Ever since I mailed Prophecy out, I've felt strangely at loose ends. There's no more deadlines, no more overarching goal to achieve, nothing left hanging over my head. Oh, yes, I still have to work on Game of October, and it wouldn't hurt to invest more time in that. But it's not the same.
Part of me is yelling at me, "Wake up! Do something! Don't jus sit there playing Puzzle Pirates all night! You're wasting your life!"
And another part is replying, "So what? It's my life. And it's not like my continued existence depends on these extracurricular activities I've been devoting my time to. It won't make any difference to my material well-being if I never write another piece of fiction, or draw another picture. None at all."
Three years ago, when I decided to work on a novel again, my thoughts went along these lines. "It'll take a long time for me to finish this. But if I do, then I'll have a book to show for my time. That's more than I have to show for the three years I spent playing EverQuest."
Now, here I am, with a book to show for it.
I have some good memories of the process. Parts of the book that I look back on fondly, the enthusiasm and encouragement that jordangreywolf and strangess offered. The fierce joy of making things work, of solving the problems I had in the story, one after another. Doing it.
But a lot of the process was agonzing. Forcing myself, day after day, to keep working at it. Flailing at my muse to come up with one more answer. Struggling.
Failing. Again and again.
The book was 40,000 words longer than anticipated, and 7 months overdue.
Do I really want to do that again?
I don't know. Right now ... I honestly do not know. If this is what it takes to get me to produce a book, I'm not sure I want to write another one.
On the other hand, I also don't know that this is what I need to do to produce a book. Maybe there's a less stressful way to get myself to the same goal.
Admitedly, the no-plan route hasn't done Silver Scales much good in the last year and a half. But there are many different paths. It's not the Master Plan(tm) or nothing. Another plan might get me another book, without as much angst.
Anyway, as long as I'm here, I might as well make some resolutions.
1) Write fiction for unfinishedtales more often than I did in 2004.
More unambitious than it sounds. I'm specifically not committing to working on Silver Scales, or any other particular story. I'm also not committing to X number of words, or Y entries per week. I did 24 entries in 2005, some of which were not fiction. I'll do more this year.
2) I will not let the fact that I have an audience deter me from writing what I want in unfinishedtales.
This is purely a mental block on my part. My friends have never offered me anything but encouragement for my writing, on whatever topic. But part of my mind is still going "Everyone wants to see more Silver Scales or at least more about one of the other stories you started, so you should work on those and not go haring off in some new direction."
3) I will try not to psyche myself out of doing anything remotely productive.
One of the things I noticed while making #2 above is that it's not just a matter of considering my audience. I often find myself thinking things like this: "Well, I'd like to write about A, but I really should do B first, or at least C, and I don't feel like doing B or C right now, so I may as well play Puzzle Pirates." No, really. My mind treats my creativity as a precious resource that must be hoarded for Important Projects, and cannot be wasted on whimsy. Ergo, if I don't want to do an Important Project, I shouldn't be doing anything remotely creative.
Now, maybe my brain is onto something, and if I spent more time working on my fad-of-the-moment, I'd never finish anything. Perhaps that time spent playing Puzzle Pirates instead of writing a snippet about a woman in a mental hospital is valuable recharge time, allowing me to get to work on the novel later.
But I don't really think it works this way.
So in 2005, I'm going to try to de-prioritize Important Projects. If it's creative, and I want to do it, then it's Important. I don't care if it's a story I just came up with or a book I started 10 years ago.
If it's creative, and I want to do it, then it's Important.
4) I'll keep track of the books that I read this year.
I think that I don't read as much as I used to. But I'm not sure how much or how little that is. I'm not going to resolve to read a certain number of books. But I am curious as to how much I'm reading nowadays, and what sorts of things.
5) I will lose 10 pounds this year, down to 127 lbs.
I didn't achieve the diet resolution for last year, but it was a reasonable enough goal and my weight did trend downwards, so this is good enough for me to keep it for the next year.
6) Do more sketching, and complete at least 4 pictures. (Digital or real media).
Another unambitious one -- I did more than this many finished pieces last year, and it wasn't even on my list of things to do. But I enjoyed the artwork I did last year, so I may as well put it on the list.
7) (This resolution intentionally left blank.)
8) Keep the Game of October campaign moving.
It's possible that I could finish the campaign this year, but that's a little more ambitious than I want to make a resolution out of. I've been letting the campaign mosey forward at a leisurely pace. I'd like to pick that up, but I don't yet want to make a hard-and-fast rule about it.
9) Don't give up.
I made this resolution a lot wordier in 2004, but it all boils down to this. I won't quit.