This is something of a follow-on to my previous post, in that I’m happy to report I did NOT have to trash half of my manuscript in progress, it just felt like it would have been.
Jaime and I watched Le Magnifique over the weekend, and for those of you who don’t know this, is a movie that’s very much a part of who I am as a person. The thing is, when I first saw it I had no clue how integral to my fabric it would become. At the time, I had no idea I’d be an author (for real) someday. I always assumed it meant a lot to me because I’m a sucker for the underdog, and I liked the duality of the main character: timid author by day, dashing hero on paper, no matter how insipid or contrived.
At one point, the author (Francois Merlin, pictured above) threatens to be finished with writing spy fiction, and is very much over his main character, who he perceives as being more desirable (literally, on paper) than he could ever hope to be in reality. To top it off, he’s very much a “pantser”, one who makes things up as he goes rather than plotting things out on paper. To be fair, when we meet him in the movie he’s written 42 spy novels and has a punishing production schedule. (This, pre-internet.)
Early in the film, after the audience sees the action in the book in progress play out, the author complains he’s behind schedule and, “I’ve only written ten pages.” THAT is how it felt to delete 1 2/3 chapters when the story I was writing wasn’t panning out as I’d hoped (and planned), but it was so much action! It had to have taken eight chapters to cram all of that in! Nope, about ten pages.
When the story was souring out, I did feel the threat of burnout coming on with the Ana Lode series and I was only about 1/3 into book two. Were they just going to be the same moves, the same conflicts, the same unresolved arc?
Once I got control of the narrative, things got better. Ana Lode does have a worthwhile story to tell, and it will be told. It may take a while to do it, but such is writing, man. If I truly feel the story has run its course, it will end. It’s easier to say that when I have other projects in development. Francois Merlin was trapped in what I call “was gonna”: He was gonna write something else, but spy novels paid the bills, and he didn’t take time to develop and pursue his passions.
I won’t get into the details at this time, but I have decided to shelve Twitter. I will say the question arose recently as to whether I was an author as a hobby, or for a living. Realistically, if you’re thinking you’ll make a living as a novelist, you might also make a living playing the lottery. I suppose if one can write novels and enjoy it like a hobby while incidentally building up financial stability doing it, that’s fantastic, and where I’m at these days.
Writing fiction (or any books, really) isn’t for everyone. There’s lots of darkness before the slightest ray of dawn. But: I have seen those rays starting to poke through the darkness. I have seen how incremental success builds up over time, and it’s been exciting to see it happen for me. Others can attest at how it’s happened for them.
I don’t make my living writing books, but I have written them just the same, and will continue to make more.
Count on it.