this far you may come, and no further

It’s happened again. I’m approaching the completion of a writing project (Book 1 of Above Ground), and all I can think of is how much I hate everything I’ve ever written, and want to cross it all out with a big red pen and start again.

I am under no pretences that I am special, and that this quirk is unique to me. Heck, Neil Gaiman gave an awesome pep talk during NaNo about this very writing milestone.

Not that that makes me feel any better.

It really doesn’t help that my “serious” writing – my WIP novel, The Steorra – reached the same stage early last year, and has remained on a dusty shelf ever since.

Then, reading through other author’s 2009 round-up blog posts, and seeing all the stories they’ve written and submitted and published, makes me feel that tiny bit more inadequate inside.

Now that I am approaching the end of Above Ground – an end that I dread writing – I’ve come to realize that it hardly is the true end of the story. It’s a first draft, hastily written, entirely unedited. I can’t bring myself to call it finished when it’s so unpolished, yet I can’t bring myself to edit it when I feel there are more important projects to work on, because – let’s face it – I’m not savvy enough to make my way alone as an independently published author. That, and I really want to be commercially published. Really.

But the dream, right now, seems to be just that: a dream.

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About A.M. Harte

A.M. Harte writes twisted speculative fiction, such as the post-apocalyptic Above Ground and the zombie love anthology Hungry For You. She is excellent at missing deadlines, has long forgotten what ‘free time’ means, and is utterly addicted to chocolate.
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13 Responses to this far you may come, and no further

  1. Isa says:

    I can’t bring myself to call it finished when it’s so unpolished, yet I can’t bring myself to edit it when I feel there are more important projects to work on, because – let’s face it – I’m not savvy enough to make my way alone as an independently published author.

    Reading things like this make me sad :( Because writing is supposed to be fun(!) but the industry has become so swollen with self important people that too many good writers go through psychological hell jumping through giant flaming hoops on the assumption that publishing is like a talent based survival of the fittest.

    Everyone needs a good mop now and then, but I just want to say that I think you’ve vastly underestimated your talent here. Getting people to read original fiction of any kind is not easy, it’s never been easy. What you’ve accomplished with Above Ground should encourage you because you’ve defied the convention. People actually read your work :)

    • a.m.harte says:

      too many good writers go through psychological hell jumping through giant flaming hoops on the assumption that publishing is like a talent based survival of the fittest.

      Sometimes it sure feels that way! They should make a reality TV show about writers, although it’d be pretty dull to watch people scribble and mope all day!

      And, thank you for your kind words. I’m feeling slightly more optimistic this morning. :-)

  2. Irk says:

    I’ve been at this stage with every Peacock King book. I think Char sets her watch by it. Actually, I get this about three times per book – once around the 30,000 word mark, once at the halfway point, and once near the end. I physically force myself to write past it. It is painful and it makes me cranky, but it always works. It’s one reason Write or Die Desktop Edition has saved my keister so many times – it makes me just keep typing and stop thinking so much about what a miserable story I’ve ended up with that for some reason people still want to read.

    I’ve gotten back later to projects I dropped, but they’re less fresh after they’ve been dormant so long, which is why I don’t let them linger more than two weeks anymore, even if all I do is type 200 more words of “and then she made a sandwich, and it was delicious.”

    Anyway, what you are feeling is perfectly normal. It’s like a period, but for writers of any gender.

  3. Najela says:

    I’m going through this same mood right now too. I guess the best thing to do is just keep writing. Lord knows I’ve edited one too many times for me to be a credible updating source in the web fiction world, lol. You can probably get a good beta reader/editor and get the story ready for lulu.com or smashwords. I’d definitely consider buying an edited version, I already enjoy the version that’s posted now. It’s a really interesting story and I can’t wait to see what you have next.

    Isa is right. People read your work and let you know it. Maybe you should take a small hiatus between books and work on something else. That’s what I’m doing now, I felt like I was going crazy trying to force myself to write IAR, but it’s probably writer burnout. Like having a kid or something; you love them, but sometimes they just get on your nerves. lol. (I don’t have any kids)

    Irk is right too, it’s just a phase. You take out sometime for yourself and then you come back to your kids and take care of them again and like them. You’ll always love them, but sometimes you just need a break.

    • a.m.harte says:

      I don’t have kids either but I can see what you’re saying. ;-)

      Definitely going to need a hiatus between books of some sort. Perhaps I’ll write bonus stories instead for a while.

      And I’m actually on the shop for a good (cheap!) beta / editor, so if you know any, let me know!

      • Najela says:

        I work with enough kids and parents to get that impression. =/

        For Beta Readers: I’d check on LJ, I met some good critiquers there. Merrilee gave me a website for a critique place that is specifically designed for fantasy (and all subgenres). I can’t remember the name though, but you might want to ask her. I use CritiqueCircle.com when I just need a little push in the right direction, but Merrilee says the fantasy critique place is harsh, but respectful.

  4. Fay Weldon in Letters to Alice on First Reading Jane Austen:

    “If you persist with your novel, you will find it difficult to finish…. You will go on holiday, break an arm, finish with your boyfriend, or start another affair; quarrel with your parents, burn down your flat–anything, to put off the actual finishing of the work. You may very well not even understand what you are doing.

    ” ‘But I couldn’t have wanted to break my arm,’ you’ll say.

    ” ‘Your right arm,’ I’ll say, ‘your writing arm. Funny it wasn’t your left.’ “

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