Friday, May 20, 2016

Learning The Long Way Around

So, here's a thing to know about me: I'm not a quitter.

This is good sometimes. I've got a college degree that required three passes at Calculus 1 to get (but I finally finished that useless, completely unhelpful goddamn requirement), I've got looots of martial arts experience despite numerous lacerations, severed tendons and broken bones over the years, I stuck out two years in the Peace Corps in Togo (admittedly, with a couple of getaways) and, oh yeah, I've written some things as well. I firmly believe that persistence is key to accomplishing a lot in life.

Sometimes, though, I screw myself over by not knowing when to quit. Like when I keep backpacking even though I've got that telltale pinch in my foot, and then walk until I'm bloody. Or when I keep participating in something that's no more than rote tediousness because, well, I haven't finished it yet (Girl Scouts, oh my god. I was much better at Explorer Scouts, where I could do more outdoorsy stuff). Or, when I'm writing something and I'm not feeling it, and I'm not liking it, and I'm not having any fun but I keep on going because, well, I determined that this was the thing to be working on right now. It's on my schedule. I highlighted that bad boy. It's time to Do This Thing even though I already know I'm not going to like the way it turns out. Or, if I finally throw in the towel, I do so with a great sense of personal failure, like, "Wow, you couldn't even meet this goal. You suck, babe. Say it with me: you SUCK."

Something I recently realized about myself thanks to a friend's observation: I tend to do better when I'm writing something with humor. It doesn't have to be a comedy, but there needs to be a certain lightness to it that I can latch onto and run with. It makes the writing more enjoyable for me and, judging by reception, it makes the reading more enjoyable for whoever picks the book up. I haven't yet mastered the art of angst, or the sort of heavy, serious reads that so many authors in the genres I enjoy excel at. I do it lighter. I need the banter, the buildup, the playtime. I just do. Or, at least right now I do, because my latest story has all sorts of potential and I'm just not feeling it because it's so fucking doom and gloom. With, y'know, a happy ending, but that isn't enough. The plot needs an overhaul. The characters need more consideration. And I just need to move on to something else.

Example: if any of you have read Tempest, there's a part in the middle where things are suddenly really Not Okay for our main characters. Everything before that I wrote in three weeks (the fastest I've ever written in my life). Once I got there? I had to put the book away. For almost a year. Yeah. And then I went back to it, and it was fine, and I think it turned out pretty well!

I'm trying to get a handle on the fact that it isn't quitting to set something aside, or even scrap it entirely. It's okay. This current story doesn't have a due date; it's a thing I want to try, but I'm not there right now. Maybe I will be in a month. Maybe a year. Maybe not at all. Letting it go for now is infinitely better than pile-driving my way through a story that I'm only going to be unhappy with, though. And I kind of hate that I have to, but I'm trying to learn to be a little nicer to myself, so: "Cari. You don't suck, and you're not a failure for shelving that project. Pick something else up and run with it. It's okay."

I don't quite feel that way yet, but it's a goal, and hey, I'm not a quitter.


  1. You found a way to make a post-Apocalyptic purple plague story laugh out loud funny. Humorous is something you do well. It's totally okay to embrace the lightness!

    No beating yourself up. You are awesome at what you, keep doing it. :-)

    1. I'm trying. Tryyyying...I need more humor in my life. :)

  2. Replies
    1. Mental high five, ready? One...two...three--YES!