Chuck Wendig exhorts writers to “Finish Your Shit.”
I’m good at finishing things. What I’m bad at is knowing when to quit.
Things I should have quit earlier than I did:
* two jobs
* underage drinking
* all gaming by 3am
* a PhD program
* my marriage
I inadvisably stuck them out because I have a compulsion to finish shit. And now I wonder if I should be quitting a book.
I started writing it as soon as I finished Kraken. And then I interrupted it to write Arroyo. And I interrupted it to write a book called Fallout with Lisa Henry,¹ and then I interrupted it to write the first draft of a story I promised someone (but which came back from my beta needing *ahem* extensive revisions so it’s back in the to-do pile now), and then I interrupted it to write a short story that comes out next month, but under another name, because absolutely no-one dies in it and it’s sweet enough to cause a diabetic coma. So now over a year has passed and my actual story that I’m supposed to be writing lies moribund in a pool of frothing, sticky words. Forty thousand of them.
Stephen King says the first draft of any book should take no more than three months. That’s probably good advice. Over the last two weeks I tried to pick up my story and wash it off but it’s stretched out of shape and I can’t work out what it’s supposed to look like. Maybe what I want to do is just beyond my current wordsmithing ability?
I mean, 40K . . . do I just trim the ends off neatly, edit the sucker ruthlessly, and call it a novella? Do I put this draft aside as a bad beginning and write it over, fresh, from the beginning? Do I say, “Fuck it” and scavenge for parts?
Or am I a big quitting quitter who quits, and I should push on through the hard yards?
¹ Oh yeah, btw I wrote a book with Lisa freakin’ Henry! Please insert fangirl squeal here at decibel of your choosing. Seriously, this is a thing that has happened. I am never going back to the reality I belong in, and you can’t make me!