If it’s not fun, why do it?

So say those great philosophers Ben & Jerry – and something I am thinking of more and more in this new year.

For three years I’ve talked a good game, this concept of “being a writer”, but with not much to show for it. A website, a burgeoning list of works in progress, fragments of ideas, incomplete manuscripts.

Okay, for the purposes of my argument I’m ignoring the rather wonderful anthology of short stories, Chinese Whisperings: The Red Book, available to buy now. Obviously, that’s something quite significant to show for the past few years…

In the past couple of days I’ve had something of an epiphany (how appropriate for today) which might explain why my output has not been so stellar.

It’s all down to enthusiasm.

For some of my writing projects, I have lost enthusiasm. Take for example The Long Watch. I have two unfinished manuscripts there. The first book is based on an idea from when I was 16. And it remains an idea that appealled to a 16-year-old me. The follow-up is the work of a 29-year-old man trying to come up with a sequel to a childhood work. This is probably why I infinitely prefer the second to the first. What to do with it? Radically rewrite it, taking what remains of the first that I like? Or do I do as Julia suggested – since it was the idea of a 16-year-old boy, why not pitch it at 16-year-old boys? I’m not sure if a YA novel would require a YA hero, but that’s a possibility. In any case, and with a touch of regret and apologies to those who really liked it, The Long Watch will go on the backburner for a while.

Another project that has seen the wind leave my sails (pun fully intended) is Captain Juan. I have lost the thread of the characters, in fact I’ve not written any of it for over a year now. The ship still sails, under the watchful eyes of other Captains, until such time is I rejoin them on the bridge.

2010 is a fresh start. A blank slate. I’m going to wipe clean my WIP, and replace it only with those projects and ideas that currently excite me. If it excites me, it will show in my writing, and in turn I hope that shows in the reaction of you, the reader.

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One thought on “If it’s not fun, why do it?”

  1. I’ve never had a WIP list. Not sure why – perhaps because up until recently I’ve only ever written short stories and never really given too much thought about where they go once they’ve been put down in first draft.

    What you say about enthusiasm is so correct. There were times when CW really felt like hard work – that was when the enthusiasm ran low. Other times, regardless of the work load, it just flew by and the process was enjoyed.

    The most telling experience for me about enthusiasm was my NaNo project. It was a great project in 2008, but picking it up in 2009 – it sucked big ones, and it was like dragging myself, on hands and knees over broken glass. There is nothing more awful than writing when you *have* to, rather than writing because you want to and derive enjoyment out of it.

    So glad to hear you have started the year off with a blank slate – tabla rasa.

    Perhaps three years in we’re all a little wiser than we were. Part of me wonders if this is the year of ‘consolidation’?

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