If you watch my Twitter feed, or if you happened to visit the blog when I made the tweet and therefore saw it highlighted over there in the sidebar, you will remember this:
I really wasted my time today. I should have gotten started on Grand Champ, but I have my usual pre-writing jitters.
One of the things that continues to dog me (no pun intended) is my tendency to freeze up right at the start of a new project. It’s not that I’m unprepared, as I’ve done my research, written my outline and have all the tools necessary to deliver the prose. The problem is that when I’m not eyeball-deep in the writing itself, I have ample time to “what if?” myself to death. What if the story isn’t good enough? What if I can’t pull off these scenes? What if I spend all this time writing the thing and no one wants it? That sort of thing.
The answer, as with most things that give me pause or paralyze me during the writing process, is to just do it. I hem and haw and drag my heels all day, every day, even when I’m well into a manuscript, putting off the act of writing until I absolutely have to do it. It’s just part of who am I, for good or ill. Similarly I have these bouts of jitters that apparently I just have to roll with. Inevitably I do get over them, and I do it by starting the necessary writing whether I’m absolutely ready or not.
I suspect that part of the problem this time around is that I’m stepping out beyond the comfortable niche I’ve carved for myself over the past couple of years. I’ve talked about it many times before, so you know the niche I’m referring to now: the Mexico pigeonhole. I haven’t written about anything but Mexico for a long, long while (I consider three years a long time) and this book is most definitely not about Mexico. At all.
There’s also the very real question of whether this book will fly with anyone. I originally had the idea for Grand Champ a couple of years back before Mexico swallowed me whole. At the time my agent gave a thumbs down to the concept because to her mind it’s easier to get people to read about human beings dying than it is to read about animal cruelty/death. That concern has been weighing heavily on my mind even as I prepare to go ahead with the project anyway.
Once again, however, the answer is just to write it. At my usual pace I never spend more than a couple of months writing a novel-length manuscript, so it’s not like a huge chunk of my life is going to be given over to this thing. I’m not Thomas Harris, who takes ten years (or more) to produce a single book. Of course, I’d gladly trade my productivity for Harris’ sales. I’m greedy that way.
Anyway, the longer I spend writing this blog entry, the less time I have today to write fiction. I suppose I had better get to it.