Hello there, fellow writer.
I'm in a curious mood this morning, so I figured I'd make a game of it. A big question for people whose fingers bleed words, whose minds create worlds, whose blood supply is somewhere around 50% coffee. Or tea. Or chocolate. We are nothing if not diverse.
So, how many Works In Progress (or WIPs, as we Twitterites prefer) do you have at the moment?
I don't mean ideas jotted down, or characters sitting lonely in a descriptive paragraph or two, waiting for you to give them a place to live.
I mean actual stories that have an excellent chance to reach the FINAL DRAFT finish line.
Wow, that many?
I'm not sure whether to say "Good for you!" or "You poor thing, you," because I know the emotions involved.
The elation when a new story pops out of your head, from that mystical, secret place that incubates such ideas.
The feverish typing/scribbling to get the words out when, at the beginning, they pour out faster than you can get them down.
The awe, when you realize this one's for real. This one is too good to toss aside just because you're too busy or it's too hard. This is THE ONE.
Okay, THE ONE of many THE ONEs. But still.
You know it when you see it, hear it, feel it, as you read the words back to yourself.
And yet, so many times such WIPs end up sitting there collecting dust, so to speak. The writing became difficult, the excitement petered out, and you became engulfed by all those little (and big) Real Life semi-catastrophes that had to get handled right now!
But after a while you handled the problems, life became calm again, and it was time to write.
How many WIPs are you actively working on? Not necessarily every day, because I know how that works — some days one of them is going so well, you go with it. You must. It demands it.
Other days, a couple of them take turns tugging you in opposite directions.
And then, sometimes you just have to let one sit for days, or even weeks. Let it ferment, like wine. And someday it will be ready for you to dive into it again. It will be intoxicating. Or maybe that'll be the result of the actual wine you're imbibing as you write. (guzzle, guzzle) What the hell. You earned it.
For a while now, I've had three major WIPs. One is a sequel to my soft sci-fi story, Poof! I had reached THE END, but it needed tweaking. You know how that is. But then one day last week I discovered THE ERROR. I had one major point completely wrong. Consequently, I have to do a helluva lot more than tweaking. I'll fix it. But, damn. So close.
My favorite WIP, though, is the urban fantasy/apocalypse novella that sometimes makes me feel all proud and writerly, and other times feels like its complexities have me in a choke hold. But it has so much promise, so many cool places to go before I type THE END. You know what that feels like, I'm sure. An awesome feeling.
But since it is a complex story, it won't be done soon. Matter of fact, the story itself keeps hinting — ok, nagging — that what it really needs is to be a full-length novel. Yeah, and every actor in a Viagra commercial thinks they deserve to star in an Oscar-worthy film. Dream on, Apocalypse Wow.
My third WIP, which I started only a short while ago ...
It was meant to be a very short, short story, but it keeps expanding. I started it for one reason, only. In the thin-walled city row home I live in, cigarette smoke from my next door neighbor (or at least the newest live-in boyfriend of the next-door neighbor) creeps into my house; my computer room, to be more precise. Ya know ... the place where I live. I write there. Eat there. Watch TV there.
Really, the rest of the house is just for the cats.
Anyway, I'm allergic to cigarette smoke, it kicks the sh*t out of my breathing, and so I started the story purely to vent. As writers sometimes do, I created a character who represents that smoke-spewing couch potato next door, and I planned to do very painful and horrendous things to him, before he dies a slowwwww death. Or gets eaten alive by something with very big teeth. After it plaits his intestines like pigtails.
You get the picture.
And I will do that. Eventually.
But in the meantime, a story happened, inside that story.
The cardboard cutout, cigarette-puffing asshat emerged, on his own, all 3-dimensional and interesting and human. He has feelings. He has a history. He has reasons why he does things. He has an admirable streak of snark to him.
Who the hell told him to do that?!
Isn't it strangely fascinating when your fictional characters decide they're not characters at all, but real damn people, and act like they're doing you a favor by allowing you to hang out with them? Do you ever wonder if they were always up there in your brain, maybe playing Pinochle with your muse, just waiting for their turn?
I read a quote recently, attributed to Stephen King (although I suspect that if he talked as much as quoters say he does, he wouldn't have had time to write all those novels). Anyway, he supposedly said that writers never ask other writers where they get their ideas because they know we don't know.
And that's the thing. I don't know where the hell this character came from. This craggy-faced, mysogynistic, air-polluting character created himself, when all he was originally designed to be was a target.
I will eventually do something dastardly to him, but to me he no longer represents my much-despised neighbor. Instead he's an individual, and a unique one at that.
Still, I am going to destroy his nasty self, in what I hope will be an exceptionally grotesque way.
I suspect it will feel magnificent.
Well, ya know ... for me. Not so much for him.
Copyright ©2015 Nik Barnabee. All Rights Reserved.
Image by Pearlmatic on Flickr Creative Commons