Digging a Rut into a Wishing Well

Meh.  I’m starting to sink into the funk I babbled about previously in “My Inner Critical Beeyotch.”  The dealio is that I’ve approached the point in my project where I really need to start bringing everything to climax and a concise resolution; the mental obstacle that I’m encountering now is not a writing block, but, rather, a plotting block.  In fact, my problem is the opposite of writer’s block, as ideas and words are flowing really naturally now, but I think what’s working against me is that, as far as the books I like to read, I gravitate to the lengthier novels that I lose myself in for a nice chunk of time, the ones with gradual character and plot development, that steep you into some of the minutiae to help you feel more intimate with the characters, like you’re really accompanying them through a personal journey.  I’ve been consequently following a pace that feels natural and necessary to me, knowing full well the word count still wouldn’t come close to some of those beasts I have on my bookshelf.  Unfortunately, the tidbit of advice that keeps coming to my attention through various sources is that word length for first-time authors should not exceed 90,000-100,000 words.  Um, well…I’m already in that vicinity and feel like I have a ways to go.

Here’s what I’m struggling with:  I started this project as something for me, a creative outlet I’ve been wanting to plug into for years and am only first now seizing the opportunity.  At the outset, I told myself it was first and foremost for me, but if I finished it and was pleased enough, it wouldn’t hurt to try to make something more of it by submitting it to agents in pursuit of that pipe dream of getting published.  Why just let it sit there on the computer, right?  But that said, I don’t want to be overly inhibited by keeping my eye on the publishing prize. I want to create, not sell out, but I also want to be realistic.

Should I just keep writing as I have been to get the ideas out, get the conflicts resolved, knowing full well I’ll have to go back and take an ax to a massive amount of it?  I suppose it’s better to have the clay to mold with, as Bonni Goldberg discusses on page 9 of Room to Write (see “More Messiness From the Membrane“), as I can always take away.  I need to remember my workshop guidance:  “Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, kill your darlings…”

All right, then.  Chill, Monkey, and focus on the next writing prompt.

The Prompt:

Page 21 of Room to Write asks us to record our wishes.  As Goldberg says:

“Wishes are voices of the imagination, taking you out of the realm of reality on a daily basis.  For this reason, in creative writing, it is worth paying attention to them.”

We can write our secret wishes, our past or long-time favorites, or the one that is nudging us this very minute.  I will follow this last one, for obvious reasons.


Today I wish for clarity of mind…that I can sift and sort and structure my swarming ideas into a manageable plot to continue writing…that I will hold fast to my original goals surrounding theme and mood…and that my instinct will guide me through my pacing and revision.  I wish that the end product will be something I am utterly proud of and content to share with those closest to me, with the added bonus of being something marketable, so that I may also share my story with the world. I wish for the patience, inspiration, and discipline to see me through toward this end in the meantime.


Ah, it’s nice to let that out.  No shame in wishing.  What do YOU wish for?


About thefallenmonkey

Primate that dapples in writing when not picking others' fleas or flinging its own poop. View all posts by thefallenmonkey

3 responses to “Digging a Rut into a Wishing Well

  • Eva

    Hey there – am following your blog since recently – this post strikes a chord with me. If you are willing to accept my somewhat limited experience (1 novel finished, currently with an agent for submission, 2nd “in construction”), here it is:

    Don’t think about the publication yet and go wild. For me it was important to explore my characters over writing (lenthy). Even if you then have to let go of some stuff – it swings there in the background for the reader, while they don’t miss something while reading. I had to cut back 100 pages (20%) of my manuscript to make it more representable for the agent. And to my surprise it was really easy, felt right – and most times I could not remember myself what was missing.

    Don’t restrict yourself from the start, but finish this, however meandering, let it rest and then look at it with a fresh eye – or even better, let somebody else look onto it with a critical but sympathetic eye. The parts you can leave out will expose themselves naturally. Good luck with your writing!

    • thefallenmonkey

      You’re lovely! Thank you a tremendous amount for 1) indulging my wee blog here, and 2) offering such valuable advice. It is helping me breath much easier, and sending me into my self-proclaimed reclusive holiday weekend in the right spirits. Having suffered the same writing procrastination that you’ve blogged about, I hope to curl up with this project these next days to really spew out the ideas, and I have faith in what you’ve said about the revision process falling into place naturally. It makes much sense that the over-writing can assist in development of character and only benefits what bits do get to remain that much more, so it won’t be babble for nothing! Congratulations on your own remarkable writing achievements–I’ve visited your blog and am already in deep adoration of it, content and layout-wise. You have a new subscriber. Thank you again, Eva.

      • Eva

        Thanks so much for this, am happy you found something useful in the comment and like my stuff. Without becoming too touchy feely now, I really liked your blog theme – fun and inventive. And isn’t that what makes (even a writer’s) life worthwhile? 😉 Have a productive, enjoyable (!) writer’s weekend.

Pick my fleas!

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