Ensign’s Log, Entry 2: One chapter at a time

I’ve been working on my current work-in-progress, The Astrals, for years. Probably close to be a decade, to be honest, if you count all the different drafts back to the original–and believe me, that original draft and the current one don’t have much in common. Even some of the names have changed… Shark became Sharque, and Guenhwyvar has been (mostly) shortened to Guen to make it easier on readers (and on my fingers! Try typing Guenhwyvar ten times fast.) And the race I formerly called “goddesses” became renamed “astrals”, a title I thought much more fitting.

Despite all the changes, this story remains one I very much care for, which is why I’ve put so much time into making it better, revising it with the goal of one day publishing it for the world to read. Not only does it have nostalgic memories attached–the roleplaying game my friends and I made up that inspired it, my first independent study in college which involved revising (read: rewriting) the entire manuscript…–but this story has been with me for as long as I’ve been a writer.

I had to place The Astrals on the back burner when I was working on Augment, simply because I didn’t have time to focus on another project thanks to the deadlines Augument required (as my Senior Project, I had to finish it in time or I wouldn’t be graduating…)

After I finished Augment, I hit a slump where writing didn’t really happen. I think I burned myself a bit at the end and needed a break. It happens, and I’ve learned that forcing myself to write doesn’t make me happy and tends to lead to, well, nothing that will ever be publishable.

Now though, thanks to some rest, lots of good food, and other things to focus on (hanging out with friends, gaming, work…), I’ve finally recovered. And as I continue my journey as a writer, my next goal is to finish editing The Astrals.

It hasn’t been easy to get back into the swing of writing and editing. Distractions abound. But I’m taking it one day at a time, one chapter at a time, and getting closer to my goal every day.

Do you have a story that you’ve been working on for a long time? What keeps you working on it long after you might have put a different story aside?

4 Comments

  1. I’m working on my first novel, and it’s a slow and steady progress. Also often quite sporadic. I think especially the first (or two) novels may take a really long time to finish for anyone because everything about the process is new, and you only learn novel writing by doing it. Shorter fiction doesn’t quite prepare for it.

    “I’ve learned that forcing myself to write doesn’t make me happy and tends to lead to, well, nothing that will ever be publishable.”

    This is how I feel too. Setting big word count goals quickly sets me up for a failure. But if I give myself some freedom, writing flows a lot easier.

    1. I’m glad I’m not the only one who needs that freedom instead of an enforced routine (although I do hope to fall casually into a routine once I’ve found a job and settled in.)

      Definitely The Astrals has taken longer than Augment because of its origins–the original was written a long time ago and my writing has improved a lot since then, and since the second revision a few years ago. But the current revision is becoming what I’ve wanted this book to be for a long time.

      I wish you the best of luck with your first novel! Just keep taking it one chapter at time. You’ll get there, and it’s worth the journey, all the sweat and tears and killing of darlings. I’m sure of that.

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