Wednesday, August 13, 2008

What are you working on?

I'm working on figuring out what to work on. I'm stuck. It's not the first or probably the last time. But stuck I am.

So, last month, I participated in that dynamite flash marathon and got a handful of new work out. I felt launched, oiled. But then I skipped a beat and lost it like a pebble falling to the bottom of a well.

I have to cut myself some slack because I just started a new job in June, and I'm going through this huge learning curve. But if I wrote as much as I thought about writing, I'd have a series of novels done by now.

I feel discouraged because I've fallen into self-doubt. I'm losing the reason behind writing. A part of me really wants my novels to be published, but I have to tell myself that the goal of publication is not a good motivator. It's quite the opposite.

For example, I have a plot outlined for the current YA novel I'm writing. I'm having some problems, but the story is solid. The book is already written somewhere just under the surface of my skin, and it's beautiful. But here's the problem. The book is about a teen girl who moves to Monroe, Washington with her flaky mother. She's lost, she's lonely, and she hates it here. Then something paranormal happens and her life clicks into place. Then, last week, I finally got around to reading Twilight, that first book in the blockbuster hit YA series. It's about a teen girl who moves to Forks, Washington to give her flaky mother some distance. She's lost, she's lonely, and she hates it here. Then something paranormal happens, and her life clicks into place. Argh!!!!!!!!!!!! Okay, there are no vampires or werewolves in my story. But, geeze! Can't you already hear the agents and editors? We don't need another book about a teen girl who moves to Washington, has a flaky mother and is lost, lonely...well, you get it. Where else could I place it, given the great first sentence I've come up with? It was a dark and stormy night. Just kidding.

Then there's the hybrid memoir I've started, written about 30,000 words of and have just realized that the place I thought was a crack in the story is just there to let a little light in. Should I work on that? Again? It feels so self-indulgent. But I like the idea of lacing memoir with pure fiction and playing with ways we try to cast ourselves in the best possible light. Memoir is just begging to be messed with. Memoirs remind me of something my mom used to say, that you can't hit yourself hard enough to really hurt yourself. That whole notion that a protagonist needs to be liked and sympathized with pisses me off. I want to exploit it and write a memoir that has the fantasy, the lies we tell ourselves and shows what I hide when I dress for a party.

Then there's my draft of a book about five lesbians friends who are suddenly all single for the first time in their group relationship. I want to tinker with the ways friendships are so fluid and how the ground can so violently shift when women enter times of change. I have plots worked out for three of the five, and the other two are whispering to me daily, wanting equal time. Do I write, though? Noperoonie.

So, so sum it up, with all this going on, I'm working on learning how to administer an IBM cluster, running SuSE Linux and DB2 in an Enterprise Data Warehouse. I'm learning how to manage Samba mounts and how to format and partition disk arrays. And I'm on the 3rd book of Stephanie Meyers's vampire/werewolf series.

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