The Plunge

Sorry if you came here for advice on unclogging your drain. Go down the hall, turn left, and through the automatic doors. Plumbing is the second blog on the right.

plungerOk, whoever is left… Sorry if you came here for advice on anything. I have none today. In fact, I’m using my blog for a neurotic confessional (which is much less interesting than an erotic confessional. That’s also a different blog). Still reading? Wow, you must be some kind of a weirdo.

I’m about to take the plunge. That is, I’ve been talking about writing a novel for ages now, tossing the concept around in my head and fleshing it out with characters and major events, including the ending. I’ve done a bunch of research. I’ve got a mental image of the story (I don’t do outlines). I’m finally ready to start writing.

Writing something else I mean.

Yup, I’ve been putting this thing off for a year and was determined to get cracking any day now. Then three words randomly popped into my head. I took out my laptop, typed those three words (I risk bad juju by saying what they are) and banged out a short story, total pantser style. I planned to polish it and send it out to a magazine or fiction site, but a voice in my head kept saying “Kill! Kill! Kill!”

Luckily, I usually ignore that voice – except in the case of centipedes in the basement. But the other voice, the one I can’t ignore, said, “There’s more to this story.”

I showed the short piece to a professional writer friend. She read it and said, “There’s more to this story.”

Spontaneously, stupidly, perhaps potential-career destroyingly, I’m putting the first project on a shelf and turning this short story into a novel… without the slightest idea what is going to happen past page 14, where the short ended. The rest is a blank. I’m going full pantser this time!

Oh, I say career destroyingly because I’ve already written two manuscripts that didn’t fit a specific genre and found out how little interest agents and publishers have in such things. I told myself a few years ago that I am only  going to write one more manuscript and, if I can’t generate interest, I’m done. That’s why I came up with the dark science-fiction concept I’ve been researching and planning for the past year and a half. Play it smart, put myself in a box, and hope for the best.

But that’s not the story I’m going to write. The story I’m going to write is… I don’t know, because all I have is three characters and a concept. I’m just going with my gut.

I am so not looking forward to the agonizing pangs of self-doubt that will take over my life soon. They’re already starting. I’m already telling myself it’s a stupid idea no one will want to read about. I’m already sure it will be a plotless disaster. I’m already lining up a sledgehammer so I can smash my laptop in a supreme act of catharsis.

Dang, isn’t it fun being a writer?

********************************************

Not my most creative idea, but it fits:

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23 responses to “The Plunge

  • bluebee

    Never ever give up! Self-torture is fun 😁

  • Janna G. Noelle

    Your post title reminds me of something an old coworker once said: “In a man’s apartment, you’ll find a plunger; in a woman’s apartment, you’ll find a toilet brush.”

    Regarding your novel, I say plunge away. Forget about self-doubt, plotless disasters, and genre boxes. Think of it instead as, in your own words, the imagination free-for-all that it is. You can do little bits of mental plotting as you go along. Just stay ahead of the curve – i.e. have more in mind than you’ve written yet – and you’re making progress. Now get in there, champ! 🙂

  • Jill Weatherholt

    Another hilarious post! Hey, we’re all in this together. You’ll get support when that self-doubt consumes your mind, but you might want to start looking for that cave. 🙂

  • nrhatch

    To quote one of the Fab Four . . . . “Life, writing included, is what happens while you’re busy making plans.”

    I no longer tell myself “this is the last time I’m going to do X.” Instead, I focus on enjoying the journey, without regard for the ultimate destination. Because, really, in the end, all we’re doing is “watching the wheels go round and round.”

    I really love to watch them roll. 😎

    If you enjoy the journey, you win. No matter what happens, you win.

  • Bryan Edmondson

    I like your writing voice on this blog very much. It is light and friendly and you use catchy phrases like “tossing around,” and “fleshing it out.” Also this blog has a very warm and fuzzy feeling to it, as opposed to cold and prickly.
    You have the post with the most.

  • feminineocean

    Hey, when the idea hits, you got to eat it. I’m working on a story idea that hit me like a sledge hammer (while taking a shower – seems to be my idea space.) You can always self-publish your novel as an e-book, what I did with my story. At any rate, enjoy the act of creating a story – and facing the challenge of writing a novel. I’ll read it at any point. Remember the story is the journey and the process is the art. Have fun.

    • ericjbaker

      Thanks for the encouragement. I need positive, centered people like you in my life.

      I’m starting tomorrow night (This isn’t procrastination. I’ve been fighting a fever and chest cold for the past three days while trying to manage a booked up schedule)

  • Paula Tohline Calhoun

    Write on, right on, rite on! It’s all the same I suppose, an effort, a correct thing, and a ceremonial observance of talent. You’ve got tons of all of them – the will to expend the effort, the correct idea in mind (according to your pro friend), and with the appropriate mind-set and location, your book and your efforts toward the correct end will be a ceremony, a holy place of work and ultimate joy.

    Eric, there are few people’s words I enjoy reading more than I do yours, so I am flying high on my confidence in you. Reviewing your book will be one of my greatest pleasures. I will be patient, because in this case, i know my patience will be rewarded. Be prepared, however, I am not the “fawning” sort when it comes to reviews, so as hard as it may seem, i might have some, or at least one, comments that are less than rousing kudos! It will probably be that it isn’t long enough, still. . .
    Because I know that you are an atheist, I get the feeling that you would be the best person to read my decidedly Christian-oriented memoir (it would be hard for it not to be), so I am going to send you my prologue/Chapter 1 via e-mail for you to give me your thoughts, in much the same way your pro friend did. Are you game? If not, I will trudge along, chewing my fingernails and wondering if what I write has the least bit of originality, fun, humor,, and/or pathos…

    Don’t worry about saying “no.” My feelings will of course be shattered, but what else is new? I pick up the pieces daily anyway. Actually, I have a very oily duck’s back – which is equally dangerous in that even the good advice rolls off of it. Oh, well.

    Until then my loyal blog friend, write, write, write. I shall do my best to work up my own head of steam after a rather long hiatus, and we shall meet at the big Pulitzer party in 2020 – what do you say?

  • jdhoward

    “They’re already starting. I’m already telling myself it’s a stupid idea no one will want to read about. I’m already sure it will be a plotless disaster.”

    If that’s your main fear, you’re already on your way to success. My fear is that I won’t be able write my story in such a way that people will “get it”.

    • ericjbaker

      Do you mean it’s an esoteric subject or that it’s metaphorical? I’m curious.

      • jdhoward

        As much as I’d like to consider my story esoteric, it’s actually not that sophisticated. It requires a tremendous degree of susp. of disbelief (paranormal genre). It has a lot of simple plots and concepts intertwined.
        When I tell it, it’s clear. Fits like a puzzle. But to pull it together in writing, my creative mind becomes all marbles. I need a formula, like you seem to have. With your talent, you can make people interested in your ‘stupid idea’.

        • ericjbaker

          I think you just have to believe in your concept and write it with conviction, as if you believe it’s real. Imagine if George Lucas had said in the early 1970s, “Nah, this idea it too implausible,” when he was dabbling with the Star Wars concept. Nothing in that series holds up to the slightest bit of logical scrutiny, yet it is the most valuable entertainment franchise in the world.

        • jdhoward

          That is true. And Star Wars was very original, nothing else like it (that I know of) with that ‘let the force be with you’ line and his bizarre characters. I’d like to think my story concept is original. And hey, same to you. Let’s see where you take us with those three words.

  • Earnest Harris

    Way to go my friend. I am on chapter two of my novel. The going is indeed tough. Writing is hard (sometimes, ok most of the time). Keep going.

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