Sunday, December 21, 2008

Surely You Can Answer This One Simple Question?


Having just finished editing one of my short stories so as to make it more publishable, I sit here in front of my notebook, thinking about what I should work on next.

Problem: The more I thing about it, the more indecisive I become. How bad did this indecisiveness become?

At one point, I copied all of my long short stories to a floppy yes, I still use a floppy with the intent of rewriting them into chapbook form. Then I decided that I wanted to create a novel featuring those stories, plus a few interconnecting stories written in the second person (e.g.: You're driving down the road...). So I copied those already written stories too. Then I decided on doing something else, so I deleted all I copied to the disk. All of this within the span of four minutes.

In any event, I decided that this small view of a writer blowing his mind out would make a good topic to write about.

Without further ado, a few points that one's very own Thought Police can pounce on to prevent you from intelligently answering this question: "Shall I write, or shall I edit?"

Note: I previously touched on this topic from another viewpoint this past November.

1) Writing a new story, or editing an old one: I actually started writing a new short story about week or so ago, in a different type of genre that what I usually write in (semi-hardcore romance, for lack of a better description). Got only about two pages done before become stuck. I have a basic idea on where I want to go, but don't know how to get there yet. So I then I thought about taking one of my old short stories and working on that, which was the reasoning behind copying the stories to a floppy.

2) Editing an old story or continuing to work on a novel: Another quandary that one can find themselves in (which I did earlier this summer) is to choose between editing a story or work on a novel. During the fall of '07/spring '08, while I was trying to (unsuccessfully as turned out) land an agent, I decided to covert one of my short stories, A Betrayal of Vows, into a full length novel. In keeping with the theme of the original story, I wrote two distinctive plot lines. I wrote until I came to a point where I needed to go back to the original story. Yup, you guessed it, I went back and spent the next two months editing the original story.

3) Working on your second novel or working on your third novel: I actually started a second novel around the spring of '07. I gathered up all of my short stories and wrote about half dozen interconnecting stories as well. The idea was to slowly immerse the reader into the stories until they actually became part of the story (sort of like a Twilight Zone). I was doing pretty good until I got about thirty pages into the story, then stopped. The problem? I wrote myself into a corner and had no way to get out of it (still don't one year later). Solution? Yup, started a third novel. Summer of '07, I started converting a short story into a novel. Wrote about ten chapters before coming to a stop. Why? See #2.

To sum it up, this is the dilemma I'm facing. I have the following six options to work on, all of which are good choices.

A. Write a new story.
B. Edit an old story as a stand alone entity.
C. Edit an old story as part of larger novel.
D. Work on second novel.
E. Work on third novel.
F. Is something that I'm thinking about doing sometime in the new year, which would require creating a third blog.

So many things to choose from, all of which are causing my current state of indecisiveness.

My question to all of my regular commenters out there is this: out of options A-E, what would you choose to do?

And to all of my regular readers who enjoy reading my blog but haven't commented yet, what option would you choose? I would love to hear from you about this as well.

Update: I wound up doing C (editing an old story as part of a larger novel) and D (working on the second novel) during the past few days. It was simply amazing on how all the words start flowing again, once I began my re-write. I would like to think that it was do to the influence of the other wonderful blogs I follow on a daily basis. Many thanks for your kind words and good advice.


  1. I would go with B. I'm writing a novel and have several short stories and rough drafts laying around. When I hit a dead end, I pull something that's been sitting around for months or even years and wham!, there's a gem waiting to be polished... Hemingway always said he would stop writing in the evening when he was still going strong and then wake up to a well that was still full.

  2. I think I would work on second novel and try to complete & edit it. Then when you're pitching it to agents, work on the smaller stories/articles while waiting for responses. That way, you're trying different avenues for publication. Best wishes & happy writing!

  3. David: Interesting point of view there. I printed out one of my short stories last week with the intent of trying to make it workable. I wrote myself into a corner after about 36 pages, and after spending about a month or so trying to write myself out of it, I temporarily gave up on it and put it aside.

    Jonne: There is something very much to that point as well. Completing the second novel would tie into point C as well as point D. It would be a challenge, and I'm very much up to a challenge.

  4. You certainly have a lot going on and I fully understand the dilemma.

    I really like Joanne's idea.

    I think I would wait on the 3rd novel too.

    And I myself, have only one blog and though I know people have more than one I am not exactl ysure whey they do. To me it would seem pretty confusing and hard for readers to keep up with, whereas one blog can be used for all purposes. One seems so much simpler.

    I do like writing new stuff, tho. Maybe write your new stuff on your blog?

    Good luck and congrats for having so much on the go.

  5. well, advice is probably meaningless under these circustances but the first thing I'd do is "NOT" start another blog. I'd probably start out by saying, under whatever circumstances, I'm first going to finish one of those short stories. Then play it by ear after that.

  6. Interesting point. The third novel actually took the place of the second novel, because I wrote myself into a corner in one of the stories I wanted to use.

    So what I did in October of '07 was start expanding out my short story "A Betrayal of Vows".

    However, to go back and work on the second novel would involve option C.

    I am basically limiting myself to one blog, as the other blog will be for books that I self-publish, and other assorted odds and ends.

    Option F might be a possibility in the coming year.

  7. Advice is never meaningless under these circumstances. As a matter of fact, I listen to all reasonable viewpoints.

    I definitely won't be starting another blog. I got my hands full on doing this one and trying to maintain everything else going on in my life.

  8. Do A based around C. Or just go straight to E but do not collect $200. Or however much you get in the US version of Monopoly...

  9. I'm going to a 2nd blog at some point with all my writing exercises in them - what I tend to do is have a lot of fall back stories and ideas in a folder, and now I have to work on them properly. Mind you, I don't find writing a discipline. I'm not a particularly set aside 8 hours and write person, I just write as I feel necessary. Structuring it really fails for me...I just love (A) as an option, I love creating!

  10. Vodka Mom: B would work (has worked already). Drawback to B is that very few publishers do short stories that total about 16,000 words (give or take). I have given serious consideration of dropping down to chapbooks and traveling that path for a while, as I have enough stories lined up to keep me busy for a few years.

    Sy: Hmmm...A based around C and go directly to E. Well, C and E tie in together quite nicely, and A would compliment as well. However, collecting $200 for going to jail would definitely be the kicker, so long as you throw in New York Avenure or Ventnor Avenue as well.

    Miles: I actually thought about doing a 2nd blog (although very briefly) before discarding that idea as too impractical (at least for me). Personally, I don't structure it as well, beyond setting part of the day aside for writing, which I plan on doing once we get out of the holiday season.

    The main hang up is deciding what to concentrate on, thus the reason for the post.

  11. Have any plans settled for you yet? I sometimes find when I am in a quandary, zam, out of the blee I'll start seeing things in a flash of clarity. Any flashes for you yet?

    And I see about novel number 2, any chance of taking your favorite bits of that one and making it into a long short story or a novella? Just a thought.

  12. No, no flashes of clarity yet, although I am leaning towards working on novel #3.

    You're not too far off base with novel #2. I have given some serious thought about taking my short stories and trying to make them stand alones (I already got one polished up which I posted here earlier in the year).

    The only small bump in regards to that, is that my third novel is actually based on that short story I polished up. I've toyed with the idea of doing both a short version (chapbook/novella) and long version (novel) each of my stories.

  13. As I have only just stumbled onto this blog from blogcatalog, I may be impertinent in offering comment.

    BUT, that has never stopped me, so here goes.

    I have used one blog per novel or story series over the last 2-3 years, and one central 'library' blog that links to all the others.
    I use the latter to update any changes.

    I am evermore sure that blogging has become so popular and widespread and, also, full of marginal at best ramblings (OK, utter crap) that another format needs to be explored to get ones work noticed in the first place.

    I have used the issuu format for the past year, posted onto a blog for ease of access. However, I reckon I shall have to enter the dreaded world of setting up my own website.

    At the age of 54 years I really don't fancy wasting all the creative time on learning technology, but writing the stuff.

    I hope that this helps.

    Seasonal greetings from Staffordshire, England.


  14. Dave: I thank you for both your comments and the nice review you left about my blog.

    I took the liberty of checking out your multiple story blogs, and I must say, I am very impressed with all them.

    I'm curious, I know that you have a centralized blog that acts as a clearing house for the rest of them, but do you have one about yourself? You seem like an incredibly fascinating individual, and it sounds like it would be interesting to get to you a little bit more.

  15. Why, thankyou!

    Having had a small public profile as a medico-legal psychiatrist in NW England for some 8 years I have always kept a very low personal profile.

    Now I am fully retired I may, just, come out of the closet a bit more in 2009. And NO, not that closet.



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