Monday, July 19, 2010

On WiPs

I hope that the project that currently holds the dubious honour of being my WiP (or more accurately, Work Not Exactly in Progress but At Least Not Abandoned Altogether [WNEiPbALNAA]), isn’t going to define my writing career. This story is an idea that started out as satire or societal criticism, it took a strange turn towards chic lit during last year’s NaNoWriMo, and when I picked it up again this spring it had morphed beyond recognition into a “find yourself and the meaning of life”-esque, Oprah book club-ish, cliché-cluttered cacophony of merged ideas and non-likable characters. If I am lucky, the character development will camouflage the thin story, a rewrite from tell to show will make at least some of the characters believable (though I only think one of them has the potential to be likeable), and the humoristic elements might save the entire thing from drowning in sappy lurv-scenes and descriptions of sunsets.


If I am very lucky (and even cleverer) it might be a societal criticism satire chic lit with Oprah book club potential.

But that is also all it can be. I am not bashing the societal criticism satire chic lit Oprah book club potential authors out there, but I can’t really see myself fit into this category with anything else I write. My other WiPs (or more accurately Works Not Exactly in Progress and Frankly Quite Lost and Forgotten [WNEiPaFQLaF]) are all very different from the WNEiPbALNAA. While I do not like to describe non-written works (not just because of the risk of someone else writing them, but also because I fear there are WNEiPbALNAA- and WNEiPaFQLaF-eating basilisks out there who might be hungry), let me give you an idea how my mind works.

The most prominent WNEiPaFQLaF is one that is insisting on not being forgotten (in fact, it is more of a Work Not Exactly in Progress but Impossible To Block Out Entirely [WNEiPbITBOE]). The idea for this one goes a couple of years back, though it also started radically different than what it currently seems to have evolved into. It’s got to do with history, and some trolls, and maybe a quest of sorts. I should think it will end up as a YA fantasy-ish thingie. Actually, I’ve got it pinned down more specifically than that, but shhh! I think I hear the basilisk lurking nearby...

However, due to the history part (which isn’t even close to the part of history I dabble with at the university) and the mythical creatures part, there is some heavy research required for this one. I want to do it justice, so I don’t want to do it right now. I just can’t see myself battle with more than one major research project at the time (and my thesis has a deadline – the WNEiPbITBOE doesn’t).

No matter if I decided to keep this one in the drawer until I am ready to tackle it, though, it won’t listen. It keeps bugging me with all sorts of details that simply *must* fit in. Also, whenever I see a mountain or go into the forest, inspiration bubbles and I can barely keep from getting back to it (I keep a notebook nearby at all times, though, since I am terrified of missing out on any of these details).

The third WNEiPaFQLaF (or more accurately – no, wait, this one really is a WNEiPaFQLaF) is a story (I am thinking novella, eventually) about a cloud. This might not seem all that interesting, but it is a very persistent cloud... This is actually the current story of mine that style-wise will remind readers the most of the writing on this blog. Nothing I ever write will be entirely without humour (it is a law of nature, I think), but this story has the potential to use the dry, not-laugh-out-loud-but-chortle-lightly sort of humour I often end up with here. Plus, I might add a zen-group (if that didn’t make any sense, I think my point has been made).

On top of this, there are maybe five or six ideas that haven’t really formed into story mode (the one that was supposed to be a prequel to my WNEiPbALNAA, but that really isn’t anymore; the one with the wooden pig; the one with the anthropologist; and not to forget the one with the married couple whose upcoming divorce I for some reason feel competent to explain). Finally, there are about sixty thousand (or so it feels) ideas that don’t really have anything tied to them yet, I just know I want to do something with them some day. These might not be more than a sentence, a character trait, or a setting (someday I will write a World War Two novel, I WILL!).

Having ideas is not the tricky part for me. Having viable ideas, though, is a whole different matter. Having viable ideas that can be turned into actual stories, stories I can convince myself to give up procrastination for so that they will actually be written, is the most difficult of all.

Anyone else ever get overwhelmed by the amount of stories wanting you to write them?

24 comments:

Rayna M. Iyer said...

Trust you to come up with all those acronyms.
And what about the book about the two giraffes? Did those giraffes wander off in the savanah?

Cruella Collett said...

How could I forget "Flinkesen og Vakresen"?!? I guess it's because it's not technically a WiP (or any other acronym) since the first book is done, and the series is somewhat stalled since I don't know what to do with it (publishing would be an idea, but we shall see).

The other day at work my coworkers and I came up with a new giraffy children's series, though, based on a drawing I made and submitted to onemilliongiraffes.com - about a Superhero Giraffe who wears green wellies... (his superhero ability is to never get wet feet...)

RosieC said...

Yes! Frequently overwhelmed. I'm constantly opening new docs and folders to outline, and then I just end up writing the whole flippin thing. This does nothing for the original WiPx3, which are sitting patiently to the side, waiting for love and attention and decent titles. So what do I do? Instead of doting on my princes and magic and destruction, oh my, I started writing a HS romance that's really annoying even to me. No one else will want to read it! What am I doing? Oh, wait, you said it. It's the art of procrastination from doing the hard work of revision. Right. Darn you for making me realize it! :)

PS--I want to see these giraffes that Rayna mentioned.

Erinn said...

I get overwhelmed by the idea of editing and revising all my WIPS. I'm very slow and I have a horrible because my spelling is so bad, so i end up using the same words over and over again. It's an awful process for me and I hate the idea of doing it over again

Cruella Collett said...

Rosie - sorry to be your guilty conscience ;) And I think I actually introduced Flinkesen and Vakresen (Cleverson and Prettyson) way back in the childhood of this blog, but I should consider doing so again. Or I should consider trying to get them published. Sigh..

Erinn - editing. Ah. It will be the end of us all one day, won't it? Actually, I kind of like part of the process of editing - it's the same feeling I get when doing the dishes. I don't like doing the dishes per se, but I like when I'm almost done, wiping the counter, looking back at a job well done... (Which reminds me, I need to do the dishes...)

welcome to my world of poetry said...

Most interesting to read, I am taking it all in what you authors have to go through should I venture outside of poetry.
Excellent post.

Yvonne.

M.J. Nicholls said...

It's always good to have a corpus/oeuvre* of unwritten work. So many "forgotten" ideas can often be our best.

I would love to read your writing some day as I'm sure it would knock me on side (left or right, I'm not sure).

* "Corpus" is how I describe works that will probably die, while "oeuvre" suggests life, and development.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Right now I feel overwhelmed with just one!
And how about WAIP? Work almost in progress?

Melody said...

Oh, yes, me too!!! I've got so many, and they're all so different. And yes, I've got that one that I've had for YEARS and it won't leave me alone! (It's YA dystopian, but I didn't even know the word 'dystopian' existed when I began it.)

Cruella Collett said...

Yvonne - I can imagine that coming up for new material for poetry is no picnic either!

Mark - yeah, I love finding back to stuff I wrote years ago. They will make great parodies some day...
And I would estimate that you would either love or sneer at the cloud thing; you would hate the Oprah book club thing (but secretly snort at the details); and you would wonder what the hing I was wasting my time on with the history-meets-trolls thing. Or so I judge you.
(I have a fair share of both corpus and oevre, I'm afraid)

Alex - that can happen too, of course, but a different kind of overwhelmement, I should imagine. And I do have some WAIPs too. I think my thesis currently falls into that category...

Melody - they can be annoying, but I wouldn't be without them!

LTM said...

Oh, GOD! You mean like right NOW???

Add to the stress that the children are home for the holiday?

But thanks for all the acronyms. You had me (almost) spraying coffee through my nose... LOVE WNEiPbITBOE.... BAH!!! :D

Jen said...

(WNEiPbALNAA) BAHAHAHA!!! You had me on the floor laughing... that was too funny!

I think I'm taking the day off, everything you just mentioned has overwhelmed me, I don't know how you do what you do. I focus on revising one story and that one is already giving me a hard time. I am finding it hard to breathe at the moment, lol.

Happy Stressed Out Monday!

Sugar said...

yay acronyms!
I have about a billion stories waiting for my time. *sigh*
I just write a lil sumpin for each..and hope I can go back and give them love later..

Jemi Fraser said...

Love your acronyms! I can only work on one at a time - although I always have some ideas floating around in my head. :) Good luck!

Cruella Collett said...

Leigh - I never quite know if I should say "sorry" or "your welcome" when people are spraying their computer screens with coffee. But since you only almost did so, I think I'll go for "your welcome" this time ;) And I can absolutely understand that having kids home from school would be one of those things that can keep us from writing (my kid is called "Thesis" and I'm ignoring him these days).

Jen - oh, no! I didn't mean to overwhelm anyone but myself! And I would like to stress that I am not really working on all of these. Sometimes none of them. So it's not an all at once kind of thing, really.

Sugar - I try to do that too. The problem is that sometimes I forget what the original idea was all about... I have documents on my hard drive entitled "The best book you'll ever write!!!" and then the actual document only has a couple of nonsensical sentences in them... (Okay, exaggerating again, but only a little)

Jemi - I used to be able to work on a million things at once, but then I got a million other things to concentrate on as well... I hope (and believe, delusional as I am) that once my thesis is finished I will have some space left in my head to concentrate on some of these projects again.

Bluestocking said...

Definitely find myself overwhelmed sometimes. Sometimes the differences between projects (length/genre) make it difficult to shift between them. Sometimes I know I have to make radical changes and I'm not ready for the mental effort they'll entail.

The notion of viable ideas is tricky. I've learned to just get them down on paper - silly or not - and let them ferment. Sometimes I'm surprised at how they evolve and the potential they have. Other times, not so much. But I think being able to evaluate your story's worth is a huge step in your process of becoming a "writer"

Best of luck, and thanks for the comment and follow on my blog. Will be lurking here more often!

Talli Roland said...

Love this post! Love acronyms - sort of!

I definitely get overwhelemed by the amount of stories clunking around in my head. It's hard to keep them all straight!

Cruella Collett said...

Blue - interestingly I'd say it would be easier to shift if the stories had different genres and/or length. I'm always worried that I will get them mixed up, or rather, that my voice changes, and I find I handle that better is the stories are radically different. It also helps writing in different languages (but my Norwegian is not happy these days, too much English is making it all misspelled and funny...)

Talli - I couldn't keep my stories in my head, I need them to go down on paper or on the computer. Many good(?) stories have been lost because I thought "I'll remember it in the morning!"...

Hart Johnson said...

So what I really want to do right now is design an acronymn award. As always, Mari, I adore how you put things... and I REALLY want you to write your troll story, though I GET not wanting to do it until you can do it right (I have my grandpa's story that will WAIT)

I seriously laughed helplessly through this whole post. Fabulous.

Cruella Collett said...

Tami - You could call it A.W.A.R.D (Acronym Worship Award Reasonably Designed).
I WILL write the troll story. Eventually. And I actually have a deadline of sorts on it. It needs to be ready by 2013, so that it can be published in 2014... (there are reasons...)

Alsø wik - I just "I Write Like"-d this post, and MWAHAHAHA - apparently William Shakespeare also ranted about his WiPs, or he made redundant acronyms. Either way - wherefore art thou blog post when thou should be play?)

Chary Johnson said...

*faints from all the acronyms*

I know what you mean though. I started with a memoir then it turned into chic lit and morphed somehow into a mystery. I have to seriously rethink what direction to take as I don't think it will turn out well. Perhaps three separate works? Not sure.

good luck Mari.

ViolaNut said...

Hrumph, Networked Blogs declined to alert me to this one this morning. :-P So I'll jump on the merry bandwagon of acronym-love, and venture the opinion that I am possibly the most WiP-encumbered of all, as I have not only written ones, but musical ones and knitting ones! At the moment, I'm taking a break from arranging "Gollum's Song" for 5 violas, which I was doing to take a break from knitting a sundress for my friends' new baby GIRL (WOOO!!! GIRL!!! ahem...), which I was doing to take a break from working on my next three blog posts, which I was doing to take a break from typing Chapter 4 of Edwin... you see where I'm going here? :-P By the way, do let me know if you need me to send more coffee (perhaps with Merethe's book next month?) in order to properly fuel ALL your WiPs of all acronymic varieties. ;-) Back to - errrm... something...

Deb and Barbara said...

You had me at WNEiPbALNAA. Wow. If you can come up with that, you can write anything, baby.

Vatche said...

Hey, Cruella!

Very intriguing and hilarious post. I have a ton of ideas myself, but I have to work on them one at a time, because I cannot handle several projects at once.

Anyway, write on and finish those stories up so they can be bestsellers! Good luck! :D

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