“Finish what you’re writing. Whatever you have to do to finish it, finish it. You will learn more from a glorious failure than you ever will from something you never finished.” -Neil Gaimen
Sometimes we all fall off the project wagon; or at least I like to think we all do. Between getting over an illness, starting a new job, the stress of trying to pull off an important trip with my mother this fall, and honestly, my own laziness and procrastination, I’ve definitely fallen behind on my writing (and this blog!). Also, for me, I have the sometimes terrible habit of getting so lost in the writing of other people, that I don’t emerge until days or weeks later. When I finally get my nose out of whatever series of books I’ve been reading, I’m stunned to find that two or three weeks have passed and I haven’t gotten any literary work of my own done! In this case, I spent days on end barreling through Fred Hayes’ always clever and extremely amusing series about Fred, the Vampire Accountant. If you want a fun, easy read that will lighten your spirits, this is definitely one I recommend.
I’d read the first book (The Utterly Uninteresting & Unadventurous Tales of Fred, The Vampire Accountant) a year back and really liked it, so when I was looking for something entertaining a few weeks ago I downloaded the second one.
Of course, I didn’t plan on getting so into it that I’d end up reading all five books in the series without stopping, but alas, I should have known known better.
Stephen King says “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” While I certainly agree with that statement – afterall, how do you know what good literature feels like if you’ve never experienced it? On the flipside, reading through some badly written works gives you at least some basic ideas of what to avoid in your own writing. Yes, all varieties of art are subjective to an extent, but there are certain books that most people seem to enjoy, and others that are hard for nearly anyone to get through. But I digress.
The point is, if I were going to spend so much time reading, I should have at least spent some of that time reading things that counted as research for some of the story ideas I’ve had floating around. I also obviously should have been working to finish my first book, Tau Ceti, since I had planned on releasing it this fall and still have not only some chapters left to write, but some editing and a few minor rewrites to do thanks to the suggestions given me by my writing group. Although I truly believe that you have to tell your stories your own way, I also definitely appreciate constructive criticism and feel that if two or more people agree on an editorial point or feel that something in a story just doesn’t work, I owe it to them to listen and at least take it under advisement.
Speaking of, I’m currently staring at the pile of notes from said group on the last four chapters of Tau Ceti that I sent them a month ago, and feeling extremely guilty that I let things go this long without making the needed adjustments. That said, I know that getting back on track right now is going to be a lot more valuable use of my time than wallowing in my guilt for another day. I have a bad habit at times of letting myself feel so badly about a mistake that I dwell on it and let it paralyze me. As time goes on and I realize I still haven’t done anything to correct my mistake and move forward, I feel even worse about it and eventually can’t imagine how I’ll dig myself out of the mess and “catch up,” get to where I know I would have been had I not screwed up, etc. It becomes a vicious cycle and I instead allow myself to get stuck in the past. Or at least, I used to. I’ve really been working hard to get over this character flaw and remind myself that no one can change the past or “make up” for wasted time. All we can do is buckle down, learn from our mistakes, and do better in the future. Cliche as it sounds, “if at first you don’t succeed, try and try again” is a pretty great motto to live by when something (or someone) is important to you and your future…