We Do Not Control the Material . . .

. . . the material controls us. I think that’s the way it is for most writers. Even those of us who outline the smallest detail, build up pages and pages of research, plan out exactly how many words it will take to tell the story, we tell the stories that must be told, the ones that stick in our heads with little needling barbs.

So, instead of plunging into another tale of fantasy or horror, I’m looking to begin a literary fiction novel over the next week or so. This is a prospect both scary and exciting for me, a challenge that I’m not sure I’m up to, but one I’m anxious to try. I have great ambitions for what I want this story to be, but then again, notice this post’s title.

I’ve had misgivings about starting this one, the biggest being that I’m just not sure if I’m good enough yet to write it. I’ve read a lot of fantastic writers over the years, a lot of fantastic stories, and I want this one to read like a Chabon or a McEwan. To accomplish this, I’ll have to reach much deeper into that creative center of my mind. The writing of the authors I most admire has a poetic quality that I’m not sure I have yet, but that is what I’ll need to find if I’m to consider this effort successful. This is what scares me–that I’ll spend so much time and creative energy, build up so much hope for this project, then fall short.

It’s been a very tough year for a number of reasons, my writing being the least of them. Sure, I failed this time to get an agent, but I learned a lot about the process and feel much better about my chances with the new book. I got very close, yes indeed, but that only makes the ultimate result more bittersweet than if I had received only rejections. I will break through–of that I have no doubt–but the question is when and with what piece of writing. Hope is the one of the few things I have in abundance.

So, while I tidy up some details from Project Superhero (title pending) and wait for the feedback from my proofreaders, I’ll work on getting my mind right for this new, exciting, terrifying step in my writing.

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About Lee Smiley

I write things. Maybe you'll read them.
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