Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Q Is For Quandaries

I'm going to warn you now. This isn't going to be a very good post. Not that anything I've ever posted here has been some kind of high literature or anything. It's just that I'm kind of winging it today. Actually, strike that. I'm totally winging it today. I signed up for the A to Z Challenge a while ago (like in February) and had a set list of topics worked out well before the beginning of the month, Q included, but as my brother will tell you, I've still had problems settling on topics for certain letters (M, I'm looking at you). You should see the topics page in my notebook. It's just one big blue and black scribble now. Maybe I'll write about this! Maybe I'll write about that! Oooh! This would be good!

Because here's the thing: I can't make a decision.

Unless that decision involves buying books. Then I'm probably a little too good at making a decision. Especially since that decision always ends up being 'yes!'

But in other things, I have a much tougher time. Take yesterday for example. Yesterday I wore pajamas while I worked on Second Nature. But I really wanted cake so I spent so much time weighing the pros and cons of going to the store to get a damn piece of cake. All day long I did this. Cake is good and I want cake. But I don't need cake. I need to work. But I'd work better if I had cake because cake is good and I want cake. But I don't need cake...

There are just some days when I can't stand being in my head.

So if I have that much trouble making a decision on something as minor as baked goods, then how the hell am I supposed to make a decision about something that really matters?

I am, of course, talking about writing. I have these stories, these manuscripts, and I really do want to do something more with them than print them up and stick them in three ring binders. I would like them to be in actual book form and I would like people, even if it's only friends and family, to have the opportunity to purchase said books and maybe even enjoy reading them.

And there are so many possibilities out there to make this happen now. Traditional, indie, self publishing, whatever-- but which one do you pick? How do you decide which one is right for you?

So I keep researching. I've read books on the subject. I've read articles and people's blogs about their personal experiences and I'm no closer to making a decision than I've been at any other time.

But that's only part of it. The other part is what to do with the manuscript itself. Effigy is a long book. A very long book. Not George R.R. Martin long but still, it comes in at 195,506 words. There are some publishers out there I think would be a good fit for me but they don't want anything over 120,000 words. Making my book right for them would involve me splitting Effigy into three separate novels. I've considered this before (Of course I have. I've considered just about everything and I just can't decide what's best.) and some days it seems like the smart choice but then the next day, I've managed to talk myself out of it.

Maybe that's the real issue. I make decisions all the time. It just sticking with what's been decided that's the problem.

I don't want to make the wrong decision. I love this book and I don't want to screw this up. Consequently, I'm currently so paranoid about making the wrong decision that I've decided to not decide. I know that this, in itself, is a wrong decision but it feels like a safer one than picking a path that just might be the wrong one.

So the question today is: how do you make decisions? And I don't necessarily mean writing. I mean anything. For example, how did you decide what to eat for breakfast this morning? Eenie Meenie Miney Mo? Rock Paper Scissors? Dart board? Pro-Con list? Tell me. Because I really want to know.


  1. Oh I completely understand where you're coming from. I have a hard time with decisions and because of that,I've fallen behind on this A to Z Challenge. I usually will weigh pros and cons, then I freeze until I just plunge in with whatever feels slightly better to me. Not exactly logical and I've been bit more than a few times, but I can't seem to help it. I end up at the same place with every decision. :)

  2. Listen to your gut! I have also fallen into the poor decision maker category, but I have found that when I listen to my gut then I will always make the right decision. It is easier said then done I know but it's worth a shot! Good luck!

  3. Oh, that's tricky. With my books, it can be so hard to just let go and dive in with something that's so close--like our stories. At the same time, I can't let fear overcome me, and sometimes I just have to jump in with both feet. For me, I pray about it and decide what I think feels best for each story. Sometimes I just have to do something to find out if it's going to work. I had to decide with my current novel what to do with length--it was supposed to be ONE book with three parts. I was so determined to write just a standalone story. Then I was halfway through part 2 and I realized I still had so much story to tell, and it was way too long. Now I'm writing two books instead of one.

    Sometimes it's just making a choice to step forward and seeing if a door opens or if it slams in my face. If it slams in my face, I reevaluate my options. :)

  4. Do what I did: Surround yourself with like-minded people. And when I say "like-minded," I of course mean "as indecisive as... some sort of thing." Because my wife, friends, and family won't make a decision, it forced me to start making them. Sometimes I can even make one without someone else's indecisiveness podding me on.

    When it comes to all things writing, however, just lay out all the options. With enough thought (or a quickly approaching deadline), the best solution will eventually bubble to the surface.

  5. That's right, I said "podding." Maybe I should have pondered my decision to click "Post Comment" a little while longer...

  6. Sometimes you can spend to long thinking with your head and just need to go with your heart !


  7. Yup. Decisions are hard. All it takes is 30 seconds to change the course of one's life with one. So, I make a pro and con list. When I'm done weighing it, I make a vision board of what I want to manifest in my life...and I keep adding to my vision baord thorughtout the days, weeks, and month.

  8. Many times I follow the four-step program for the indecisive. Eeny. Meeny. Miney. Moe.

    I, too, can talk myself into and then out of most anything.

    In regard to my writing, I've joined an awesome writing group that helps with all things writing. I'd highly recommend one, even one that's online.

    Critique partners are also a blessing - IF you can find one that is honest and helpful. Big if. With one or a few of those, they'll help you make decisions about your wips. Especially editing and paring down your darling.

  9. I'm indecisive, unless it matters. If something will make a difference in a person's life, hours of pondering go into the decision. Ultimately it becomes a matter of prayer.

    Mundane things? I wait until my body leans. Believe it or not, if you hold a food at arms length your body will automatically lean toward or away from it--depending on what it really needs. I guess the key is getting in tune with your mental leaning. =)

  10. Instincts can often be helpful for solving quandaries. :) Unless you have very bad luck, in which case you better ask professional folks for advice.

  11. Okay, you brought up a lot of things in this post and I have some answers for you. However, first a question. Are you in critique? Or do you have access to other writers who are willing to read your ms. and give you critique? This is critical. As a writer we cannot see our own mistakes.

    Your ms. is too big. If you can cut it and make three books maybe that will be good but you don't want to leave readers hanging. That will only make them angry. So no Tolkien style endings. Each book must stand on its own. I know that is tough but with good critique it is possible.

    Family members are good for encouragement but do not make good critique partners or editors. They love you too much.

    After critique you must hire an editor. Then after you make the changes ask another writer to read through looking for misspelled words, etc. Don't skip this. Many editors will work with you, ask them.

    I tried the traditional route for a long time. Now, many publishers are asking writers to self e-publish, it their sales are big enough then they will take them on. This means learning how to promote. I have some answers in my pages section at the top of my blog.

    Amanda Hocking started to e-publish her urban fantasy novels a year ago in March. She has nine books available to date. She earns $100,000 a month and has just signed a 2 million dollar 4 book agreement with a publisher.

    That makes the decision simple.
    N. R. Williams, The Treasures of Carmelidrium.

  12. I completely understand where you're coming from. There's just so much to think about as an author when it comes to the business and process of writing. It really is a quandary!

  13. I'm sort of a jump in with both feet person.

    As for my novels? I sent off one, got some GREAT agent feedback, but it wasn't picked up. Now I'm back at the drawing board for that particular project. Which has been fun. You can do the same thing with yours. Send it as one big thing, if that doesn't work, break it into three.
    But never send out anything until you've gotten a LOT of feedback.
    That's my only advice.

    Other than that? Sometimes squeezing your eyes tight and jumping in is the best way to start.

  14. Thanks everyone for the perspective and advice. It's much appreciated.