Killing Babies and Closing Doors

At any one moment I have dozens of ideas. But there’s only 24 hours in a day.  The trick is to make the most use of what time there is, doing only the most profitable, the most important, the most passion-driven you can do in the present. Then moving on to something else when needs change. And when you discover you a have a product that can no longer live up to your expectations, you have to let it go.

I know I’m good, but I’m not content to be merely good. I want to be great. I want to be excellent.  I want to live up to my fullest potential and beyond, to ensure everything I write reaches the height of my abilities and take them one step further. (That, and make real money, which ties back into skill and craft.) Keepers of the Flame, the second story and first main entry of the American Heirs series, could no longer do that.

It became a monster. Over a hundred thousand words in, I found myself with a bloated behemoth rushing towards a climax that was neither satisfying nor realistic. There was just too much stuff in there to juggle. Finishing it became tedious. Publishing it would have been a travesty. And editing it…would mean effectively restarting it.

I had to start that novel from scratch again. It was the only thing my conscience would have allowed. And yet…I was still too close to the old story to do it right. To do right by it. I had to do something else, find a new way to do things, one that would be true to what I want to be.

So I wrote other stories. One was decent, sort of, and maybe would find a home online. The other again suffered from the same curse; in trying to do too much it accomplished nothing, leading to a hollow plot, bland characters and a boring climax. Not what I want to be remembered for.

I went back to the drawing board, consciously re-applying the lessons I had to re-learn about my chosen craft. Maybe I have something now. I hope have something now. A military science fiction/space opera series in the vein of Marcus Wynn’s gunfighter noir, Jack Murphy’s full-auto military fiction and Peter Nealen’s vision of third generation warfare with a strong dose of high tech, space travel and social commentary. I’m closing the doors on most of my transient interests, going back to my roots as a writer at the intersection of combat, technology, politics and the soul. It’s like exercise, deliberately tearing muscle fiber apart to get them to regrow, stronger.

Not that I’m discarding everything. Other stuff will be recycled in other ideas, other approaches, other stories. I’m already thinking of transmedia franchises: serials, movies, video games. That’s all in the future, but it seems to me like the less I put into my stories the more options I generate. Interesting, that.

I’m applying this approach to the rest my life. My daily routine, planning, work, other writing projects and more. It’s another everyday transformation, and all I can say is, it’s going to be interesting times ahead.