I think most people who have heard me talk or read this blog long enough to get to know me know I’m very goal oriented. A friend, who has since passed away, often complained that I was so goal oriented that I rarely stopped to enjoy my success before I was on to the next goal. Over the years I realized that’s because the fun of goal setting, for me, is the work I do to get there. It’s about the progress and path I make, not about where I’m going. Yet, I still get locked into goals really easily. I often have to be reminded that I can give up and change things. Today, I’m going to write about forging a new path instead of taking the one I had planned.
You all know this year one of my projects is Missing Auggie, a romance mystery about a woman whose husband disappears. I wrote this novel originally in November 2014 (clearly, 2014 was a big year for me as a writer). This year I am cleaning it up for the second draft. My plan was that this book would be released about 2020 or later. Then I started working on it and realized this was far better developed than I realized. It needed to be fleshed out as a stronger mystery, but maybe it would be worth pushing it up to 2019, as book three.
There was one problem, the plan for 2019 was originally New Devil. I have been working on it like crazy because it’s not ready. It’s fun and has a lot of rich content, but I am still struggling with the actual plot. Even when I pitch the story to people, I focus on the mythology of my hell rather than the plot. The idea of flipping the order of publishing was actually really easy to accept. I felt very confident that 2019 could be Missing Auggie’s year and 2020 would be the year for New Devil. Great! Problem solved!
The problem really is about New Devil and nothing else. Everything else I have been writing and planning is plot driven and I can easily talk about the plot. Even stories that are in the idea phase are better than New Devil. I’m stuck with it and it’s on it’s third draft and needing a fourth. All of the work that needs to be done is plot centric. This is not good for what should be a fun and easy book to write. So, I talked to my writer friends and the response I got was: maybe this isn’t the novel you should write anymore.
New Devil was from 2004 and remains a reflection of me as a writer in 2004. I can pull out the anger, but one of my main characters is simply a terrible person. I tried to balance her with a better co-protagonist, but they are both too one sided. I just don’t love them. I love Hell, the residents, the mythology, and Death. I don’t love my humans all that much. New Devil has become a book about the universe I’m building and the quirky characters in it. Maybe the solution is to save it for the White Council series as bonus material. It was easy to consider this because, deep down, I know this is true and I was ready to hear it from someone else.
I sat down with my many journals and changed all my plans. I put away all the New Devil drafts and notes. I went to bed and started playing out new content for Missing Auggie. Some thing had happened while writing this weekend and they needed to be considered in the action. I couldn’t focus on it because my mind kept going back to New Devil. I had made the right decision, but to not share some of this is disappointing.
Meanwhile, I have been formatting and thinking about short story collections. As I lay in bed, trying to focus on Missing Auggie, I realized: I can share the fun parts of New Devil as a collection of short stories. People can enjoy the fun orientation ride through Hell. People can spend the day with Death (secret, he’s Slender Man!). People can answer riddles with the troll who controls the bridge to whatever lays after hell. I can build the White Council universe through short stories. Even better, I can publish the short story collection next December or in December 2019.
So, new plan! Missing Auggie is the focus for the next year of writing! I’m really excited about this because, as it turns out, that’s what I had planned a year ago. I’m also going to pull out all the fun New Devil stories and start submitting them to literary journals! This is a much better plan!