Thursday, May 15, 2014

Falling in love with sparkly new ideas--for keeps

By Suzanne Warr

Once upon a time my dear friend sent me a writer's block--

And I treasure it, but mostly cause it's such a great joke.  I know there are those who struggle to come up with ideas, and I know how easy it would be to think that an overabudance of ideas would be heaven.  But, in reality, those of us that can't turn off the idea spigot no matter how fast it flows can feel overwhelmed and almost crushed by the weight of too many choices.

So, how do you select that new project?  How do you know if it's the one?  Writers often talk about going with the idea that speaks to them, that gets them most excited, and that's not a bad place to start.  Consider this quote, though, which was said by my wise (and well-published!) friend James Maxey, and I'm requoting from a mutual friend, Luc Reid's, blog.  Got all that?  Okay, here's the quote:
For what it’s worth, I think mere excitement is a vastly overrated reason to commit to a novel. Excitement is sufficient grounds to take part in a one night stand, but committing to a novel is more like choosing someone to marry. There needs to be that initial passion, but there has to be something stronger beneath it. The novel has to share your values and your long term goals. You have to be willing to stand by it in sickness and health, through riches and poverty. You’re going to see this novel without its makeup on. You’ll have to be there to comfort it when it gets the flu and has bad things pouring out of every orifice. You’ll have to keep believing in it when it hits low points, when it’s lost its way and no longer moves you to passion. You’re going to have to keep going home and sharing a bed with it even though other younger, better looking, more clever novels flirt with you. 

The long term rewards of such a relationship make it all worth it. You write the novel, edit it, polish it, and all the time it edits and polishes you. At the very least, you should emerge from a finished novel as a better writer, but I also think it’s possible to emerge from a novel as a better person.
I found that incredibly insightful, and would take it one step further.  You also have to love that novel enough to spend your holidays with your novel-in-laws, and be prepared to love whatever children (sequels) you and that novel make together.  No matter how they turn out.

For me, that means sometimes waiting on a novel concept until I can find the deeper connection I know I'll need that goes beyond the excitement of a shiny new idea.  Other times, it's love at first sight and I know in my gut that we're meant for each other.  Either way, I hope that with every novel I can give it my whole heart and all the energy required to help it reach its full potential, and maybe let me stretch to reach mine, too.

How do you choose which project to work on next?

No comments:

Post a Comment