Spiraling

I am as determined as ever that I will write a book.

But I have no idea what that book will be.

I realized a while ago that I am not a natural storyteller. I love to build worlds, I enjoy character creation, and I love the ideas of stories… but actual stories? Cause and effect? Plot points? Ugh… It just does not come naturally to me. It’s like staring into a black void and trying to see the shape of the thing and sometimes you think you can squint and maybe see a corner or a limb but then you’re not sure and the more you look the less you see and… That’s what plotting is like for me.

And part of the result of that struggle and uncertainty is that it’s difficult for me to commit to any story. I can get the start–the vague idea, the characters, the setting, even the meta elements (things like what the movie poster might look like… yes, I know, I’m insane). But at some point you have to sit down and figure out the story. And that’s when another idea looks better, easier, maybe even the elusive story-that-writes-itself. A story that I won’t have to sit, and calculate, and design, and choose–a story that speaks through me effortlessly. A story that flows with passion. Because when I’m staring at the blank screen at the outline stage (which, if I didn’t do, would just result in staring at the blank screen in the writing stage), I don’t feel like I can do this. Not necessarily that I’m bad at it, if that makes sense, because I’m at least theoretically prepared to be horrible at it in a first draft. But like I simply cannot do this.

Like I’m not meant to be a writer at all.

And then I feel horrible, because that’s all I’ve ever wanted and I’m just being dramatic and self-sabotaging and come on… But it happens again, and again, and again. And I’m really running out of ways to keep pushing.

But I am going to keep trying. Perhaps this is something all writers feel (although there are those authors who speak of a story that won’t let them not write it, or keeps them up at night, or seems to write itself… I hate those bastards).

I’ve been trying to choose a story, any story, just to write it and force it if I have to because this is what I want–and I’m putting all my eggs in this basket and I’m running out of time. I set a deadline (with the promise of a reward if I meet it), and now I just have to pick a project to work with.

And of course, this is when I begin to spiral. I’ll pick a story… for a few hours. Then I’ll pick another, or try to do more than one, or tweak this or that. At this exact moment, I’m considering working with the story I was attempting earlier (the failed pages)–but instead of making it a series, condensing the entire story into a standalone. I know what happens in that story, in detail, and even though originally it was meant to span a series, it could work as a standalone (and would already be plotted, and certainly not lacking for amount of story). And that might be refreshing in a genre that is dominated by series. Though I can’t help but want a series for myself… 🙂

The problem with series is that you have to tell either one really big story or multiple sequential stories. And as I mentioned earlier, I have a problem with stories. Which, I realize, sounds pretty strange for a wannabe writer to say.

What do you do when the only thing you’ve ever wanted is the one thing you can’t have?

Okay, I promise I’m going to stop whining about myself soon. Hopefully, I’ll be on-track with something, but even if I’m not, I’ll try to contribute something worthwhile. At least something a little less… me, me–oh, and more me.

Because no one wants that. Least of all me.

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About J. Sevick

Just write.
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