I started thinking about how I was going to approach my Untitled Alternate World Fantasy (UAWF) novel for November, and I realized quite clearly that I have no real idea where I'm going with it. I kept running through different approaches, ways to start the book again from a different angle, a point of view that might make everything come together and function. But then I came up against the fact that I don't have even the foggiest idea how large the whole thing is supposed to be. Part of the problem is that I'm afraid the vague notion I have for an ending would not give the proper sense of resolution. It might not be enough -- well, it would be enough for the character perhaps, but not enough for the reader. So my UAWF might constitute two books, or even a trilogy. And how the hell am I going to figure out how a second and third book works, if I can't even figure out how the first one works.
It was all to big to think about, and I could picture myself writing and rewriting those first few chapters that I've already written in an attempt to find pathway through the plot, but never finding it. This endless loop of chapters that never amounted to anything.
So, okay, fine. What other novels can I work on? There are plenty of ideas vying for interest in my head, surely I could work on one of those. But there again, I ran up against the same problem. I didn't know where I was going with them, and if I couldn't find my way into a real plot with my UAWF, then what made me think that I could possibly get a different result simply by jumping to another storyline.
It began to feel utterly pointless to even try. I will never be a published novelist, I began to think. Why, oh, why do I bother? It's all just such a waste of my time. I should just give up completely. This fatalistic feeling began to infect even my poetry and my poetry journal, which is normally a safe haven for me.
But of course I won't give up. All these feelings come and they will go. I know this feeling is only temporary, and even now it is already beginning to dissapate.
There is no such thing as a waste of time in writing. All writing is good writing, if you believe that even the crap is a necessary part of the process and practice of writing. I know this. Unfortunately, I just can't feel this right now.
I'm still not sure if I want to continue to focus on my UAWF or if I want to try out a different novel idea. If I stick with the UAWF novel, then I definitely need to sit down with a stack of notecards and map out the plot, so that I don't feel so stuck in this loop. I don't know if the novel works. I don't know if it will be any good. But I know I need to keep writing. I need to keep going whether I finally finish this novel or another. There is nothing else to do.
[Cross-posted to my website. If you feel inclined, you can comment either here or there.]