Choose Your Own Adventure

Read: Make More Work For Yourself.

But I’m actually kind of looking forward to it. writing stuff today gave me two things to consider – they were both about how to end this story, and I’m not at all sure which one I want to do.

One ending is the one that I’ve had planned ‘from the beginning’, which means from the point that I promoted a random character who I originally just put there for ‘flavour’ to the main villain. I put a lot of thought into their backstory and motivations for doing what they do, but as the draft has played out I realised that I had no clear way of getting them into the story for the role I wanted him to play, and that when he did come in there was no way of making it a comfortable transition. part of that is because of this word-limit I’m trying to make myself stick to, which I question the wisdom of on a daily basis. the other part of it is that the draft lends itself to a very different outcome, if looked at as a story.

that is to have this other character, who has become more or less the central focus of the plot, which was not really my intention, take over the role of main antagonist – and the thing is that it fits, really well, in a very archetypal sort of way. this character is very much the Shadow of the main character, so it makes narrative sense that they would become the main character’s major obstacle in terms of story. it just feels fitting, and it uses the material that I’ve produced in the draft thus far.

the problem with trying to decide between these two outcomes – well, there are multiple problems. for one, I’ve had the idea of the first outcome for ages, and that’s where my mind wants to take me, where my memories are directing me to go. also I put a lot of work into it, and it feels like if I don’t stick to it then all of that work was for nothing.

another factor is the fact that, well, I don’t think that you should judge the first draft of a story as a solid basis for the finished product; I know I’m putting limits on myself, such as the word-limit, that produce a certain kind of creative context, one where I am limited in what I am allowed to do, and to be honest I’m pretty sure that this is not at all how you’re supposed to write a first draft at all. I think a first draft is meant to be absolutely limitless in order to permit yourself to test out everything that you want to test in terms of ideas for the story and where it could go, and that’s not what I’m doing. this is mostly because of concerns outside of the draft, like the fact that I’m going to have to start looking for work soon and I want to use the time that I have before then to get as much writing done as possible, because as I’ve said before, writing a draft is like a full-time job, and any other work you do takes your energy and focus away from it, and can kill momentum pretty quickly. also because I have this idea that I want to submit it for publishing as quickly as possible, to make up for lost time or something, because this was meant to be my ‘year off to do writing’ and I only spent half of said year being as productive as I wanted to, in terms of writing anyway. so there are all of these preconceptions that I have, and it’s not like they’re all just silly, the ‘finding work’ one in particular being quite a serious consideration, but it does feel, when I look at it, like it’s just a lot of fuss over some arbitrary decisions that I arbitrarily decided to stick to. the only issue is what it would mean if I changed my mind about them.

so on the one hand, I’ve got the ending that I wanted originally and feels like is fighting against this draft to be realised, and on the other, I’ve got the ending that fits really well with this draft and steps on the face of my original ending and tells it that it’s less than worthless. I like them both, and they both create problems for me. what is the solution?

write both, of course.

This is a draft. this is the time where I get to play around and get stuff done. yes, I want to keep to my word-limit; yes, I want to get this done quickly, but I’ve got two very viable options here and I don’t want to just pick one at random and disregard it without even seeing how it feels. these kinds of conflicts have been the general cause of all of my writer’s blocks, and until today I’d never seriously considered the possibility of just doing everything that I wanted to do. as I repeat endlessly to myself, hoping that I’ll listen: ‘solve you writing problems with writing’. This is another way to do that, and I think it’ll work.

so obviously each ending isn’t going to eat into the same pool of 41k words that I have left to go, according to my latest update; they’ll be considered separately. and I’ll have both, and I’ll see which one takes. and that just makes sense to me; it seems so obvious now. 

hopefully this is also a way to keep the momentum going, because I got some very good writing done today. Hopefully I can also think of a way to make use of all the work I’ve done no matter which ending I ultimately choose – or ‘what’ ending, I should say, because who knows what other ideas will present themselves to me from this point on. Hopefully I will be able to do ‘what the story wants’ as well as what I want; hopefully, at some point, there will be a convergence. But for now, I have two endings to write. it sounds like a lot of work, but really it’s not; it’s just the very end of the story, the climax, because things have been set up – unwittingly on my behalf, but it could be a subconscious effort – so that I could use either ending and they’d both work about as well as you could hope for, especially considering that this is a first draft. so we’ll see.

and also, my deadline of finishing on the 20th is drawing ever closer. so it’s time to step up the production; I don’t have to use all 120k words that I’ve allowed myself, but still, it’s eleven days to go until I want to be ‘done’, so however many words it takes, I want to actually be ‘done’ by the 20th.

there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so. so think happy thoughts.

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