Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Discipline of Fun -- part II

I've been working on this Discipline of Fun thing -- that is, pursuing fun in writing, with the fun itself being as much an end as the actual finished manuscript. Well, look at it this way: if it is fun, there's more likely to be a finished manuscript, right? So the question is, how do you going about making it fun, all or at least most of the time?

That is the quest.

Amber Lough made a great suggestion:

"Jacqui Robbins gave me a great idea yesterday---have a secret notebook in which I should write a super secret novel that NO ONE will EVER read. It's fantastic to write in it because there is absolutely no pressure and my internal editor is bored."

I love this idea. For drama you can keep your secret notebook locked in some carved chest under the bed and only pull it out late at night when everyone else is sleeping. Write only by candlelight. Slip into a different mindset, a different world. How fun would that be?!

The trouble for me, though, is keeping the mental state over a period of time. I can be un-precious with a story in the early stages, but once I get into it and start to love it, then I can't help but think, "Ooh, this is my next-next novel. Ooh, I want it to be perfect." And then the fun starts to dribble down the drain, to be replaced by the dreaded perfectionism.

Which is where I'm at now: balanced precariously on the edge of fun. (Help me!) The last few days in a little spare time I dabbled with a short story I've been wanting to write, and it's been REALLY FUN. I'm writing in first person (my books are all in third), in a contemporary voice, and the subject matter is a combination of whimsy and the surreal and humor and DOOM. It's a premise that tickles me pink, with a title I adore, and on top of all that, I'm falling in love with my character. That beautiful thing is happening where the story unfurls itself effortlessly and things happen, like, out of nowhere. Like it's all really happening in a parallel dimension and someone is transmitting it to your brain? Like that.


But because of all that wonderfulness, because I'm falling in love with it, I'm starting to get precious with it. And not only that:

This *short story* is petitioning me to become a NOVEL.

A NOVEL! Ridiculous! You're a short story, darn you! BE A SHORT STORY!!!

All right, all right. FINE! I may as well admit it. This is not a short story. It needs to be a novel. Like I really need another one of those right now. *sigh* But what can I do? There's just too much potential for development in this idea, this premise, this plot, these characters, for it not to be a novel. Which means I can't write it right now. While it was a short story, I could justify spending a few days on it right now, for fun and warm-up, etc. Now that it is clearly a novel, I can't. I'm already writing one of those! So do I have to just put this away, then? In the midst of all this fun?

Can somebody please freeze time? Please? There are too many books I want to write, and I am too slow.

This post didn't turn out to be so much about the Discipline of Fun, did it? Oh well. I'm tired and I need to go to bed.

Good night!


tone almhjell said...

Ooh, another beautiful idea! Just exchange menaingful glances with it across the room, then go home to be with your current love. You'll meet again in a couple of years, and then it'll be even better,like in a cheesy rom-com. It's all right to be a serial monogamist when it comes to writing, and it's also all right to look across a room. Be pleased that your mind sparkles, even with a three month old baby demanding most of your energy. Big hug.

mel said...

I swear to you that pregnancy and lactation are MAJOR players in creativity. I was at my most prolific when I was pregnant and nursing....

....hmmmm...nah! Can't go there just for the sake of another idea *grin*.


I'm hoping NaNoWriMo will kick-start the fun-factor and help me shed my mercenary urges...Just Write Shite is my motto...

storyqueen said...

Laini-Now, I'm not saying it's okay to cheat on your novel....but, well, it is, actually. Part of the discipline of fun is just following the story where it wants to go. I mean, it's not your REAL novel or anything, it's just the secret one, the one your hiding away somewhere. So, if no one knows you are writing it, maybe you're not really writing it....get where I'm going with this? (Kind of like the tree falling when no one is there to hear it...)

So, my advice is to keep not writing it....savvy?


Jacqui said...

Oh, this is so familiar. My favorite book I'm writing is always the book I am not supposed to be writing. and yes, once I fall in love with it, then the Inner Editor says, 'Aha! My turn!'

But I agree with Shelley -- keep not writing it.

Natalie Whipple said...

Wow, I so get this. I JUST went through this! I started writing my WIP for pure fun, and it was a blast until about two weeks ago.

That's when I fell in love—when I started thinking, "Oh! I want to share this with people! I love these characters to death! This world!"

Yeah...and then suddenly it wasn't good enough. Why does that happen? It really doesn't make sense that falling in love = criticizing our work!

I battled the Editor for about two weeks, but just yesterday realized something: I LIKE to edit.

I can't edit if I write a perfect first draft...and I can't edit if I keeping freaking out and not finishing the first draft. So maybe I should write the dang book.

Weird, I know, but it worked for me. I'm having fun with a book I love. And I will have fun when it comes time to edit.

Laini Taylor said...

Shelley, hee hee hee. You're evil :-)

And for the record, I love my novel-in-progress too! It's just that I'm already at the perfectionist stage with that. The real test will not be in having fun writing something NEW--that's always fun, at least until it's not new anymore--but in making the long-suffering W.I.P. fun.

And I will.

johanna said...

YES, a time freezer! I would love that! Sometimes the projects and story ideas get so stacked up on my desk and in my brain, that I just want the world to stop so I can get caught up...even just a little bit caught up!

Andrea Eames said...

I'm in this situation too. The problem is, how do you keep your mad affair with the new idea exciting and new and stop it from becoming another tedious long-term relationship (like the one with your current book)? So far I've been attempting to do this by only working on Exciting New Novel at night, when I've finished my 'real work', so that it feels like I'm sneaking off for an illicit rendezvous.

Amber Lough said...

I haven't even had time for my secret crush novel today. :( Life (well, my sick kids) have gotten in the way.

Tomorrow. I'd say "tonight," but honestly, I'm going to CRASH once the kids are in bed.

Oooh another idea! We should have a journal we all write in (in REAL PEN) and then mail it around to each other, each of us writing a chapter. Sort of like those chain stories you do at summer camp, but in a leather-bound journal, with a fountain pen, and it will be secret from the rest of the world---for those that want to join, which is anyone, of course.

It wouldn't be publishable, but it would be fun.

Chels said...

Personally, I'm hoping Nanowrimo will whip me into shape. It's never quite as magic as I want it to be (aka, the words magically flow from my fingertips into the perfect story with no effort on my part) but it gives me some motivation to make my perfectionistic in-head editor be quiet. And it gives me an excuse to eat unhealthy amounts of chocolate. :D

Tinker said...

I love the idea of a novel hidden in an attic, in a locked chest, written by candlelight. I may have to look for lock with a key...
Maybe you could make the new one, your Top Secret novel, that you only write in the dead of night, and tell no one about - at least till the other one's done! Maybe to keep the other one fun, you could make a deal with the characters in that novel - let them know they need to get their act together and get their story straight, cross the finishline - the fate of the entire world of the characters in the other novel rests on their shoulders! Hmm, that may be more pressure than fun...
How about pretending that you found this unfinished manuscript, written by your Great Aunt (insert name of deceased ancestor), and now it's up to you to finish the story and get it published in time to save your ancestral home in Italy, that you only just found out about?
OK, I'll stop now. Obviously, the only novel I'm writing right now, is this one in your comments, hehe...
You may not be a robot :) - but with all your creative ideas, you're a virtual writing wizard (wizardess?) in my book -- cheering you on - You can do it!

Suzanne Young said...

More than freeze time,I wish I could just have a month in a cabin by myself with no people or internet. OH! The stories I'd create.

anne said...

It is sad that you find you lose the "fun" when your perfectionism slips in. Because your writing is so intricate and beautiful -- the stuff I've read, anyway, and so I LOVE your perfectionism. Perhaps you should try to honor your sense of "perfect" and then, acknowledging that THAT is just how it is/you are, you can keep/regain the fun?!?!?

just a thought.

you see, we love you just the way you are!