The Madness of Writing Despair

The Madness of Writing Despair

I have halfway fallen in the clutches of writing despair. It’s only halfway because I have When Stars Rise that I can work on, and it’s already been halfway written anyway so all I’m really doing is editing/re-writing. But I got back to When Heaven Was Blue, and while I like the direction of the plot itself, my gut is seriously telling me that the story is missing something, but I can’t even tell what it is, and I’m supposed to be gifted in the art of knowing exactly what is wrong with my story and what I can do to fix it. I was able to do it with When Stars Die, so why can’t I do it with WHWB? I don’t know, but maybe it’s because I have very high expectations for this book and want it to surpass WSD by a longshot. image

But I got back to WHWB, and maybe it’s because I woke up exhausted due to the weather and so my brain was foggy, but when I was going through it, I felt exactly like the picture to the right. I just don’t know what is wrong with the blasted book but I always listen to my gut, so I stopped editing one-third of the way through because if I’m not satisfied, I see no point in continuing until I am satisfied.

I had a beta reader who quickly tore through the first one-third and gave me plenty of useful advice (while also positing that she loved it), so I hope that advice will sate me. But I also did something very drastic and paid an affordable editor to look at the first one-third. Beta readers are fantastic and can point out stuff, but editors can pinpoint what your gut can’t figure out, so while that one-third is out and being looked at, I’m just going to work on WSR. I think WSR really needs to be the next book that gets released because WHWB is a very heavy book in regards to mental illness, and I need to give it time to grow into the book I want it to be instead of rushing it all for the sake of releasing another book in less than a year. Even though the other half of WSR hasn’t been written yet, it’s probably more ready than WHWB simply because once I outline the rest of WSR, those will be the chapters that are getting written, and all they’ll need is a good clean-up once I have them written.

But…ugh…it’s so disheartening to outline the crap out of a book (I have half a notebook filled up with nothing by WHWB), and then you get to edits and suddenly realize something is not working, so you don’t know if you need to re-write again or just copy edit the crap out of stuff or what. Which is why I went to the editor. I am not taking applications for new beta readers because I just don’t have the time to return the favor–plus, I charge for it because if you’re asking me to beta read, you are asking me to do something that is incredibly time consuming with the idea that I’m not going to function as an editor, which is impossible for me.

My stomach was all in knots yesterday just thinking about what to do with WHWB. I have a few ideas I can incorporate, like including more of Gene’s life outside of all the super fantastical Stolentime stuff, but that’s it, and my gut tells me it’s not enough. I frankly still can’t get the dang book out of my head, even though it is with someone who will take care of it better than I currently can right now. So all I can really do right now is concentrate on WSR and hope that, hope of all hopes, I can try to get it all re-written by the time class starts on the 19th. I do think that WSR needs to be the next book, and in order for this to all pan out, WSR is going to need to be completed during this month, read over another time, and sent off to beta reader who can just highlight typos or whatever. And then sent off to publisher, probably after the release of WSD, which might be late September or early October.

But, hey, the good news is is that I have another book idea. It’s going to be a continuation of “I Am the Bell Jar,” but you don’t even need to read the short story to read the book. Great, right? I may start outlining it just so I’ll have it when I finally get to the dang book, which will probably be after the third book of the Stars trilogy called When Stars Collide. Which means I need to start outlining WSC once I have WSR done. Lots of acronyms.

I’m going crazy, as you all can tell. Now how are you and your writing/reading lives?


10 thoughts on “The Madness of Writing Despair

  1. Wow, I really feel your confusion here – just reading your post has left me out of breath! I hope you get everything sorted out with WHWB (I hope that’s the right acronym), and that your work goes well with the other stories 🙂

  2. I know exactly how you fell. I’ve been struggling to get The Demon in Him going on the right path. I think I’m headed in the right direction now, but the first 10 chapters are going to need some major revisions I think. I’ve outlined the next 10 chapters, and as I go I’m going to outline more as I go, so I’ll always know what direction I’m going.

    …and you do know that I’m completely rewriting Unbroken…completely. I’m cutting entire characters…I’m yanking it out of the YA genre…pretty much the only thing that isn’t going to change are Annette and Paul. They’ll still be there, but they’ll be like 30 years old instead of teenagers. The story is changing, the characters are changing, everything is changing. Heck the point of view might even change. I know the madness of writers despair. I do.

    Just keep swimming.

  3. Geesh! You may not want to hear this, but I am glad you posted this so that I might see that I am not the only one. (And I can also see this by some of the replies you’ve gotten too!) Too many people use the term “writer’s block” to constantly describe writing hardships. The truth is, not every snag is writer’s block. When we know something’s wrong…something’s wrong. We know it; therefore, it is not writer’s block. Don’t worry about how long it’s taking for WHWB. It took 10 years for my book, Someday Always Comes, to make it to Amazon. Then there’s other stories I’ve finished and brushed up in 6 months that I have in the slush pile. While, yes, they still need editing and refining, they could be ready to go as the story itself is complete. With Someday, I couldn’t make it right. Something was missing. And, right at the last minute…10 years later…I figured it out. I couldn’t afford a professional editor at the time, but when I release the sequel to the book, I’ll have it professionally re-edited and release a 2nd edition.

    Right now I have a series in my mind. Guess what? For the 1st book, I have like 5 opening scenes and I can’t even tell you right off how many opening lines I have. That series will be a “vampire & immortal” related series. And the characters & plots are so vast that they’ll be introduced in one book, while the book after will be their story in its entirety. The problem is, what to start with. My mind may have created a project too big for me and I end up throwing tablets and pens, and even flash drives around the room. I have no idea what to do with it. It’s so frustrating I feel like bashing something with a hammer. And it makes me sad. Yes, I have writer’s despair. Although our personal stories differ a bit, you are not alone – & neither am I. Right now I’m fretting over the sequel to Someday Always Comes, called The Devil Plays Dice Too. I’ve got one chapter done and then idea for a 3rd book popped into my head and now it won’t leave & the urge to start writing it is overwhelming. But I can’t do a lot with it, because some of it depends on the end of book 2. WTH!! I haven’t finished #2 yet. My Muse has gifted me with so many projects, too many maybe, that I feel like I’m sinking. And She just keeps dishing them out. So I take notes on the ideas. It’s both heartening, yet depressing sometimes.

    Thanks for sharing your story, Amber. Oh and by the way, we’ve been in the same writing circle for a very long time. If you ever need a fresh pair of eyes to look at some of your pages, I don’t mind. And I won’t charge you for it at all. I know what it’s like and if I didn’t have a friend or two to look at my stuff, or my mother to hash things over with…I’d be lost.

    1. The sequel to When Stars Die is actually nine years in the making. You’ve probably heard of it. It was formally called Witch Tourniquet, but I am no longer that 14-year-old girl who started out writing that book, which started out at 180,000 words. I am 23 now, and so my writing has matured tons, as well as my storytelling skills. Writing When Stars Die has definitely helped shaped When Stars Rise, so I am currently working on finishing the rest of its outline and am going to write the rest of the half. I’m feeling pretty good about it. And like you, I have ideas for When Stars Collide, its third book, but I’ve got to finish When Stars Rise first. I always knew I was going to do a third book, but I never had very many ideas of what I was going to do. I knew this person was going to be the enemy, but as for what was going to happen, I had no clue until now.

      It amazes me that some people can write the entire trilogy before even subbing the first book to an editor or agent. I never wrote the entire trilogy for the reason that an agent or editor can get it and want me to drastically change the story, and so that would definitely mean having to re-do the sequel.

      Also, I think I may have discovered what I find so wrong with WHWB, but I’m going to need to finish When Stars Rise first, lol, before getting back to it. Luckily, it’s still with an editor and hopefully will be for a tiny bit longer while I go to town with WSR.

      And I so understand the Muse thing! I wrote a short story for an anthology my publisher wants to do, and now I want to continue the MC’s story in novel-length form. I am so tempted to go out and buy a journal for the purposes of outlining this book, but I really need to finish WSR and WHWB first before even thinking about touching on this new book.

  4. I think everyone goes through things like this. I’m sure you’re already getting plenty of advice but I’ve experienced something similar and what helped was reading a book by another author in a similar genre. In my case that was enough to help pinpoint what was lacking and gave me ideas for how to address it in my own story.

    At the very least reading someone else’s work for a couple days might give you some time to recharge and allow you to look back at your writing from a new perspective.

    1. I actually did read The Fault in Our Stars to help me with the contemporary side of my contemporary fantasy, but I think what I do need to do is actually read a contemporary fantasy to see how said author makes it work, and I feel like Bridge to Terabithia (I’ve seen the movie, but watching a movie and actually reading the book are two different things entirely) is the perfect book to help out with mine. Slowly I am starting to realize what I find so wrong with WHWB, but I’m also trying to distance myself from WHWB to see what ideas the editor has before I jump to any broad conclusions myself.

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