Three years ago I started this blog with the help of some very dear friends of mine, all with the goal of promoting a book I was writing, one that I was certain I’d be finished with by December of 2014.
If you listen, you can hear someone laughing.
A few months back, I said that book was finally finished, though that was only after making the same claim some five or six times since this blog was started. Perhaps the impact of that promised had been a little bit dulled. A lot has happened to me since then. I’ve learned how to write better, actually have a job as a critic for scripts, enjoyed a brief stint writing op-ed pieces on films I loved and loathed, and have several projects I’m just dying to jump into. I’ve also come to a very painful realization, one that has resulted in one of the most agonizing decisions I’ve made thus far.
I can’t write my book.
I don’t mean it will never be written. I’ve put too much time and passion into this world and its characters to ever let it die. But this has been a very saddening journey for me, working through multiple drafts and edits, and still being able to tell that some special magic was missing from my work. After that initial satisfying elation after an edit, it went back to the way it was before. It just wasn’t enough.
Eventually what I realized was the writing style wasn’t the problem, but the draft itself. My draft has many fundamental narrative flaws in it, from an annoying comic relief to an endless series of contrivances, and a needlessly convoluted series of events that bring my characters together. I’ve read enough scripts and written enough reviews to recognize these problems with my own work. The feelings I had for the story remained just that. They were always feelings and never words.
I’d also put myself in quite a bind. The entire book is told from the lead character’s perspective, but the world was so big and the story so vast that I couldn’t tell the whole thing without thinking up some very silly reasons as to why my hero would be there, (or how he’d fit given he’s over 100 feet tall. Bound to one perspective, I never could explore the world, or how the other characters viewed my hero. My stubborn refusal to give up that perspective might have been this draft’s downfall.
How many times had I edited this draft? Not sure, but the number is probably high. Did it improve the draft? Sure. Some of the writing was a lot of fun, and exactly the thing I’d like to see in a book of this genre. However, those were just little bits that shined in a story that was otherwise pretty dull. No matter how much impromptu surgery I performed and no matter how many paragraphs I stapled on, it would never come to life because I was stapling those things onto a corpse.
Wow. This blog post already has much better writing than my book.
The draft has surely improved since I started it. It now has a beginning, a middle and an end, a clear goal for the good guys, and some nice character arcs amongst the cast. To say it hasn’t come a long way since 2012 would be false. But is it good enough? I don’t think so. So, as of this week, I’ve made the painful decision to put the book down.
Not forever. Just for now.
I’ll never be a perfect writer, but there’s still a lot for me to learn before I’m ready to tell the big fantasy epic I want to tell. It was like trying to drive a cruise ship without learning how to operate the paddle wheeler first. This story will be told, but there’s a lot more to learn before I’m ready. With a story this complicated with a world so intricate, I think it’s best that I take the time to hone my skills on other projects.
Fortunately there’s much to do. I’ve got a werewolf themed thriller that could benefit from some attention. I had the privilege of contacting my writing partner last night where we had a rather exciting meeting about the story, and it left me invigorated and hopeful. There are also plenty of short stories and other subjects that could be refurbished and sent out. I’m working on a short story right now that I aim to send out to some magazines.
Never Heroes will never be put down forever, but I will finally say this. I don’t know when it will get done. It could be next year, next decade, or it could be finished on my deathbed. Maybe I won’t finish it and will pass my materials onto a more capable person, but where’s the fun in that?
This choice was painful, but I also think it was right. Now was the right time to begin the story, but not the right time to end it. In time the ideas will come, a clearer picture will emerge, and the story I want to tell will finally take shape. Until then, all my favorite characters should take a well deserved rest. We’ve all earned it.
I’ll be back soon with updates on my current projects, including a brand new short story. Hope to see you all then. Take care.