I touched on part of this last month, when I complained about how many of my short story ideas required research, but that’s only one facet of the problem:
I’m having difficulty having fun with short stories.
What I’m working on right now? Requires both research and complicated plot-juggling, a murder mystery told in two strands, one leading up to the death, the other away from it. “Chrysalis”? Was research and more structural difficulties. The various possibilities for next month? Varying degrees of research, but also plot confusion and (in one particular case) a determination to tell the bloody thing entirely in Germanic-derived words.
Too much damned work.
“Once a Goddess” was fine, because the big problem that stalled that one for seven years was almost purely a plot thing, trying to figure out where I wanted the story to go. Once I had that, it was clear sailing. “The Gospel of Nachash” was harder; I’m not sure I would have gotten through that one when I did had I not been getting input and ideas from kniedzw and kleenestar. Again, more research, and more thinkiness being buried deep into the story, plus (again) linguistic stupidity — this time, an attempt to mimic the style of the King James Bible.
I want to have this story, the one I’m currently working on. I just don’t want to write it. Here it is, almost 2 a.m., and once again I’m only now about to get started. I have a specific reason for pushing on this one, or I’d see if shelving it helps; then again, the whole idea here is to figure out how to get back into regular short story production, and quitting doesn’t help much with that. But I need more ideas that are just fun, ideas that can be good stories without requiring such heavy lifting. I wholeheartedly believe heavy lifting is good for the writerly soul, but I don’t believe work done without it is automatically bad. Sometimes the stuff that pours out easy as oil is your best work.
It would be nice to have more of that.
Is this a phase, a difficult uphill stretch on my journey through my craft? I’d like to think it signals some kind of improvement in my writing, and that on the other side of it I’ll find myself once again able to occasionally just knock something out. Unfortunately, it feels more like my e-mail inbox: I’ve already dealt with the ideas that were quick and easy, and all that’s left in the mental queue is the stuff I’ve been putting off precisely because it is too much work.
Blah. I’m cat-vaccuuming now, whining about this story to avoid actually writing it. I need to hire some West Coast or early-rising UK friends to send me chiding e-mails; it’s too easy to avoid accountability at two o’clock in the morning. Once more into the breach, etc etc, and we’ll see if we can’t have some fun tonight.