Wednesday, June 30, 2010

DECISIONS, DECISIONS--or lack thereof

"We can try to avoid making choices by doing nothing, but even that is a decision."

~Gary Collins
I started writing a new manuscript.
It's an adult story.
But I write YA, so I should stick to that.
No, apparently I write adult too.
Or do I?

It's easy for me to start an idea and watch the words pour onto my computer screen. The imaginary minion on my left shoulder kisses my cheek and tells me it's fabulous, keep writing!
The minion on my right shoulder slaps the side of my head and screams, "What do you think you're doing? This is garbage!"

So I send the first ten or so pages out to trusted writer friends and wait. They will be honest. They will tell me if I'm wasting my time.

Meanwhile, I open my first YA story and decide to tackle those revisions that I know will make the story stronger. And it works. And I smile. And it feels great. And I remember why I write.

Then the emails about the adult MS start hitting the inbox, and one writer (who I have the utmost, bow-down-because-I'm-in-the-presence-of-greatness respect for) says, "Karen, this is one of the best things you've written."

And I tear up. And I smile. And it feels great. And I remember why I write.

Then I realize I have to make a choice.

Do I revise the old YA manuscript? (I love the characters and story so much it hurts.)
Or do I work on the adult story? (Writing every sentence hurts because it's filled with so much love.)

Decisions, decisions.

I attempted to spend time on both, but it doesn't seem fair to either story. Plus, I worry that the voice from one story might carry over to the other by accident.

So instead, I've been procrastinating. Waiting for a sign. Waiting for the minions to whisper in my ear or smack me upside the head with a steadfast decision. YA or Adult.

I don't know. But I can't keep doing nothing. I have to decide. Because I miss smiling, and tearing up, and feeling great, and I like remembering why I love to write.

What about you? How do you choose between project ideas? Do you stick to one genre or do you branch out? Do you know that feeling I'm talking about when you've just created a new scene, character, or line that gives you "that feeling?"


  1. powerful writing..

    and it was a decsion to say that... but not much of one...

  2. I think you should write while it's fresh, you can edit when you're having writer's block or something. :) But ultimately you should do whatever you feel strongest about.

    I have plans for things in multiple genres and age groups. I think it's beneficial to try new things, helps us become more well-rounded. So never be afraid to branch out!

    Good luck! :D

  3. I am probably one of the most A.D.D. writers around. I have more projects going on than I could shake a stick at. (Hmmm. I might be undermining my stick-shaking ability.)

    I kind of bounce from one to another, across genres and universes, depending on how I feel that particular day. Although, I only have two book-length ideas going right now and most of my writing is in the realm of short stories.

    Yep, I definitely know the feeling you mean... especially when I nail a “perfect” line.

    Good luck with the indecisiveness!! If you can’t bounce between the two, you’ll just have to pick one, but you can do that! We believe in you. :)

  4. Go along with the one you want to do most. It's motivation that brings out the best in our writing. o whaatever motivated you most you should go along with. There will always be time to go back to your old or new work. I primarily write YA but sometimes I do write things in other genres as well--so you're not the only one. :)

  5. Darling... these are the moments where writing has us second guessing, wondering and worrying. It is okay. You are not alone.

    The genre switch is not that bad... in my opinion never hold back the urge to write whatever your fingers, mind, and heart are leading you to. It is those three elements that a reader has faith the writer will follow.

    Remember that the old work is there, waiting, but it can wait; and the new is ready to be explored. Only if the new is NOT AT ALL what you want to even consider should you stop from writing...even then I question it ;o)

    Don't be afraid or worried...your characters are right there with you, traveling the journey alongside you - as are we.

    Visit My Kingdom Anytime

  6. I understand your dilemma. I have 5 WIPs and two are adult, one YA, one short story, and one mystery. I can't stay in one genre to save my life. Argh.

  7. YAY for writing!!! YAY for your writerly friends to tell you they love it!

    So I have to say this one is always tough because my heart is seperated into mulitple stories but if I find that one is giving me trouble then I move on. For right now my first novel is in revision hell and since I have a sexy new idea I've taken that on, however the days have been cloudy due to hurricane weather and I find my Adult novel (I write YA as well) itching at me, because he is a serial killer and is awfully demanding. This is where it gets tough... which do you choose??? Go with your gut!

  8. You know which one I'd choose, darlin'. :)

  9. I believe you can definitely branch out, as long as you love what you're writing. I've had the same problem, except it was within the YA genre -- and ultimately, after agonizing over it for days, I saw which one I really loved.

    It's a difficult decision to make. I'd say go choose the one you love more. If you choose one, but continually think about the other, then maybe that's the one you want to work on. :)

  10. A pox on choices! I never make them. I always work on everything at once . . . but alas, you are right eventually even I have to choose a focus story. Unfortunately I have no advice on deciding which. if it were two ideas for a story I would say write the first ten or twenty pages of both and then go with the one that has the strongest pull but if you're already in the editing stages of one . . . I just hope that you eventually are able to finish both.

  11. Decisions, decisions, indeed! Hope you figure it out. I'm one of those writers that has to work on more than one project at a time so I'm not one to help choose between two of them. At the moment I'm working on a mystery, an urban fantasy/paranormal romance, a ya sci-fi/fantasy rewrite, and a Sekrit Novel which is in the regular fantasy genre. And some ideas keep coming up and there are others that will get worked on in 2010 for sure.

    Good luck to you with both novels and the decision you make for which to work on first.

  12. Oh, gosh. It's so hard picking between projects! I think you've just got to go with your gut. But I know what you mean. When a new character pops into my head, especially if the voice is strong, I've got to jot down a few scenes, try it out. There's nothing wrong with going down a new road for awhile, just to see what's there. I think writing a first draft of something new, and then going back to edit an old project, can be beneficial for the old project. Talk about new eyes. But working on them at the same is hard. I can't do that anymore. I've got to stick to one, but that doesn't mean I can't write down ideas as they come to me!

  13. I am firmly entrenched in the adult mystery/suspense genre for my novels and I use short stories to branch out into other area's. But I definitely know what you mean about "that feeling". It's addictive!

  14. I know exactly what you mean! I have an MG novel and an adult novel, and an idea for a YA novel that I'm sooooo excited about. I know it's probably not the brightest thing switching between the different age groups, but I how can I help it? I write what I love.

    My solution for new stories and wait until NaNoWriMo to start writing (well, I start the research, character building and rough outline in October). Then at some point in the spring I go back to much needed revisions on earlier works. I know some people who can work on different MS simultaneously, but since I write for different age groups I can't get away with that.

    But so cool about your new novel! It's the new ideas and passionate first drafts that keep us excited, isn't it?

  15. You don't have to stick exclusively to adult OR YA. There are plenty of authors out there who first start writing YA and then come out with an adult book or vice-versa. You should write what speaks to you -- and, if revisions aren't working on the YA MS, then work on your adult WIP. There's nothing wrong with having another project to fall back on when you hit a roadblock with the one. (As it sounds, though, you haven't hit a roadblock for either one, so kudos to you!)

    As for me -- well, ideas are so fleeting with me; it's hard to grasp hold of them before they lose their allure. I feel as if, sometimes, I simple snuff out the glow of appeal from an idea because I grab onto it too quickly. Maybe sometimes it's better to wait and let the idea stew inside your head awhile -- or that's how I'm thinking for myself right now.

  16. I say go for it! Write the new words and edit the old ones later.

    How fun to have a shiny new idea!

  17. Personally, I'd have to finish the work on the YA before I could move on, but that's just me. I like to finish things. If your heart is more into the adult. Go with it. Best of luck making a decision, but you are right; you can't keep doing nothing.

  18. Since you've finished one and it's not that you're avoiding it, I think you should let yourself have fun with the new idea that's got you excited. Then when that slows, you can work on the revisions. As for genre-hopping, I do it, too. It's the story, not the genre, that compels me. Let the story take you.

  19. Oh yes, I understand "that feeling"!

    I was in the same spot you were a while back. I made my decision by writing what I felt most strongly about, the one that I was so immersed in that I didn't think about the other one while writing it.

    Good luck!

  20. Decisions make me cry and I'm always agonising on what to work on next. I have a couple of old ms I'm always wanting to re-write but I also have heaps of awesome ideas. In the end, I just go with my gut and pray that I've made the right choice.

    I usually pick the new idea, especially if it's crying to be written. Don't worry what genre it is, just write from your heart.

  21. To choose between projects, I follow my heart, because that's when I write my best. Congrats on trying a new genre!

  22. I think I wouldn't choose. I would work on both for a bit, until one truly takes over and it seems okay to put the other aside for as long as it takes. If you are struggling with deciding, it is because the stories have not yet told you which one should be the focus.

    (Also, would this be the first revision on the YA? that would matter to me somehow.)

    Lovely choice to have to make!


  23. Shelley,

    Nope, not the first revision on the YA. It's been through an overhaul before it dipped its toes into the query pool a year ago, but I pulled it out because I had ideas for a rewrite. Now that I've finished my 2nd story I'd like to go back and work on the 1st. But that 3rd is tugging at me too. :)

    Thanks for all the great feedback and support everyone!

  24. You know, this is actually such a great blessing, I think. Because you have more than one fabulous story to work on. I'm so excited for you. I don't even know which to tell you to work on. Hm, maybe you should let me read it for myself and find out. Hmmmmmmmmm..... ;)


  25. Just stopping by to say `hello' and to see how you're doing. It's good to hear you have two great projects brewing. I'd say go with your heart & instincts as to which one to work on first. The other project will always be there. So excited for you, Karen. xx

  26. Don't think what is right or wrong. Just write.

  27. writing accross genres definitely seems as though it can be tricky, but having the creativity to accomplish it is very cool. Go with the hot hand, whatever is pouring out at the moment go with it, don't force either one, it seems at that point is where you might run into trouble.
    It's some what like with my music, I don't go in thinking ok, this podcast needs to sound this way or that, I just follow whatever comes out creatively, and let the music take ME on a journey.
    The good thing for your "issue" seems to have more pros than cons, if you come to a block in your new MS you always have your revisions to go back to so you won't just sit there looking at a blank screen frustrated trying to write.

  28. Oy. I am TERRIBLE at choosing between projects. Which is probably one reason I am not writing anything right now. Can't figure out which one to stick with. Good luck figuring it out!



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