As I think I mentioned here (and if I didn’t well, I thought it awful loud), I started writing a novel on the morning of the first day of LTUE. The title was The Eye of the Creature: A Novel of B-Movie Weirdness, and my proclaimed intent was to have it finished, published, and ready for sale at Westercon. I had a purposely vague idea of where I wanted it to go, as I intended to pants the entire thing (that’s creative-writer-speak for “fly by the seat of my pants,” as opposed to outlining it): The protagonist would be a B-movie expert on a road trip to find a supposedly “lost” movie after the feature’s creature appears in his dreams. Also, the sidekick would be barely disguised version of Larry Correia.
Things went swimmingly for the first 30,000 words or so.
Then they didn’t.
Now understand, I don’t believe in writer’s block. Which is to say, I don’t believe it is a thing in itself, but a symptom of something else. In that way, writer’s block is like a pain in your foot. You shouldn’t just shrug and say, “Oh no, it hurts.” You should find out the cause of the pain: Did you step in a bear trap? Do you have gout? It there a small dog attacking your ankle? Are you succumbing to flesh-eating bacteria? Are you missing a leg and being tormented by phantom limb syndrome? What?
The same with writer’s block: If you find yourself unable to continue a writing project, why? Is there a problem with the story? Is there a problem with you? Figure it out!
So I pulled back. I sent it to a couple of friends to read. I watched some B-movies (when in doubt, go back to your primary source of inspiration). I spent time pondering exactly what the image was in my head that had gotten me excited to write it.
And finally, after a month of stalling, I finally realized my problem:
I’m not good enough.
No, this isn’t some sort of crisis of confidence. I think I’m a damned fine writer, thank you (I probably think I’m better than I am). But the story that was growing in my mind… It involved an utterly alien entity with no sense of sequential time or beginning/ending (sort of like the Prophets/wormhole aliens in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) being literally trapped in and by the narrative of the lost movie and needing to be freed from it. Along the way, then, we’d be exploring such things as the nature of narrative and its relation to the human consciousness of beginnings and endings, the character of an alien intelligence which had no such consciousness, the power and need of humans to understand existence entirely in terms of causality and narrative…
And my skill set simply isn’t up to that boundary-breaking task. Furthermore, I’d rather not write this book than write it poorly.
So. What to write next? I know I keep pushing back my promise to Nick (my Number One Fan), who wants to see the second Avalon & Company adventure, already, but there’s a seasonal book I wanted to do in time for last Christmas and didn’t allow myself enough time, so I really ought to get cracking on that.