So I’m left with an odd unit of time right now, while I’m waiting on notes from from my agent on Dahlia #2, and CP notes on my SECRET PROJECT (okay, it’s Plummeting Fortunes) and I’m generally a bit cagey. Dahlia Moss #1 just entered the world, and I would like very much to know how it is doing, which is a common writer reaction. The trouble is that the data does not follow until much later, and so mostly, like with all things in publishing, you just wait.
I’m good at waiting, actually, which is one of the reasons Publishing and I get along. But I did want to do something with myself, so I decided I would start on Another Project.
This is folly, certainly, because I have enough projects going. To count: Dahlia #2, Plummeting Fortunes, my parenting noir novella, and Dahlia #3 is certainly around the corner. But for various reasons, I can’t work on any of these right now, and so why not start something new, says I. I like starting new things; it’s fun, and it makes me feel powerful. Even if I don’t finish it, or come back to it much later, so be it. That’s not the point. The point is creating.
I’m still coming to the Hot Air Ballooning.
So, I had this idea while I was playing a new video game: Tales of Zesteria. I love JRPGs, and even if they’re slightly out-of-fashion right now, I think they’re sort of perfect. Zesteria is a prime example of the genre, complicated subsystems, crazy characters, labyrinthine story. I found, and still find myself, desperately wanting to read a book that hits the sort of fantasy tropes you see in the JRPGs. Crystals, and airships, and elemental power. Usually a corrupt government. Usually a betrayal or two. Also, they are ultimately always about forming unconventional families, which as a gay dude, perhaps hits me a little harder than most.
I really love JRPGs. And so I found myself wanting to write a little love letter to them, especially since no one else seems to have gotten to it. I made a list of tropes I wanted to hit, and then started writing. 2,000 words and a couple of hours later, and I have the start of something. Something I like.
I’ve never been in a hot air balloon, but I have this theory about landing one. Any hot air balloon landing that you can walk away from, at least with no injuries, is a good hot air balloon landing. If you landed 500 feet away from your intended destination; who cares? The important thing is that you entered the sky and now you are alive on the ground. The final destination is not the point. The point is that you soared and landed. Once in you’re in the sky, you go where the balloon wants to carry you– and the key is that you land at all.
That’s how I feel about novel writing, and that’s also my advice for anyone who’s starting NanoWrimo this month. Not to be all hippie-dippie about it, but don’t get hung up on where you want to go. It’s about the journey. I wrote 2000 words of what’s supposed to be a love letter to JRPGS, and what I have is, kind of wonderful, at least to me, but also weird, and dark, and extremely unlikely to make anyone think of JRPGS at all.
That is okay. It’s probably better than okay. It’s probably good. The truth of it is this: no one cares about your point of inspiration. No one cares about the novel you wanted to write. If you set out to write a silly comedy about a croquet tournament and it ends up becoming a meditation on divorce: who the fuck cares? Books don’t write themselves– but they definitely tell you want they want to be as they go. If you feel your croquet book turning into something darker, or funnier, or weirder, or sexier, or whatever different thing than what your intended goal was– that’s great! Let your book go where it wants. Listen to your story– not the idea of the story you have in your head. The story in your head isn’t perfect anyway. It’s just an idea. Fuck your ideas; follow the flow of the actual thing.
That’s my NanoWrimo advice, at least from this pantser. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I apparently have some humorous YA horror to work on.