Biting Off More Than You Can Chew

Before I begin, a relevant flashback: Years ago, when I was trying to write a novel and things weren’t going smoothly, I tried to sum up my creative process in the hopes that it would indicate (what the hell) was going wrong. I imagined the story in my mind as though I was watching a scene from a film, then I would write it down, keeping descriptions at a minimum while focusing on dialogue and sequence of events. It seemed that even if I wasn’t actually writing in screenplay format, I was writing a screenplay all the same. I thought, you’re not a novelist, you’re a screenwriter. Stop rebelling, damnit.

Flash forward: Yet I also have a habit of directing the dialogue and the characters – every sigh, frown, chuckle, and gesture – which you’re not supposed to do, since that steps on the toes of the actors and director. Then I think, this is too specific for a screenplay. You might as well write a book. Try expanding the descriptions. Which brings us right back to the beginning, wherein I feel like I’m writing a novelized screenplay. Well, I’m battling it out.

Despite all that I find myself writing a kind of novella as we speak. It happened before I noticed what was going on. I started by writing a fragment or two – short pieces in different styles which were supposed to echo each other. Nothing grand, no master plan, only a few sketches for practice, but soon it seemed that they were a bit larger than that, a short story or two, or even three.

It’s very odd because I don’t like the short story format – writing it, that is – because it seems too long and too short at the same time. So it’s typical that I’ve gone further than that and if I develop things properly, I’ll end up with a cute little novella. The difficulties of making descriptions interesting and a distinct narrative voice are trying, but I feel like I have to do it, to push my creative limits.

Another relevant flashback: On April 13th, I received an email from a fellow blogger (I’m leaving out his name to protect his identity) with an interesting blog that included book reviews, author interviews, and book competitions. He told me he was turning his blog into a full-fledged online magazine and wanted to know if I’d be interested in being a regular contributor. To be honest, I freaked out – but just the tiniest bit.

What?? Me? But... I’ll have no time! And... my own blog! And... what can I write about? And... pressure! And I don’t want to commit only to disappoint. And and and – then I calmed down. I said, alright, this is simply the next step. Go ahead and take it. But you’ll need to keep coming up with ideas! I can do that. And you’ll need to be informative! I can do that too. You’ll need to be entertaining! I can at least try, can’t I? Okay, fine.

Flash forward to... now, actually. I feel good about joining The View and I’m glad to contribute what I can. It’s good to be where creativity, experience, and helpfulness are in healthy circulation. So even though sometimes I have the slightest inkling I may have bitten off more than I can chew, trying to keep up with everything online and continue my other projects, it’s definitely worth it.

11 comments:

Mike French said...

A great from the heart piece Stella - and we love having you at the core of The View From Here.

And a novella? Sounds like you are discovering your style and voice. Please,please please can I read it when it's finished? :-)

the Amateur Book Blogger said...

It's so good to share the writing experience we all seem to struggle with - the writing, the self-doubts and the affirmation, it IS worth it. (And you ARE funny :-)

Stella said...

Mike - Couldn't help it. I got sentimental all of a sudden :) And yes, I'd welcome your feedback! I should warn you, though, I'm pretty far from the feedback stage...

Jen - funny as in "ha ha" or as in "weird"? ;)

kathleenmaher said...

Stella, a novella? Will you show it to me, too? You already know my experience. Except for here, where I keep to a strict word count, whatever I write turns into a novella. It's true everything needs rewriting, but I'd be shocked if the rewriting cut it to short story length or steered it into novel territory. Shocked.

LISA HOLDREN said...

It can all be such a panic until the words start to get down on the page. Sometimes drama is what it is all about...getting ourselves going, pushing things away to make room to get at what's really good.

Such a go-to post...fun to read. My friends tell me to write like the wind. I'll pass it forward.

Stella said...

Kathleen - sure! I'll send it when it's feedback time (and then I'll go hide under my bed). I don't think I can cut it down to a short story - there's too much, and I don't think it can turn out novel-length since that's too long. I think I'll end up with 120, maybe 150 pages. We'll see. In the mean time, I haven't been able to go near it for a few weeks...

Lisa - "write like the wind" - I like it. :)

Paul said...

This strikes a chord, Stella. I've tried flipping backwards and forwards from scripting to narrative in the past, to see what works best, and sometimes to make the most of what each medium offers, particularly with regards to capturing the visual. The same goes for alternating from first person to third, to see how the viewpoints change the writing. Sometimes I feel in control of this process, but often it's doubt and inability to move forward that directs this.

I'm delighted to hear that you're getting closer to revealing and sharing your fiction, Stella. Will look forward to it very much.

As for the doubts about contributing to TVFH: snap!

Stella said...

Paul - I forgot about switiching between first and third. What a headache... And don't snap, I got over my freak out :)

Paul said...

I can get a bit snappy at times! :-))

kathleenmaher said...

Mike, you once referred to how "stroppy" people get. Is stroppy like snappish? Gotta know the lingo.

Mike French said...

stroppy as in bad tempered and awkward to deal with :-)