Wednesday, September 4, 2013

In-between Insecurities

The first Wednesday of the month is time for Insecure Writers Support Group, hosted by Alex Cavanaugh and his excellent team. Click here for a list of all the participants and to join in.

I'm suffering from "in-between insecurities" right now. I've finished one book, I really have, but I can't settle on my next project, and I'm so insecure of letting go of the finished one (surely it could use one more good polish! one more twist at the end!).

I'm really torn about whether to commit to a new story, a fairy tale retelling that I've been collecting some ideas on this summer, or go back to one my three earlier manuscripts and work on fixing one of them up. I love all three of them, but I know they need major surgery: in other words, pretty much complete re-writes. If I commit a lot of time to one of those, will I lose some of the inspiration I've been enjoying with the new story?

When I participated in the "Top Ten concepts that would immediately make me pick up or buy a book" last spring (hosted by the Broke and the Bookish blog), I kept seeing two things show up on almost every list: fairytale retellings. And time twists (they showed up on my list, too).

So I'm really tempted to go with my retelling idea. But it's a very obscure fairy tale: Giselle. Actually, it's a ballet based on an old German poem. Classical ballet lovers will recognize it right away, and as soon as I heard that the Denver Ballet was putting on a production of it this fall, that's when the inspiration started stirring... what about a modern, young adult retelling of Giselle?   I'm going to see the ballet in October and it seems like perfect timing to start working on the story for NaNoWriMo in November.

But will anyone other than ballet lovers have any interest in this tale?  This isn't one that kids grow up hearing bedside stories of or Disney movies of. It's dark and tragic, involving suicide and vengeful female ghosts.

I'm a little insecure writing about such a dark and scary premise, too. Like all proper writers, I put my characters through some very dark times. Light shines the brightest when it shines out of darkness. But suicide is a whole new area of darkness...

And my other three books are sitting there begging me to work on them again. I have a time twisty story, a historical fantasy, full of mythical creatures clashing from different mythologies, and a MG fantasy that I think is the greatest idea in the world (hey, I'm allowed to fantasize). I know, with some work, I could make these into good stories. Giselle, I'm not so sure of, it's such new and scary territory.

I suppose in the end, I'll go with my gut feeling. But I'm always interested to hear: how do other artists choose their projects from the pile?


  1. I hope you do all three projects eventually!! Why not!?!? You can do this!! Yay!! Take care

  2. I'm lucky in that I don't suffer from the in between insecurity. I've seen it chew up numerous writers, so you're not alone. For me, I usually have a project that's BEATING on the inside of my brain to come out. Sometimes it pans out, some times it dies at chapter 2, but they are all just dying to be told.

    In the end, remember that you're going to be dealing with this book for months (possibly years) so be sure you pick one that makes you giddy about spending time with it. I think the hard part is the idea that your whole career rests on this choice, but it doesn't. Even if this is totally the wrong book, and not the one, you can always just write another one. I know it sounds flip, but it's the truth. you really can just write another book.

  3. I take whatever one speaks to me the loudest - and sometimes I have to listen quite carefully to which one it is. I have several ideas percolating in my brain for my next novel, but none is demanding to be told above the others. It will, all in good time.

    To me, it sounds like you need to work on the fairytale idea. I think it's an awesome concept.

  4. Best to go with your instinct - and stick to the one you pick! They all sound super-interesting and fun! :)

  5. I'm right there with you, Margo. I've got so many things I want to work on and getting started is definitely the hardest part! I'm tempted to work on two right now--the one that's almost done and the one I want to start. Only time will tell...

  6. Three projects? They all sound intriguing...
    At least you will never be bored...
    I say follow your gut!
    September co-host for IWSG.
    Writer In Transit

  7. Amazing idea!!! That sounds fantastic. I love retellings and I think your idea is very intriguing. You should do it!

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  9. If I could write fairy tale retells all day, I would. The latest short story I sold was a Hansel and Gretel retell, and I'm a first draft into a twisted Rapunzel. Keep 'em comin'.

  10. To shut up the other stories in my head or the ones I've started, I dabble with them all. Usually within the first week one of them speaks louder than the others. (Gosh, when I read this back I sound a little strange.)

  11. I'm at the same point. What to write, what to write. I think I'll be going with a fairy-tale retelling too. Sort of. And in the end, I go with the idea that leaves me most excited. The one that I can't wait to write, because I think my enthusiasm is what will make the book good.

    And P.S. YAY! I can finally comment again!

  12. Found out what I did wrong and found your other posts.

    Any why don't you test-fly the finished novel. If you get any takers, they'll have revising and polishing again.



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