So this is it. The big one. Only actually not, because that's the whole point.
This year was going to be all about finishing things and booting them out the door, perfect or not. I've made a fantastic start. I've been tracking my writing this year, which is really interesting. I've written almost 30,000 words in three months, and it's about to be nearly 40,000 that I've posted. I'm about to release my fourth fic for this year. This is... seriously amazing, for me. (Objectively, 3/4 of the posted words being newly written is not exactly a high hit rate for 'getting previously unposted words off my hard drive'. But that's how my process works; all the words come in the editing phase.) Three of those fics weren't finished when the year started. One was, but I'd been having some significant problems with letting it go, so I'm counting it. And one fic wasn't even started. I've got five more fics lined up for posting after that, all ready to go, which takes me through to September on my Fic Per Month schedule that I'd set myself. Some of them are pretty wimpy little fics: one's 2000 words, but the rest are under 500, and one's only a drabble. So if I feel inspired to upgrade to finishing one of my other WIPs instead, I can do that. But given the energy I've expended on the big three, and in combination with cross-posting some of my older works I've already posted around the place, I'm happy to consider that they satisfy my goal.
I'm also planning to do NaNoWriMo again this year, so I'd like to have enough fic to see out the year before I hit November. Preferably some more Sherlock, because it's a great fandom and I'd love finish off my expansions to the Living Conditions universe. Or maybe some Imperial Radch, because those books sucked me in liek woah. But I've got plenty of time to think of that, because we're only about to hit April. I don't feel like surely it must still be January, like I usually would at this time of year--I feel like it must be at least June, because I've already done so much. I'm way ahead of the game. Which is good. Because the other thing I'd like out of the way before November, so I can focus properly, is... Futureproof. Oh, man, I'm sure anyone who's been following me since 2006 NaNoWriMo is bored of me trying to finish Futureproof, because... only, no... wait... That's right: I have no ongoing followers from back then. Or if I do, you are lurkers who never post or comment and have only yourselves to blame. And I love you anyway. :)
So here I go. Finishing Futureproof was the ultimate goal of this year. Finishing it, and getting on with my next novel. This story has been dogging my steps for nearly ten years. It's not going to make it to ten, do you hear me! Before November, it will be gone. Off to a publisher, or posted online, or something. Out of my brainspace. It doesn't have to be perfect, it just needs to be out of the way so I can get on with writing the next thing with a clear conscience, learning and getting better all the time. I can't throw it away. It doesn't deserve that, and I ended up literally needing psychological help after I tried. Yes, literally. I'm a writer, I don't misuse that word. Also, Futureproof's good. It's actually really good. And it's come a long way from the NaNovel I tried to walk away from. But it's got some major flaws in it that have made it difficult for me to deal with. Maybe I can fix them; maybe I can't. But if I can't, I think I need to learn to live with them and sign off on it anyway. It doesn't have to be the best thing I've ever written. It just has to be done.
I've taken the last week of March off writing, because otherwise after Ring Truly I was starting to look down the barrel of burning out. I hope Conservation plays well when I post it, and gives me the boost I need, because as of April 1st--yeah, I know, hello irony, but I'm not actually kidding--my main focus is going to be on getting Futureproof finished. Not getting overwhelmed or depressed or convinced that this is the only idea for a novel I'll ever have so it'd better be absolutely perfect, because my hard drive is overflowing with proof to the contrary. Like The Unknown Clone, and Cloud Castles, and Shifting Sands, and even The Enchanted Cello, all of which deserve to be finished. Wow, I don't think I've ever listed them out like that; I honestly hadn't realised that I have five original novels lying around waiting to be finished. I'd mainly thought about my finishing problem being one original novel and a stack of fanfic, but... five original novels! Shifting Sands has over 75,000 words!
I just need to get them done, one by one, because each one will teach me something new I need to learn so that the next one will be better. And easier. If there's one thing I've learned about getting things finished in the past few months, it's that with my work? I don't need to worry about the polish; that comes on its own, all I need to do is make myself sit down and work on the problems I see. Futureproof is first, because it's by far the closest to being there.
Current problems I see with the manuscript:
1) A very few minor holes in the narrative. No problem, I should be able to nix them now I've buffed up my filling-in-holes muscles, and I can definitely use a combo of the following four points to fill the gaps.
2) Protagonist problems. Gary's kind of limp, actually. Reactive. And cowardly. Which is in some ways how he's meant to be, because those are his main character flaws. But he does believe in things, and passionately--it's just the way that I've set up the plot, for the majority of the time, the only actual actions he takes in pursuit of his beliefs are passively waiting it out in the conviction things will turn out for the best, studiedly doing nothing when presented with a decision, and manfully not wetting himself in terror when presented with a consequence. He really needs some brainstorming to work out how to bring the reader investment into him.
3) Antagonist problems. My three minor villians are brilliant and deep, but the Big Bad is... absent. He's got motivations and actions and history and so on, what he's missing is a character that promotes any reader investment at all.
4) Tension issues. This is a big one actually, and relates to problems 2 and 3--particularly 2--and also a poor mystery/suspense writing. I wrote this while I was in my keep-everything-secret-for-as-long-as-possible mode, and I was ending up writing stuff that was not so much 'wow, what a twist' but 'what's going on, why am I reading this, and by the way what just happened and why was I supposed to care?!' Okay, so it's not that bad, but I'm much much better at handling tension than I was when I originally wrote this thing, so I should be able to fix it easily.
5) Worldbuilding emptiness. This is mostly a problem for later. I can deal with this when I've got the whole thing complete. Or not. Because it's really not that bad. But in the meantime, if I'm having trouble writing anything else, I can start writing behind-the-scenes vignettes to wake up the little grace notes that make a universe sing in the reader's mind. Writing that sort of thing is usually pretty good at waking up uninspiring plot/characters, too.
Looking at all that, it's hard not to feel overwhelmed. Some of those things sound pretty fundamental. But no really, there's plenty of good story that's actually there, I just haven't talked about those bits. And I think the foundation I've got should mean most of those things are more in the realm of elaboration and tweaking than major rewriting. I'm going to need to do some drawing and charting, but that's good, because the next couple of weeks are school holidays and I'll have the boys at home with me. Messing around on big bits of paper with them is always better than trying to hide away in my room on my laptop. I think it's realistic--if assuming some level of tenacity--to think I should be able to deal with problems 1-3 in April, with possible opportunistic forays into 4 and 5, although I intend to mostly leave them until May. I can do this thing. If not perfectly, then at least... successfully.
And that's all I need to ask of myself. Tomorrow will be here soon. This isn't a big deal, it's just writing. One word in front of the other. I'm rested and ready. Bring it on.