So. November came and went. My 2nd novel crashed and burned at around 32k words – if you follow me on Facebook, or are in my NaNoWriMo circle on G+, you already know the details. It took a wrong turn within the first 2 chapters, for example, veering away from my initial conceptual intent. Then, at nearly every opportunity, the characters & the writing veered the book away from any opportunity for plot, conflict, or in some cases for meaningful character growth/development – usually by skipping beyond the need for it. Solutions were cropping up before I’d reached the problems, nullifying whole sections of the plot. Interactions and conversations were demonstrating depths of character before I’d been able to express the flaws which the events of the book were meant to turn into that depth. And so on. Right now, I don’t even want to read that draft. I’m considering sharing it with a few trusted people (Let me know if you’re interested; you’re willing to give constructive feedback and can be trusted not to share a terrible, unedited, unfinished book around, right?), to get them to read it and tell me what they like about it, what they hate about it, and what they think I can do to improve & develop it into something that works – and then still not read it, but instead, later, write the whole thing from scratch. Probably with a plan, an outline, or some such thing prepared, first, rather than running in blind and on a very tight schedule.
The Death Noodle Glitterfairy Robot Saga book came out fine. I haven’t read that yet, either, but I know at least the first half is quite good. (The half I wrote this summer, which I did read, before beginning to write new material.) Tentatively titled Deep Noodling, I’m definitely looking for Beta Readers for that book, which I hope to have in print this Spring. I have a feeling that some of the descriptions need clarifying, and that my arguments on both sides of the Extreme-Copyright-Enforcement vs. Everything-Is-A-Remix argument could use some work, but I’m pretty sure the emotional arcs, the tone, and the world-building all turned out better than I’d hoped. Reading/writing this book made me want to read the rest of the books in the DNGR Saga… None of which exist. Yet.
If you’d like access to the Google
Docs Drive document where I copy/pasted the first draft chapter by chapter as I wrote it, let me know your Google email address so I can share it with you. I’d love to get as much feedback as possible before going to print. And this one, I think, needs a lot more work than Never Let the Right One Go did.
I also need to ‘get off my butt’ and get to work on drawing. I’m hoping to create a series of illustrations for the DNGR book, as well as a cover unlike anything I’ve attempted to date. I just need to start by figuring out how to draw a set of characters whose descriptions were, at best, still quite surreal. I mean, how can a noodle, while remaining noodly, also become skeletal? What does it mean for my protagonist to be a noodle? Is he a humanoid version of something like the FSM? Does he have hair? And Glitterfairy… I’m pretty sure she’s basically just a cloud of glitter which appears to express the silhouette of a fairy when you look through it. Except she can play musical instruments and interact physically with people and the environment. And then there’s Robot. Who is a robot, of alien design/origin, at least vaguely humanoid, capable of excellent drumming, and … metallic, I think, may have been the only physical descriptor I used?
Maybe I won’t try to draw them … but then what do I put on the cover?
I don’t know…
Anyway, after my brain broke over that 2nd novel like Batman’s spine over Bane’s knee, I’ve spent the last couple weeks recuperating. Too crazy and messed up to accomplish anything much. Playing video games, mostly – did I explain that here, before? About how I’ve been using video games this year to distract myself from thoughts of suicide and other mental/emotional danger zones? I’m still super-broken, right now.
I mean, yesterday (or the day before, or … some time this week – time/space/dates are flowing/blurring together for me, lately; was it last week?) I read someone’s brief blog post about how they’d approached publishing a book in an out-of-traditional-order way, by podcasting one set of stories before going to print with another (related) story, and were considering some third route for their next book. All stuff I’ve done, mostly stuff I’ve seen others do, even the stuff they’re thinking of as new/original, just things I naturally did in those untraditional ways from day one (over a decade ago, now) of my publishing adventure. Anyway, there was some throwaway line in the middle about how their podcasting had helped them build interest in the book before it went to print so they were able to sell 1,000 copies as soon as it was available – and characterizing that as not having been enough to consider the book’s launch a success.
So, then I spent a few hours (days?) having a slow-burn anxiety attack. At first, I didn’t even realize what was happening, or why. I just felt like dying, like being crushed, like death, like pain and acid and suffocation, and like failure and disappointment and giving up. Because, in a way which oughtn’t be so deep down, it hurts me that my highest-volume title has sold fewer than 80 copies, and that my highest-revenue title has netted me around $450, while other people sell 1,000 copies in a day of their first book and don’t consider it a success. I’ve built a profitable business out of my dozens of sales; can you imagine what I could do with hundreds, thousands, or tens of thousands of sales? And this doesn’t feel like jealousy; it feels like failure.
And I know, I know, and am handily reminded by people like Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer, that what I create is worth creating, even if there are plenty of other creators out there, and even if my work doesn’t have mass appeal or doesn’t have a broad reach. And I know that even affecting one person’s life means that my work was worth producing. And that there are (at least) a dozen people I’ve never met who have been moved enough by my work to reach out and let me know. Probably dozens. I have no way to count, not really, and certainly not right now. But there are some. There are people who have been moved by my work. Changed by it, their minds or hearts thinking differently, beating differently, even just for a little while, because of what I’ve created. I know there are people who are very happy to hang my art on their walls, and/or who are very excited to read my books. It isn’t hundreds of people. (That I know of.) It isn’t thousands of people. But I tell stories that only I could tell, in ways only I could tell them, and when I put them out into the world, they enter and alter people’s lives. And I know this. I know this.
But still, my heart aches sometimes. My heart aches to be stilled. I ache. To give up. To end.
I’m a bit broken, right now.
Perhaps I’ll be well enough to create more great work in January. To finish the DNGR book. To get back to my YA Adventure research & planning (or at least to definitively give it up). Soon enough to move forward with one or the other of the big projects I pushed back for NaNoWriMo, only to go from a little broken to completely shattered in just a few short weeks. A few more weeks, and … well? Well enough, anyway?