I have been obsessively stalking occasionally visiting the Amazon page for Cthulhu Unbound Vol. 1 in hopes of seeing a review of my story. I’m pretty new to the Cthulhu mythos, so I don’t have a strong feel for the size of its fandom. However, there’s a review that specifically mentions my story and in a very positive light. “This was a grandly entertaining read,” said this reviewer.
Yay! I am now experiencing a happy authorial buzz, which might help to counteract the grim frustration of realizing that, however tightly my prose fits, because it didn’t really do a good job of characterization, I need to suck it up and rewrite it, not revise it. I find I often end up rewriting things that I would prefer to revise. It’s a strange feeling when I go back and read something that I want to add more personality to. I look for places to add a word or phrase, but whatever I pick, it upsets the flow of the prose, so I can’t just do a little rewiring, but have to start again.
Several people have told me to just set it aside and keep going, then come back to it later. I’ve done that a number of times, though, and it doesn’t help, because I know that, when I come back, I’ll be as out of ideas on how to fix it as when I left it. Instead of being able to move forward with the confidence that I will be able to fix the problem, it lurks in my psyche, distracting me from the writing process. It’s not a huge weight, but as a fan of Getting Things Done, I’m learning that any weight at all can be a problem.
The scene that started this whole angst is likely to be rewritten, because I realized that I could get more across if the characters were already nodding acquaintances, rather than meeting for the first time. (Introductions are always so awkward!) I can probably keep some of the dialog, but most of the background stuff is going to get shoved out. (And I think I’ll finally cave in and kill the “darling” turn of phrase that makes it a darker bit that I want it to be. Worry and concern is good, but the anger is out of place. All I’d get from it is a little shock value from the readers.)
All this angst about a piece of fan fiction! Yet in some ways, all this angst is only about a fanfic, so I can get it all out without the pressure that, in the end, some mighty editor sitting at a desk high in the clouds will be looking at it through glasses perched precariously on the tip of their nose and deeming me unworthy of publication. It’s been a long time since I’ve thought about writing just for fun, for me, because I want to see a story happen. This might be a clue as to why I keep taking breaks from writing. It’s not that I get burned out, it’s that I get overwhelmed by the unrealistic expectations I put on myself. Since I would love some day to be able to write full-time, I need to find a way to deal with this recurring pattern that will let me be as prolific as possible. (Though I don’t think I’ll ever match the sheer churning-out-of-amazing-quality of the likes of Terry Pratchett and Brandon Sanderson.)
So, likely you will find more such ramblings from me as I try to deconstruct the psychological barriers between me and putting pen to paper. For some people, getting over it and writing might seem the more straightforward approach, but I have too much psycho-baggage as it is. (That sounds like my luggage is more insane than the Luggage!) Best to clear out the cobwebs so I can focus with a clear mind.
Also, somebody I’ve never met liked my story!