Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Writing angst!

It's been almost a month.  How have you people survived without me complaining a bit?

Let me tell you a story.

In early June, roughly, of 2004, I finished my very first book (barring the hand-written 'book' about the wolf three years prior).  I was eight years old.  This book was about 100 pages long, written in 19-point Baskerville Semi-Bold.  It told the first part of the epic story of four ordinary girls prophesied to save an entire planet - an alien one, in which Angels watched over and participated in a violent war between the planet's inhabitants.

I called my mom and I emailed my cousin.  I was thrilled.  I was beyond paralyzed with delight.  My first book was done, and the girls' journey - the journey of STAR - was just started.  I had no idea that the journey would keep going.  And going.  And going.

And going.

I had no idea that I'd been Doctor Frankenstein to the Energizer Bunny of youngster-written series.

Today, only a few days from my officially-sanctioned birthday of what is, for now, The Aster Trilogy, I looked over my three notebooks' worth of notes and almost chucked the whole project out.  Because as much as I like to imagine myself as Sherlock Holmes, I'm far too much Jawn and my emotions occasionally get the best of me.

I was thinking of a girl I don't really know but know of.  She's in the writing group I mention a lot.  She's written... I don't know, seven drafts, I think, of her novel, over... five years?  I can't remember.  I've never read her writing but everyone in the writing group is in awe.  Lots of them have read the drafts.   Everyone has beautiful things to say about her and her book.  Life-changing.  Spiritually energizing.  Special.

I started thinking about that and then I looked at my heaping mass of steaming, stinking crap that I've accumulated over nine years of writing and rewriting and losing drafts and changing storylines and ditching and creating new characters.  I must have written ten versions of the first Aster book; as many for the second; five for the third; and at least one for the fourth, fifth, and even sixth book.  I've never actually finished the series, but I've still written about thirty books.  In the same series.  Today, the grand total of usable books is two.  I thought I was done.  Just one more book, and then it'd just be editing and tweaking, maybe a few scenes added or deleted.

Today I realized I'd have to start over.  Again.

And I thought What in heck is the point to this anymore?  There is none.  I'm torturing myself.  This series will never be done.  Nobody except my cousin has read it, and her life, I'm fairly certain, has not been made better or even just changed by the reading.  It's not spiritual.  It has no mention of God in it.  I didn't even put great themes like Harry Potter's in it.  It's not a life-changing story.  It's a story about four witchy teenage girls who fight and complain their way through a really close encounter.

It's basically worthless.


Except, from the time I was nine until after I turned fifteen, when Sacrifice happened (I don't count the 40k Bloods book), Aster books were the only books I finished.

They were the first books I wrote where I really, really liked the characters.

I wrote my own fanfic for these characters.

I drew diagrams, I created maps, I formulated timelines.

In between the long hiatuses and the times I ignored it and the times I sat up almost in tears because it was never going to work, I have to stop writing these damn books (pardon my French), I had fun.

The story still appeals to me; the subplots and backstories still manage to get to me; the characters keep growing and growing; and I continue to understand the world better.

It's probably still a waste of time.  I'll be amazed if I finish these books by the time I'm forty.  And it won't change anyone's lives.  It's an action flick of a series, that's all; shallow, pointless.  The kind of books literature teachers and youth pastors cringe at because there is no possible moral or lesson they could squeeze out of these pointless pages.

But still.

June the first, The Aster Trilogy's ninth birthday, will find me up at all hours, working on the new version.  Maybe it'll be the final version.  I didn't know what I'd started when I was nine years old.  It follows that I won't know what I'll finish before it's through.