I haven’t been writing much recently, as anyone who’s stumbled upon this blog in the last six months or so can attest to. It’s a combination of making some poor choices with regards to prioritization, as well as some good ones that I’m still adapting to. I have the time, in theory, but I need to use it effectively.
Recently, I’ve had a couple of ideas. And one of them is slowly, but surely, evolving in my head. I’ve run into a snag early in the creative process, but ultimately, I believe that choosing not to abandon it at this point is how I pass this particular test.
Let me zoom out for a second. In any creative work, you can either develop it from the bottom up, or from the top down. My first novel attempt was bottom up, where I had a distinct image for the opening scene, and the rest kind of coalesced (or not) on its own. This one is more top-down, but as in any real situation described by two extremes, it’s actually somewhere in the middle. I have a conceit based on a weird daydream from when I was in high school, or hell, even middle school. The idea was me and a couple friends, the only ones left in a world marred by societal collapse. The details were a bit fuzzy, mostly because my adolescent brain focused on everything being clothing-optional, and us having to repopulate the Earth.
ANYWAY. I realized more recently that this idea actually has some interesting merits, based on interactions with my friends, as well as my own existential mini-crises of the last 4 years or so. The idea of writing about a scenario where your priorities are so indelibly shifted from your day to day life is very appealing to me, especially as my own daily life is settling into the kind of 9 to 5 existence that most of my high school classmates said they could never tolerate (regardless of whether or not they ended up there). This makes it a double fantasy: both writing about a world where your priorities don’t lie in an office, as well as trying again to develop a publishable piece of fiction.
In developing this idea, I’ve come to a roadblock in moving from my overall conceit to something that looks like a plot arc. And I learned from last time that having a plot arc is essential to making any long-form writing finishable. Having a detailed outline for my academic writing after college made that 80-100 page paper seem very, very easy to work at, even working out of order. Having no outline on my previous novel resulted in having a lot of loose strings that were clumsily burned together in a mediocre ending.
So I’m writing an outline. I’m going to start tonight. And I’m going to actually have a project, damn it. There needs to be something in my life that receives intellectual effort other than my job.