomorrow I’ll be back at it, and I’m not sure about Friday yet…