We are told the only permanent factor of our life or existence is change. This is of course ridiculous. It doesn’t even make logical sense. This is not to say that things don’t change. Such as here, today, right now.
This will change.
Namely, I want to make a change, and I want you to come along with me.
Since you’re here, on my blog, reading this very post, I can assume that you are aware that I have been writing a continuing story on this blog for close to a year, covering the life and events of my two main characters, Quin and Tannenbaum. This eight months has been one of the best things I have ever done. The regularity of the blog has kept me writing on a consistent basis, it has introduced my writing to a wide segment of people, and has inspired me to commit to what I really want to do: write books and stories. I wish that I had begun this blog ten years ago.
Each week I post a new story segment connecting to the post that came before it, and leaving the ending open for the segment that will come after it.
But everything is not green in the garden. I can’t deny that a few issues have arisen from the blog and the way it works.
Strictly speaking, the blog hasn’t done anything wrong. It’s just a bunch of coded lines that hang around on the internet. It’s fine. The problem is with me.
Every writer writes differently. Some write while wearing the same shirt, some write while wearing nothing at all. My habit is based on the composition of the story, namely, I do not write sequentially, or in other words, when I write a story, I don’t write it in order. Sometimes my imagination has crafted the ending of a story before I’ve thought of how it should begin. When I get an idea, I write it down. The story is revealed to me through a sequence of events, or scenes, that occur in my mind out of order. When I have them written down, then I see how they can be rearranged into place making a linear storyline. If a person would read over my shoulder as I write, they would think the story made no sense until the end when I piece the whole mess together. It’s a bit like being a time traveler.
It’s a little odd, but that’s how I write best. It works for me. If you’ve read my book (Has Anyone Seen Henderson?), you will see that my process is not a total disaster. (It may be close, but it’s not total.)
I hope you immediately see that my style of writing makes a continuing story posted on a blog an absolute mess. As it is now, I am locked into writing linearly. I have to start at the beginning, continue to the end, and then stop.
This does not work for me.
I am not ashamed of the writing that I have shared with you this year. In fact, I’m very proud of it, but I feel that it’s not the way that I want to do it. I think if I had it my way, I could do better.
Think of it this way: Writing a story is a lot like building a house. You start out with a general idea, you establish the foundation, you block out some rooms, arrange the plumbing, electrical wiring, you put up the drywall, paint the walls, place down some carpeting, and then a family comes in and takes care of the fine details of decorating.
The point is that you never stay in one room for very long. The builders keep going back and forth from room to room, taking care of a narrowing field of details. Writing the story of Quin and Tannenbaum as I am now, in complete portions from post to post, is like building a house one room at a time, staying in the same room until you’ve finished all the details and then moving onto the next room.
It’s not a bad process for building a house if you don’t make mistakes or change your mind about something midway along the line.
I do that all the time.
Another fault of the blog, is how pitifully short my updates are. I release two story pieces a week of 500 words or so each, resulting in about 1,000 words a week, or about two pages. This causes the story to crawl at a snail’s pace, unbearable to even the feeblest reader. The shortest of moments in the blog can take pages, forcing you to wait for weeks or even months to read a story that could take you minutes if you had it sitting in your hands.
I feel terrible to give you guys, my beloved readers, such a pittance and hope for you to enjoy it. You don’t read books a page at a time. Books are meant to be feasts for the mind, to be eaten by the mouthful with both hands.
I give so little story at a time because I’m afraid to over extend myself and overcommit to a pace that I would be unable to maintain. Although I can write much faster than 1,000 words a week, I don’t want to promise to give more, in the event that I wouldn’t be able to keep up and disappoint the whole lot of you.
I want to give you more story. I want you to be able to pick up my stories in their full and completed state and read them with abandon, without pausing for the good ol’ author to pick up the pace a little and get more posted to the website.
My intention in writing these stories, is to eventually complete them, publish them on the blog, and then afterwards take the whole of the story and bind them together into a single volume, a book, that you can read at will.
This leads to another problem.
Let’s go back to the example of how writing is like building a house. Some of you may know exactly just how hard it is to renovate a house while living in it. So here would be the situation: after I finally finish a story, and I have enough written from the blog to compile in a book, then I take all that (which has been compared to a house built one completed room at a time) and I try to rebuild it into something worthwhile.
I have literally had the worst nightmares of my life when imagining something like that. It’s a disaster as far as a writer is concerned. To mash a story together only to try and salvage it later is a task for giants. Unfortunately, I am only 7 foot tall.
In fact, the whole nature of writing a book at the same time as writing a story bit by bit on a blog, is more mind consuming than I had originally thought. To creatively think of two stories at the same time, working on both, all the while under the constraint of deadlines, is a wee bit much to handle.
I know what you’re thinking: It can’t be that hard. Seriously, think about it. All we ask of BW is two pages a week from his spare time. Sheesh, don’t even worry about it. It shouldn’t take any more time than he normally wastes on Facebook. It’s not hard.
Well, you’re right. My normal life activities, working on a book, and operating a blog is not more than a brain can handle. However, in this world of ours, there are multitaskers, and there are monotaskers.
I am a monotasker.
It’s that pure and simple. I can’t focus on more than one thing at a time. A man once told me that lots of people think that the information has made them able to multitask, but really all they can do is to do several things badly at the same time.
If you give me one thing to do, I can do it. Even if it’s hard. I’ll set time aside, clear my head, sit down, and get it done. If you give me two things to do -even if together the two things are less difficult than the previous hard task.- then I’ll go bananas. I’ll fret and worry and lose my mind and mope around, and when I finally get around to doing the two tasks, they’ll both be rotten.
This past December, I released a book during the Christmas season, which means doing a couple things at nearly the same time. I almost gave myself a nervous breakdown.
Here’s the bottom line: I can’t work on the blog story and write a book at the same time. I can gladly do one or the other, but not both. Heavens no, not both.
Basically, trying to do two writing projects at once distracted me from either project. When I’m working on the book, the blog deadline looms in my head. When I work on my blog, I fret because I’m not getting work done on my book. If I don’t have two writing projects on the burner at the same time, I may be able to focus more easily.
This is why I want to change the format of the blog. As it is, I don’t get much work done on either the blog or my book projects, and am frustrated doing the work, and also because I want to get more done in the time available to me.
Here’s what I want to do: I want to move the blog from being focused on a story separate from my book projects, and instead turn it into more of a journal of my writing process. I will instead focus on my book projects. I will finish our present chapter in the story of Quin and Tannenbaum, but there will be no more story chapters after that.
THIS IS IMPORTANT: I AM NOT CLOSING THE BLOG.
I will continue to update regular blog posts, but they just won’t be a continuing story.
I may also branch out into some book reviews, or studies of the storytelling process, or maybe even a regular post of cartoons, like a comic strip.
When it comes down to it, the bottom line is that I want to be a person who writes books, not just a blogging guy. There are enough boring blog dudes on the internet. There are even a lot of good ones that you should invest your time into.
I need a change, and I hope you’ll come with me to see how it goes.
Will this work?
I don’t know, but it’s worth a try.