The Fear of Shelving

Last night is as close as I have come to shelving my current novel in progress. It may yet come to that.

To begin with I started thinking that if I keep asking the question about continuing with this story at this time, that’s probably a strong indication that I shouldn’t continue. For more than a year I have, every few months, revisited the idea of putting this novel on ice. How many times does one think about doing such a thing before actually doing it?

Plus, I have written in this long project more sporadically than any other. I wrote the first draft of a stage play last year, and the lion’s share of a one man show. Flower to Dionysus my “first” novel will be available for purchase later this year, after I go through the final proof read. Getting to this place with that novel has been a slow but steady climb over a few years.

For straight up fun, two years ago I finished an entire mystery novel within within Nanowrimo.

In each of those cases their were struggles. There were days, or even stretches of several days during which I didn’t feel like working on the project. Sometimes I didn’t. But then I’d get back to it. I’d push my way into the momentum of writing again. The desire to have any given story told, available some day to readers, got me going through the dry spots. Discipline won out in each of the examples I gave above, as well as countless others in regarding shorter fiction and non-fiction projects.

Yet I stop for working on this novel for extending periods of time.

My initial reaction is that I am just being lazy or lacking discipline. Yet as I have demonstrated in this post, there have been all kinds of projects, even of similar length, through which I have persevered. I’ve even been looking forward to starting the next draft of the play soon. And I will be performing the one-man show next month. Discipline, it would appear, is not my issue. Motivation is not, in and of itself my issue.

So, the natural consideration lately is that the project itself is an issue.

Which is odd, because I still like the overall concept of this novel. I believe in the theme or message I wanted it to deliver. The characters work for me. And yet, something is just not coming together to spark the momentum I eventually found with other long or work intensive projects. To be frank, I’m tired of seeing myself vacillate on this project. I don’t like the attitude or reputation I project, either to the world or to myself with all of the reboots and deadlines and second chances and breaks I take with this novel. I’m better writer than that. Maybe not brilliant or prolific, but better than my behavior with this novel indicates.

If one counts all novel length pieces I have written in my life, including those I had no intention of sharing with anyone, this stalled novel is somewhere around number four. However, it is only the second I ever conceived specifically to be shared with readers some day. Every writer has to shelf something at some point in time, even longer projects. I guess it just smacks of absurd to be thinking about shelving only my second “fully-intended” novel.

Then there is the fact that I have no novel-length narrative in cue to begin should I shelve this one. I have only the faintest whisps of ghosts of potential ideas for Novels Three or Four, and they all lie far off in the fog of my stored imagination. Formless, aimless, and not even capable of summary outside of my mind. If I shelved Novel Two now, I’d be without a novel-length project. (Though I would be working on my play.)

In the end, however, neither being my second fully-intended novel, nor having no other novel in the pipeline are solid reasons for keep this project off the shelf. I know it. It just isn’t easy to accept.

My official list of goals for 2015 gives me the entire year to finish a draft of Novel Two, but I don’t know if that’s the barometer I should stick with. That could allow me to put this whole decision off even longer. I think a mini-Nano sort of thing is in order. Say two solid weeks of daily writing in that project specifically in an effort to reach a word count. If the word count or more enthusiasm fail to materialize, that really should be that.


One might have to be a writer to truly understand that choosing not to write can be just and draining as actually writing.



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