My 2017 writing life started by trying to revise a novel I had worked on for almost a decade, before deciding around March that it just wasn’t working. Plot holes kept shifting, twists I added to make the story unique only made other part of the story implausible, and I kept blending too many genres to the point where I didn’t know if the story was taking place in the past, present, or future, if it was a dystopian story or a noir or both or neither. I admit, I was making it too hard on myself, too complex, but I had lost the clear vision needed to simplify that story. I was in too deep and it just wasn’t working out. I love the characters so damn much, but I decided to stop for good (or...for now?) and pursue other projects I wanted to work on.
This led to a series of novels that I outlined, started, and after a few chapters, I stopped. Something just didn’t feel right with each, again. And like the other novel I killed, I lamented over not being able to “finish” anything for much of the year. I had finished three other novels in the past, so why was it so hard now? I could have blamed all the physical pain brought on by a back injury that left me unable to sit for longer than a few minutes at a time, and unable to sleep through the night, not to mention all the nauseating side effects of the cancer medications I’m on, but I still felt like I was failing somehow. I was breaking the big rule that Neil Gaiman spoke of, that no matter what, a writer has to FINISH something, anything, just FINISH.
So, I set the novels aside and worked with Bud Smith of Unknown Press to finish my latest poetry collection, We Are All Terminal But This Exit Is Mine. I wrote poems, revised, tweaked, revised more, and we got the book done. I’m so happy with it. And after that I finished writing another bunch of flash fiction stories and new poems that I eventually combined into one hybrid-book that I’m now starting to send around. It’s called Feral Kingdom and I’m really hoping this one finds a home soon.
While I’m proud of these accomplishments, I still felt bad about not finishing longer projects. Those partial half-starts are still waiting for me, so here at the end of the year I have decided to pick one of them back up. It’s a project where I’m turning my novella “Game of Life” (from my 2015 book of short stories, What Lies In Wait) into a full-length novel. It’s slow going, but I’m making a little headway each night.
I also started a new poetry project, a book called The Midnight Dictionary, where I select all my favorite words and more and write new poetic definitions for them based on memories, experiences, visions, and images those words bring to mind whenever I think of them. (A big thank you to artist Isabella Constantino for the idea!) I won’t finish either book in 2017, but it feels good to go into 2018 with projects I KNOW I can finish. But there’s only one way to do that, and that’s to put in the hard work. Wish me luck, and I’ll do the same for you!