Decisions, Decisions

I don’t think this could possibly be a secret, but I love to participate in NaNoWriMo. I just really like the challenge of setting myself a big, bold goal and seeing if I can achieve it.

There are three sessions each year (April, July, and November). Normally, I only do one, maybe two, as life allows. Back in January, however, I set a goal to participate in all three sessions and even developed a game plan for each.

April’s session was supposed to be devoted to finishing the first draft of Full Circle. July was supposed to be dedicated to finishing the first draft of the Terrible Romance Sequel. November was supposed to be an opportunity to experiment with a shiny new idea.

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, then you may already know how April’s session turned out. I set my goal for 25,000 words because I thought that would be enough to get me to the end of Full Circle.

It was not.

In fact, I wrote 27,000 words, and it still wasn’t enough.

Which has thrown a wrench into my careful planning.

(Something for which I really should have planned, but whatever. It’s all good. I’m not irritated at all. Really. And if you believe that, I have a nice bridge in Brooklyn I can sell you…)

Now the July session of NaNoWriMo is right around the corner, and I am trying to decide (see…the title did have a point!) what I should do. As I see it, I have three options:

  1. Make yet ANOTHER attempt to finish Full Circle

2. Stick to the original plan and attempt to finish Terrible Romance Sequel

3. Run away to join the circus

What’s a writer to do? Let’s look at the pros and cons of each, shall we?

—Make yet ANOTHER attempt to finish Full Circle

Again, if you are a regular reader of this blog, you may already know that I’ve been trying and failing to do this for…well, for a while now. At least a year. Probably more. I thought 2021 might be the year I break through because I thought I was tantalizingly close to reaching the end.

Which I may be. I don’t know. I could be sitting right on top of the damn ending and be just too obtuse or whatever to see it. I don’t know. I can’t stress enough how much I don’t know.

But I desperately want to finish this story. There are three people in my life who want to read this book, and I feel worse and worse every day I can’t make that happen. So, though normally, I would stick this WIP in a drawer and leave it there for a while to give my brain a break, I just can’t bring myself to do that this time.

I want to type THE END on that first draft, if for no other reason than when the manuscript ends up being ignored in a metaphorical drawer, there’s a reason for it besides my failure (If you didn’t know, I let manuscripts rest for at least a month in between drafts).

So once again making Full Circle my project of choice is tempting. It is an undeniable truth that my desire to win NaNoWriMo often helps me power through a story and reach that word count goal. Maybe this session will be the session that allows me to drag myself across the finish line.

But…it is also an undeniable truth that I still don’t seem to know how this damn book is supposed to end. Or how I get the characters from where they are now to whatever that ending ends up being. How would I even decide on my word count goal? This book could need 15,000 more words. or 25,000. Or 50,000. Or more. I don’t know. What if the book is, in fact, unfinishable? (At least in my hands…) What do I do then?

Bottom line: If I make Full Circle my project, am I dooming myself to spend 31 days just staring at a blinking cursor?

—Stick to the original plan and attempt to finish Terrible Romance Sequel

I started this story last November (during NaNoWriMo, of course) and finished with 51,309 words. It didn’t have a beginning or an ending and contained only the smallest amount of plot that could possibly be considered plot.

(You may now be asking yourself, “If there’s no beginning or ending or any real plot, how the hell did you end up with 51,309 words?” And I’ll tell you…I don’t know.)

It’s been sitting in a drawer ever since December 1st. I haven’t looked at it—mostly because of the aforementioned push to finish Full Circle—but also because it doesn’t have a beginning or an ending and only the smallest amount of plot that could possibly be considered plot.

But for all the things I don’t know about this book, the Terrible Romance Sequel does have one thing going for it: It’s not Full Circle. I haven’t been trying and failing to finish it for…well, for a long time now. Maybe a fresh(er) project will produce better results because it will seem far shinier and newer to my dumb brain than its ancient counterpart.

But…the truth remains that I don’t know how to finish this story, either. I honestly don’t know if I can. My dumb brain came up with this concept—which I really do like (or did like, when I looked at it last)—but I am quite fearful that it’s not only unfinishable but also unwritable. (At least in my hands…)

Bottom line: If I make Terrible Romance Sequel my project, am I dooming myself to spend 31 days just staring at a blinking cursor?

—Run away to join the circus

Pro: Doesn’t involve me coming up with endings for any story or possibly ever writing anything ever again.

Con: I don’t actually have any skills that might be useful in a circus setting. Also—and I can’t stress this enough—clowns are f&*k!ng terrifying.

So that’s where I am. I have a decision to make with a deadline of 11:59:59pm on June 30th. I really hope to have it made before then, but as a wise man once said, “What you plan and what takes place ain’t ever exactly been similar.”

We’ll see what happens this time around.

Which option do you think should I take? What do you do when you can’t decide? What do you do when you can’t seem to figure out a story’s ending? Or beginning. Or middle? And, most importantly, what do you think of clowns?

16 Commentsto Decisions, Decisions

  1. Which of the two stories excites you more? You’re doing it yourself, so no real deadline. Jump into the romance novel if it will go better.

    • M.J. Fifield says:

      The one that excites me more is probably whichever one I’m not currently working on. 🙂

  2. This probably won’t be much help, but I say go with your gut. What do you most want to work on? What project are you most excited about? I had a handful of writing projects I wanted to work on this summer, but I felt more of a pull toward two of them, so I decided to let the others go.

    I am terrified of so many things that clowns don’t even make my short list. 🙂

    • M.J. Fifield says:

      My gut’s no help in this case. It’s all, “Don’t be lookin’ at me! I got nothin’!” 🙂

  3. Kate says:

    I think you should work on both. Give yourself half the month to work on Full Circle, and if you don’t finish, it’ll still be there in August. Then use the other half to finish the romance. It sounds like you don’t have a whole lot more to write on that one, so you can definitely finish that one.

    Good luck!

    • M.J. Fifield says:

      Work on both. That’s…interesting. I had not considered that possibility. Hmmm. Thank you for that.

  4. J E Oneil says:

    I think you should stick with your plan to write the TRS, since that’s what it seems you want to do. Or just go join the circus. I mean, clowns are as vulnerable to punches as people. So there you go.

    • M.J. Fifield says:

      Hmmm. I did not consider how joining the circus could offer up the possibility of punching clowns. Of course, I would probably have to get close enough to them to do the actual punching. That could be a problem…

  5. Liz A. says:

    I seem to recall you saying on social media not too long ago that you figured out the ending, only that means there now has to be a book 4. Which is not a bad thing, really. But it sounds like you need some time away from Full Circle.

    If it was me (and it’s not, so you do you), I would work on Full Circle for the remainder of June, put it away and work on romance sequel for July, and then see where I am in August. Although, now might be a good time for shiny new idea. Let both started works stew for a big. It might be what they need.

    • M.J. Fifield says:

      Yeah…that ending didn’t take. I played around with it, wrote some notes for it, all that good stuff, but ultimately decided that it wasn’t going to work after all. I don’t know if that’s accurate, or just my subconscious really not wanting to write a fourth book.

      I did think about the possibility of starting a shiny new story in July, but then I got hung up on the fact that I’d actually have to think of a shiny new story idea. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

      My brain never can make it easy. 🙂

  6. Is one closer to being more done than the other? I’d go with that one if that’s the case. If not…join the circus.

    • M.J. Fifield says:

      In theory, Full Circle is closer to being done. I only have to figure out the third act there, whereas with Terrible Romance Sequel, there is a lot more that’s unknown at this point. That may not mean a damn thing, though.

      The circus may be the safest choice…

  7. I’m no help here because any decision is a hard one to make. I do applaud you for having what it takes to get that many words down in any case. I couldn’t even think of penning half of that word count, partly because I’m afraid I’d run out of words and ideas, and partly (mostly) because I’m the biggest procrastinator in the world. As others have said, go with your gut, and good luck. Oh, and dolls are my equivalent of your clowns.

  8. Chrys Fey says:

    I was about to vote on circus, until I read the cons. Darn. Well there goes that option. lol

    From our chats, I believe you’re going to work on both, which is a very good plan C. This time, though, “C” is not for circus. LOL

    • M.J. Fifield says:

      I always suspected I should have gone to circus school. What a missed opportunity…