It’s been a week since I got the news about my break-in success. Wish I could be more specific about it. Still enjoying the rush of the win. But I’m already feeling some anxiety about the next, most obvious goal: completing a 100,000 word novel in time for the Lincoln City workshops with Kris Rusch and Dean Smith. I’ve got until the end of January to have the novel complete, while a 50-page sample and proposal of same is due two weeks before that. On my spreadsheet it says that I owe 1,200 words a day — every day — starting next Sunday and not stopping until February 1, 2009.
The flake in me says it’s madness. Even if I do 450 words before work, 200 words at lunch, and 450 words after work, this leaves almost no time for Goofing Off. And I dearly love to Goof Off. The freedom to Goof Off is perhaps the most precious freedom of all, to me. I hate deadlines and structure and being on a schedule, especially when it comes to doing Creative Activity. And especially since my last bona fide novel project royally crashed and burned at 100,000 words, what makes me think it’s going to be any different this time? At least with shorter material, when it goes bad, you can usually at least get to the end, say, “Frak it,” and move on to the next piece without feeling too bad about the time you’ve invested.
Not so with a novel. That’s a considerable investment, both in time and in creative capital. I screw that up — again — and it’s gonna feel ten times as shitty as it feels if I screw up a short story. I’m going to have to work very hard to resist the Internal Critic who will doubtless, by 25,000 words, be screaming loudly about how the book is a bust, it’s all wrong, the whole thing is a joke, avert your eyes and turn away, and so forth. Otherwise I am going to throw in the towel, and won’t have anything to show in Lincoln City, and that’s just not an option right now.
I think part of my problem is that I’m kind of skullfrakked about what it is I want to actually write. I don’t have any illusions about writing The Great Science Fiction or Fantasy Novel. It’s 99% likely that this novel will be practice only — because virtually all first novels are. I console myself with the knowledge that maybe because I’ve begun — but not finished — about for or five novels in my lifetime, maybe some of the lessons I learned on those abortive attempts will finally percolate to the top and help me make this one not only finishable, but sellable too.
In the longer scheme, I actually want to have two novels done by this time next year. Getting one wrapped before February leaves me most of next year to work on the second one, so maybe if I relax and just tell myself that this first one is a warmup exercise for the second one, I can stop psyching myself out, get a plan put together, and get cracking next week?