Thursday, December 2, 2010

Writer's Constipation

I've been constipated and my WIP has suffered. Partly because it is the end of the semester and I've got senior capstone papers to grade. Partly because I've been handling legal stuff for my folks. Mostly because the knowledge that I'm back on sub has my stomach all tied up in knots. It's been over 2 years since I've been on sub. But it feels completely different now. Not only because I have a new agent, who is amazing!, but also because I feel like it's a new book - a brand new shiny book with that brand new shiny smell. It's been 2 years with a major change in POV, major shift in story, major increase in magical elements. It even has a brand new name! It just ain't the same book. It's so much better. And I'm so grateful to my agent because he worked so hard with me to make it so good.

But now I have to unclog myself and get back to my WIP. Writer's constipation is different from writer's block. When you're blocked nothing comes out. With constipation you sit at your laptop and push and push and work really hard too eke out a few words that are utter crap and you are left completely unsatisfied. So since I was constipated, I worked on a short story. For the first time in years. And it was a really fun exercise. Turns out I'm not constipated all the time. Just only with this particular WIP.

So I'd been thinking about why it was and I realized something. It was because I was working on something completely different. Something I hadn't seen in any other published book out there. No one's done it. It's the kind of thing that people might scoff at. Asian steampunk. How ridiculous! Steampunk is only Victorian! I'm constipated because I'm worried that I'm doing something really different that no one will like. And then it hit me. I'm working on something very different, very original. Never been done before. And the story is really good, damn it! What the hell am I worried about?

Well, the truth is, I can't not worry. That's just part of who I am. But I love this new story. It's really fun, really cool - and it's got leather kimonos! It's the first time a story made me want to be a fashion designer. So I need to push past the constipation and get back to work. It's 2/3rds done but the hard part, revising, is yet to come.

I think I need more motivation - or some ass kicking.

I will gladly accept both.


Jenn Reese said...

I didn't know you were on submission -- AIYEE!!! Commencing with finger crossing and sacrifices to all submission gods!

I'm not a steampunk fan in general, but Asian steampunk? Sign me up!

Jennifer Ambrose said...

1. Fingers crossed for you while you're on sub!!! Very exciting. You inspire me. I'm undergoing a major revision with my WIP and I love hearing how happy you are with yours in its new incarnation.

2. Asian steampunk!! Sounds awesome. And reminded me of this great article Terri Windling posted recently about Native American steampunk. Here's the link to the blog post at Beyond Victoriana:

And Terri's blog:

3. Leather kimonos = genius.

jjdebenedictis said...

Asian steampunk sounds amazing. I'd buy it, so don't you fret.

You are no chicken; you are an eagle!

Kiara Golding said...

Well done for going back on submission! I know it's hard working and reworking to try and get it just right, but it'll all be worth it in the end.

You're right about writer's constipation, I've been there too many times to even count. It's hard when you feel like all you're writing is utter rubbish. When struggling through simply won't work, it's good to take a small break. Read. Have a shower. Dance. Something small to distract you and give you a fresh perspective when you finally sit back down to work.

Writing a short story sounds like a great idea. If it's original and entertaining, go for it! There's nothing wrong with Asian steampunk - you could even say your pushing through literary boundaries. Going boldly where no writer has gone before. I love it.

You'll find the motivation. Even if it is only through the thought of leather kimonos.

Mary Witzl said...

Fingers crossed for you. I've had a lot of trouble towards the end of my current MS and if it's not flowing, it's just not flowing. And that's not a good feeling.

I like the idea of Asian steampunk. I can picture well-oiled Taisho era machines and chugging locomotives steaming past mountain hamlets. Leather aprons over denim kimono, I'm thinking, though. Because regular kimono are a pain enough to get clean.

Charles Gramlich said...

I often find that switching to a different writing task unsticks me, and then sometimes that carries back to the original problem wip.

Nandini said...

Consider your ass kicked! Get in there and push those words out! Don't forget to breathe.

OK, I'll stop now :).

I know it's hard to write when you're on submission. But it helps the pangs of waiting to get madly into a new story, at least in my experience. Your new steampunk book sounds fabulous!!!

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