I haven’t been making the progress I’d hoped on some parts of my ongoing projects, and they’re beginning to back up on one another. Some projects have been put on “back burners”, indefinitely postponed, others have changed scale, scope, or purpose, and still the ones I have remaining are giving my timeline trouble.
Here’s the main problem: Research, reading, and getting ready for writing YA/middle-grades adventure books – it’s taking too long. Or, at least, taking longer than expected. Or, if not “expected”, then at least … hoped.
Well, here’s the rub: NaNoWriMo is in November. I’ve been participating for a decade now, and whenever I can, I try to line up my personal writing schedule in such a way that I’ll be working on the writing part of a project during November – in such a way that I begin writing on November 1st, or at least write at least 50k words before November ends, if at all possible. November begins in 11 days.
Back to the reading: I’m pretty sure I’ve written about it here before, but one of the things I’ve been working on is reading a lot of YA adventure books. Saturating myself in them. Studying them. Making observations and notes about what works for me, what I love, what I loathe, and what I absolutely want to avoid. Enjoying them, as much as possible, certainly, because that helps teach me what’s enjoyable about the best of them. Struggling through them, when that’s not possible, because that helps me focus on the worst elements of commercial fiction. I developed a long reading list, and I’ve been working my way through it, but I have at least two dozen more I’d like to try to get through before I actually start working on detailed plotting and planning of my own YA adventures. I can get through about one a day. One and a half, maybe even two, if they’re short and I’m having a good day. Less than half of one if it’s a bad day, or an over-long book, or one that’s a real struggle to get through.
It’ll almost certainly be mid-November (at the earliest) before I get to the end of my current (already significantly truncated) reading list. Without going into details of the project I’m working on (my initial plan was to simply re-write Dragons’ Truth as a commercial-fiction-style YA adventure, building it to support a sequel or two this time, but that’s one I’ve indefinitely postponed; what I want to accomplish with it has been growing grander than the scope of my current capabilities), I can say that the time I’ll need for preparations before beginning to write the first story may be extensive. Certainly days, possibly weeks, hopefully not months. With the nature of the multi-story arc I’ve got in mind, I’d really like to get all the background and world building done first, then detail all the plots of all the stories from the beginning to the end of the entire series, all the character arcs, the relationships, the twists and turns, adventures and stakes, climaxes and resolutions, et cetera, before putting the first word of the first book down. …and the world-building and background is getting pretty extensive, already. I may have to produce more material during “pre-production” than will end up in the entire project put together. I may have bitten off more than I can chew.
Likely scenario: I’ll keep reading for the next week or so, continue thinking about the backgrounding, and get so stressed out about the impossibility of accomplishing all I’ve set out to do (I haven’t even mentioned the part where I need to complete the entire project, from beginning to end, including editing, illustration, fundraising, and [redacted], within the next six months – so I can have at least part of it on hand to sell at Phoenix Comicon.) that I give up and try to finish all the “pre-production” work in a few days so I can start writing at or near the beginning of November. And then, despite my sincere belief that I need more preparation to do it well, the whole thing will probably work out fine, anyway.
Still, where I am right now, I’m having a hard time seeing it, feeling it, or accepting it. Right now I feel like I’m being gradually crushed under the weight of all the things I haven’t done… or at least that I haven’t been able to do within an artificial, arbitrary, external timescale. …which I’m the only one trying to fit myself, my ideas, and my plans into. I suppose this is part of a struggle within myself to accept another degree of the freedom I actually live within; that I’m free to set my own schedules, my own deadlines, and that whatever constraints I think or feel myself within, they are only the ones I’ve selected or accepted. Time. What a thing it is.
This is a reminder for myself (which I probably won’t see again after I post this): If/when I reach that point of breaking stress where I’m about to compromise my creative intent, I should consider adjusting (revising, rebuilding, extending, and flexibly recreating) my current plan/schedule for this project, even at the expense of participation in NaNoWriMo with any portion of this project. Consider also the taking of a break on the big projects for November and pantsing the whole thing.
Actually, I already have some ideas about what to do (at least at Comicon, if not for NaNoWriMo), if I can’t get this project off the ground before the end of November, so … I’ll keep thinking about it. And about what I’ve just been writing to myself about managing my own time and projects.