Monday, August 5, 2013

On "Failure" (and Procrastination)

I think I'm the master procrastinator. If you think I'm joking, then my book list should allay any doubts.

I am also the master of not-finishing-anything. But it has occurred to me of late that not every unfinished book is a failure.

Take Work Two (Ana). I spent a great deal of time developing that story, the downtrodden girl destined for greatness. It is immensely clich├ęd in theory, but the way she was to get to the destination I had hoped was unique. I am certainly yet to hear of another book that describes a character with the same attitudes and values as hers.

And yet, despite the weeks of effort I put into that, it was going nowhere. The storytelling just wasn't engaging with the reader. It was painful, but I eventually shelved it, knowing that until the twist or new character spoke to me, it was pointless continuing with drivel. Shelving hurts - at the time I always assume it will be forever, so even if the shelving turns out to be temporary, it can sometimes make me feel a little sad.

Even so, all was not lost. It was writing Work Four's outline that I realised the idea was familiar, and so Work Two's premise could be used. (I know I've mentioned this before but stay with me.)

The point is... time spent writing is never wasted. Shelving a book is not the end. Accepting a work's limitations is not failure. It is a learning process, and we are growing as writers. It could be said that the secret to good writing is in what gets thrown out.

In my procrastination for today, I stumbled on a blog I'm loving. Oh, I hate what the blogger has to say and I hate her genre. What can I say, I'm opinionated. But it stirred me into writing today, and into updating this blog. Twice. You only see one new post, but that's because I posted something else and queued it for later.

Even annoyance can be a tool. Including being annoyed at your own work. See?

(Ever the procrastinator, I don't think I'll post this... just yet.)