A Passion Project Is Hard To Find

It’s official: NaNoWriMo 2014? Just not working for me.

And I’m okay with that. I sort of knew going into this that I was fooling around. Experimenting with a story that had a very minimal amount of cook time in my head, that was completely out of my comfort zone as far as genre and construction goes. I’m a plotter. I like having a plot with the appropriate beats. I’m not usually into character driven “200 pages of me telling you about my life” kind of stuff. That’s a lot harder than it looks.

I got about 7000 words into Figments before I realized that I’m not ready for it. I’ve mentioned previously that stories have to stay with me for a while. They have to linger in my mind for at least a year before I grow comfortable with them. Sort of how you wouldn’t bring a stranger home to your mother, or go on a long vacation with them – you want to know them a bit better before you spend a long stretch of time with them. You want to know that you’re compatible.

Most writers have a notebook of ideas to pull from. I have over a hundred. But very few of those ideas are good enough, or familiar enough to me, to last me through the novel-writing process. If you’re going to finish a book, you have to be in love with an idea. You have to be willing to marry it, to work things out through thick and thin, in sickness and in health, for richer and for poorer. Otherwise, you’ll run out of steam. You’ll look at your characters like random acquaintances that you’re not sure how you ended up with. You’ll just…stop caring.

That’s not to say the passion projects are easy. We all hate our voice sometimes. It’s not turning out “right.” It’s not true to our vision. There are plotholes. But the great thing is that we say “we’ll fix that in the next draft.” Because we know there will be a next draft, and we know we’ll want to write that draft. Even when we get frustrated, it’s still a good thing. We know that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel because what we want more than anything is for this project to be complete.

With that, I’m refocusing my energy on Paradisa. I miss the characters. I miss the world. I want to put the next beta draft in my readers’ hands. So while I’ve shelved the NaNo novel that just isn’t working out (yet), I’ve still got a real passion project to occupy my time. Even after a straight year of working on Paradisa, the story still excites me. Those sorts of stories are the ones truly worth writing. I’m not sure anything less could get me through this process.

And speaking of passion, my mother’s passion project manifested this past weekend in the form of AtomaCon. It was even more successful than last year! I was delighted to see how full all the panel rooms were. It reflected very well on us for the sake of our panelists and guests. I also received several compliments on my “2014 in Anniversaries” video that we showcased at Opening Ceremonies. :)

Thank you Leona Wisoker, for capturing what is probably the only pic of me during the entire convention.

Thank you Leona Wisoker, for capturing what is probably the only pic of me during the entire convention.

Mom and I are already cooking up some cool things for 2015, so maybe some of you will make it to Charleston next year. And to all of you NaNo participants – hope all is well! Good luck with writing your NaNo novel, or the novel you’d rather be writing instead ;) Follow the project your subconscious is telling you to follow, because that’s the one you will stick with.

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11 thoughts on “A Passion Project Is Hard To Find

  1. Nanowrimo didn’t work for me either this year. Usually I can push through the whole not having a plot thing and just write and get the words and some form of story out so I could say that i just did it and win. However, this year I actually CARE about my writing and writing time, and wasn’t feeling what I started with and coulnd’t bring myself to finish. I won NaNoWriMo seven times. It just felt like I should keep on doing it just because. I was wrong. I want to be a published author too, but this is not the answer. Don’t feel bad about it, you’re still writing!

  2. I must say, I’m having a hard time pushing through NaNo. It’s my first year and it’s not my typical style of writing … fast, fast, fast. I like to edit as I go and you just can’t do that with NaNo. I’ll finish it, just because I’m like that, but I have no idea if what I’m writing is ANY good.

    Congrats on a successful AtomaCon- maybe I should look that up since I have no clue what it is. And without a doubt, if Paradisa is your passion, then that’s where you should be!

    • I don’t tend to edit as I go, but I definetly wonder “is this story going to be worth reading?” And the overwhelming answer I was getting with this WIP was “No.” And that’s honestly not me being hard on myself – it’s the really true feeling of “I just don’t have something special here. I should work on something that is special instead.”

      And I do feel like Paradisa is special, at least to me :) It interests me, so hopefully that means it will interest other people. On the opposite end of the spectrum, I can’t expect people to like a book that barely holds my own attention.

      You should come! I’m sure your family would love Charleston :) Kentucky isn’t too~ far. We have three full days of literary programming, and we accept authors as guests. So you could come, set up a table, sell some books – or you could just attend and soak up info from others. Kids under 12 get in free too, and there’s plenty for them to do. We’ve got a guy who built a perfect remote-controlled replica of R2-D2 and it’s popular with kids (and everyone, really. Let’s be real :P)

      Also, next year, we’re planning on having a Delorean XD

  3. I haven’t had the occasion yet to fall out of love (or like) with what I’m working on. I hope that doesn’t happen too much in my future. I’d hate to put a lot of work into something only to lose the spark of excitement it gives me. But it’s bound to happen someday. Of course, when we’re editing, we can get bored with our novel, but if the original appeal of the story is still there, I think we’re in good shape.

    Glad you had fun at AtomaCon! Bet your mom is ready for a long nap. :)

    • That’s fortunate! Do you only put energy into stuff you know you love in the first place, or do you push through no matter what? Personally, I usually back off from something I know is feeling ‘forced.’ I’m pretty picky about the projects I work on, so I seldom have to shelve them, but NaNoWriMo inspired me to do one anyway this year. Guess it didn’t work :P

      Editing is super slow and boring. There have been moments in editing where I’ve burnt out. But the idea of the future still excites me. Like, I still get excited about sequels and future drafts and stuff. There was one time, with a webseries I worked on, that I burnt out for good though :/ Like, I just reached a point where I lost the drive for it and haven’t touched it since. If I do approach it again, it’ll be a reboot.

      My mom is ready to nap the rest of the year, I think :P

      • I actually prefer the editing process. I feel I can relax a little, unlike in the frenzied first-draft phase. And at that point, yes, I’d push through. But if I lost my passion for the book early in the process, I’d switch to something else before I vested more energy into it.

  4. I can see your point about have a project that you are really in love with. I you’re the type of writer (no pun intended, honest) that plans much of you r book out I can see why you would need to take the break from the NaNo project. Hope it grows on you.

    I’m really excited about watching your journey with Paradisa. It sounds like it is coming along nicely.

    I can definitely say that when it come sot my writing I am in no way a planner. Even in writing for my lit crit classes. That prompted one of my professors to comment on a paper I had handed in: “Faulkner can write stream on consciousness, you cannot.”

  5. It’s totally understandable. Everyone’s writing process is different and only you know what works best for you in the present. I think that focusing on Paradisa is just as productive as NaNoWriMo, if not more so. You already have some heavy investment in it. Good luck!

    • Thank you! Hey, at least I can say I tried. I was hoping to win because I’ve won the two years previous, but trying to hit a word count just isn’t a good enough reason for me to write. I really need to be into the story *nod*

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