Jeff O'Handley

The Doubting Writer Finds His Voice

The Lure of the Shiny

The good news? This isn’t a post about politics, or Harvey Weinstein, or anything really unpleasant. The bad news? I don’t know. Maybe it’s not bad news at all. In fact, there really isn’t much news at all.

Saturday was a good day for writing. I am now heading into the final hundred pages of the RiP. I’d love to have this back in Agent Carrie’s hands on November 1, but that may be a bit of a tall order. I’m not the fastest writer in the world, and there’s still some rejiggering to do, but progress!

While I was getting myself organized Saturday morning I had myself briefly tempted by the lure of the shiny–appropriate, since one of the chapters I was working on involved a father-daughter fishing expedition. Whilst searching through my papers trying to find a section I had rewritten (as much as it’s a waste of paper and a consumption of rather expensive printer ink, I really like to have a hard copy for rereading/editing; it’s much more fun to mark up), I found a printout of an outline I had sent to Carrie for the WiP last year–and gazed upon it with all the longing an eighth grade boy feels for his first crush. I wanted nothing more than to dive back into that manuscript, which is going to need one hell of a lot of work before I can even consider sending it to Carrie. It must be time to start working on it, those characters have been creeping back into my brain.

What is it about the new that is so attractive? I really like the RiP–again. And it had a nibble last year, which means someone at a publishing house really liked it, too. That glimpse of words with my main character’s name on the WiP, though, was almost enough to make me say, “I can work on both of these at the same time; go for it!” I’m not sure I can, however, and it may not be wise to try it, though in truth, rewriting one thing and reading/making editorial notes on another are not the same thing, and require different parts of the brain muscle.

I’ve often said that the way I keep motivated is that I want my stories published, want someone to read them, and that the only chance of that happening is to finish what I start. Now, I can add this to the Kick-in-the-Pants toolbox: Want to work on that new shiny? Finish that thing you’ve been working on for weeks/months/years.

How do you resist the lure of the shiny new thing?

Music! I think I’ve posted this one before, but maybe not. It’s on my mind lately, for reasons I can’t explain. It never made it onto an official studio record, but if it had, it probably wouldn’t have sounded as alive as it does on this rehearsal. Enjoy!

5 Responses

  1. I think the new shiny is particularly attractive if we feel bogged down with what we're working on. Sometimes, the end feels so out of reach. I think a big part of it is learning patience. But I hear you on working on one thing at a time. That's enough of a struggle for my brain, so I admire all those multitaskers!

  2. -Nick–I suppose in a way the 'shiny' is a lot like following the path of least resistance. New stories tend to gush along, while older, much revised pieces trickle. Riding the rapids is a lot more fun than portaging the canoe around the rocks!

  3. "with all the longing an eighth grade boy feels for his first crush"

    Apt description. Sometimes the rough idea is just so much than wrestling with an unruly story that needs a lot of "rejiggering."

  4. It's SO hard to avoid the Shiny!!!!
    I've got one waiting for me – and I'll dig into it during NaNo (or that's the plan at this point)
    I also have 3 (4???) Shinies waiting in the wings 🙂

  5. -Donna–thanks! I think there's a word missing from your comment, but I get the idea!

    -Jemi–That's a lot of shinies! How will you decide which to polish first?

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