No Such Thing as a “Simple” Story

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I love Clocks.

Clocks is the code  name I’m using for my current work in progress. I’ve been writing/editing this novella for about seven months now, and I love it. And somehow, in a shameful little corner of my mind, I’m almost surprised by this.

Prior to starting Clocks, I had been working on the Dagger Trilogy (Again, just a code name. I’m super bad at titles, and normally don’t find real ones until the very end. I even blogged about this once, here) for close to two years. The Dagger Trilogy… wow, I can’t even begin to say how much that project owns my soul. But back in April, as much as I adored the Dagger Trilogy, I had to face the reality that I was severely burning out on it. I needed to look at it with fresh eyes, which means *shudder* I actually had to stop working on it. The horror!

But in all my expeditions of internet research, this seemed like the right path. So I needed something else to work on while I let the Dagger Trilogy settle for a little while. I decided to return to this idea I’d been kicking around since high school. Clocks started as a short story of about 10,000 words. I liked the idea, but one of my most helpful beta readers, Tara Sim, told me that she felt like it ought to be expanded so we could really meet these characters properly.

I knew that even in expanded form, I wouldn’t be able to create a full novel out of this story, but a novella seemed possible. Maybe 30,000 words. Perfect! It was exactly the kind of project I needed to refresh my mind. Something short like that couldn’t possibly take more than a couple months, right?

Well, I’m guessing you already know the answer to that one. And at first, yeah, it was frustrating. I reached two months and still didn’t have a functional first draft, and why was this taking so long!? I just wanted to finish it so I can go back to the Dagger Trilogy.

But that was before I realized that I love Clocks. Really, honestly, bring-it-flowers-and-chocolates love it! And now I feel guilty that I ever thought it was the kind of story I could just rush through and expect it to be worth reading. I put these characters through a lot in this novella. As an author, if I’m going to ask for that kind of emotional pain from my characters, then I owe them more than ‘this is just a filler project.’ I owe them as much time as they need to reach their full potential. Honestly, I owe them whatever they want to take from me: attention, energy, sanity…anything.

As soon as I realized this, Clocks finally started coming together. And many moons later, I’m still working on it, and I still love working on it.

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Because there’s no such thing as a simple story. Every time I try to write something quickly one of two things happens: I either give up, or I fall in love with it and make it my ‘one and only’ project. Don’t misunderstand, I still adore the Dagger Trilogy, and I’m still looking forward to the day I can return to it, but right now I’m working with a fantastic cast of characters, and I can’t wait to spend this glorious Saturday listening to what they have to tell me.  

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7 responses »

  1. I can relate to this. I put untold amounts of thought and energy into my novels, but often want to write a “quick” blog post. When I take the time to craft a decent post, I am far more satisfied than the quick and get it done ones. Thankfully, I usually realize I have to create the time to improve such posts before publishing. My blog readers deserve the same dedication to craft I give my novels. Thanks for sharing this!

  2. Yay for falling in love with your work! Best of luck with filling it out. 🙂

    Hehe about the simple story. I always over-complicate mine, and then have to rail it back in so people aren’t all confused.

  3. “Every time I try to write something quickly one of two things happens: I either give up, or I fall in love with it and make it my ‘one and only’ project.”

    I can relate to that, and furthermore I think it’s almost inevitable. To write a book and do it properly, investing all those hours and all that obsessiveness, you have to kind of love it. If you don’t, you probably give up – as sometimes happens.

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