So here we are with a New Year. 2016. A new year, a fresh start, a blank slate. Right?
So many times, like you, I imagine, I’ve heard and seen people make commitments that you know, in your heart of hearts, that they won’t be able to commit to.
“I’m going to do [insert this/that].”
And all you can do is tune out slightly and rest your eyes, a fixed smile on your face as you nod your head in agreement.
Why do these resolutions and promises fail? Is it because they’re overextending? Attempting to reach way too far with unrealistic goals, considering they’re starting from zero?
If I started out this year with a goal in mind, let’s say I wanted to strive to get my black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Well, I’m a one stripe blue belt and have been for almost a year now. Is it possible for me to go from one stripe blue, to black in the 365? No way! Why? Because it’s way too big a goal.
So, what’s the answer?
Like with Temporary, it’s down to making small, seemingly tiny, unrelated progressions, that all, hopefully, add up to a much bigger picture.
Earlier in December I finished a short story entitled Shell. It took me a while to conceptualise, write and, of course, rewrite (and rewrite, and rewrite). It was a great side project to work on as I allowed Temporary to continue to percolate. It kept my mind and imagination active, my writing muscles working, and, most importantly, it gave me an opportunity to step away from Temporary and its world and characters I had become so familiar and invested in. So much so that I probably was no longer able to see the woods for the trees.
Sometimes taking that step backwards, removing yourself from the project entirely for a while is exactly what you need to see the faults you otherwise couldn’t. I’m hoping that this (now extended) time away from Temporary will afford me exactly that.
So how does Shell start my 2016 as I mean to go?
Well, for the first time ever I’ve submitted a piece of fiction that I created into a competition. I not only wrote it, sought feedback, and rewrote it (a lot), but I submitted it. It may get rejected, it may not. It may do well, it may not. But that’s not in my hands anymore. What was in my hands, what I was in control of? Getting something done in the first place in order to try.
A lot of people won’t even allow themselves to get into a position to try for fear of failure.
Rejection isn’t fun, but I’m sure neither is being on your deathbed regretting all the things you wish you’d tried to do.
I recently listened to a Podcast Interview with writer/producer, Meg LaFauve, about the amazing Pixar movie, Inside Out, featured on the great series, The Q+A With Jeff Goldsmith. It’s a fantastic interview and well worth your time, if you’re at all interested in Pixar’s writing process. Their discussion made me excited to revisit Kenny and Gray in order to (re)address their story, as I attempt to up the agency of Temporary’s characters as well as the core stakes throughout, concepts that Jeff and Meg talk about in depth as they discuss Inside Out.
Shell was always the first step of 2016.
The next step? Rewriting Temporary once more, trying to pick up on the faults I couldn’t see before and, hopefully, trimming it even further.
The first quarter of my 2016 is dedicated entirely to this. Once this is done, I’m hoping it will be in a position where I can confidently research literary agents and publishers in order to start trying to get it out there into the wild.
It’s all these small steps, as long as the process unfortunately is, it seems, that all add up to the bigger picture.
Clawing there an inch at a time may be the only way for me to get there, but I’m willing to try.
As an aside to this, the launch date for my new podcast, Sweet Story Bro, has finally come and gone!
The podcast is going to be a fun way for me to read and experience a wide range of stories in order to review them in depth on the show and, on a more personal note, will act as a great exercise to further my understanding of story structure, character arcs, etc.
Novels, movies, video games, comics; anything that is storycentric is eligible for discussion and review!
Please, if you have the time, do check it out. It would mean a lot, and I’d love to know what you think.