Yes, a progress report on Princess of Stars, something that hasn’t happened in over a year. That’s because, effectively, there has been no progress. To be precise, I have written, re-wrttten, cut, deleted, re-purposed, re-arranged, laid the story down in the despair, hovered on the edge of deleting everything and un-publishing the first four Divine Lotus novels, considered giving up writing entirely, written some more and deleted that– with the net effect being that I have been more-or-less cycling around the same point in the story for more than twelve months. Throw in some clinical depression and about three major life-changes (which are still all working themselves out) and completing this novel has been a goal that has seemed far, far out of reach.
What has changed? Nothing seismic. There’s been no epic epiphany, nor sea-change in my writing. Just a couple of small things that seem to be helping me get unstuck.
Firstly, I think I have hit upon a means to finesse some of my inability to get past my blockage. In my flibbertigibbet way of doing drafts, I normally write passages out-of-sequence, working on later or earlier passages in the narrative when I’m stuck somewhere. Knitting it all together into a coherent story is what happens in the second draft. This time around, however, I am doing something a little different; I am writing the story with the intention of not necessarily adhering to a linear timeline for the action– and, in the process, I am not worrying my pointy little noggin too much about connecting passages and such what. It seems to be helping. The finished product may look quite different from the other Divine Lotus novels, but the whole point of this is to get to a finished product, and I’m getting kinda ruthless in pursuit of that result.
Secondly, I think I’ve finally reached the acceptance stage of grief over my writing.
When I started, rather late in life, to write in a serious way I thought that I was pretty good. The process since then has been a slow coming to terms with the fact that I will never be anything more than mediocre. There’s a reason why no editors ever accepted any of my over-the-transom submissions, nor any agent ever took me on. I’m just not that good.
It’s been hard for me to get to this place. I spent a long, long time in the denial stage (ain’t just a river in Egypt, folks). I think I passed through anger and bargaining pretty quickly, and then spent a very long time in depression. It didn’t help that my depression wasn’t just about my writing, either. The last twenty or so years have been hard in many ways, lightened here and there by friendships and the arrival of my daughter (make that the glorious and splendid arrival of my daughter, but I digress…..).
I may- may-be coming out of that stage. As I mentioned, there have been some serious life-changes, and those may be helping. The jury is still out. But I believe I’m done with illusions about myself and my writing.
I will never have much of an audience; I will never make much money at this; and it’s very doubtful anyone will ever make a movie out of any of my works. If any of this were to happen, I would be pleasantly surprised and give God the glory– but I have to stop holding my breath over it. I’ve been getting dizzy….
Having said that, I’ve gotten to the point where I want to finish this story and the others still in my head, for my sake and for the story itself. It’s not going to be great literature and it’s not going to wow the masses. But I think the story is worth completing.
So– 49,000 words out of a projected 150,000, not quite one-third. I am finally on the verge of getting Kathy on the road in pursuit of the Lady Rose Adamant– yes, the core action is a chase– and hopefully I will be able to report solid progress from here on out. Not that there won’t be missteps and recalculations– knowing me, it’s pretty much guaranteed. But I think I see a path forward, and that’s progress.
Oh, and PS– I got to use the word selbstgefällig today in the story. I am so jazzed…..