Too Much Of A Good Thing

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2021-06-20 18:00:00-04:00 No comments

I'm still oh-so-very-close to the end of draft 1 (more like draft 1.4) of Unmortal, and am now fending off the two great dangers that come with the transition between phases of any great project. The first is to hurryupandgetitoverwith. The second is to start entertaining, with ever-increasing vigor, what the next project(s) are going to be. What's great about Danger #2 is how much of a pleasure it is to have a solid, welcoming sense of what to jump into next, feet-first. What's bad is how that keeps you from staying on target and finishing what you already have.

It's worse when you have something like seven possible future projects all cagematching each other to death for the chance to be next in line.

Most of these projects I've documented in the last Rogress Preport, but at least one more has bubbled up since then, with artwork (if not a title) to match. Wonderful and terrible, at the same time! Doubly terrible when you say to yourself, human life being as limited as it is, I hope I actually get the chance to tackle all these projects.

Experience has taught me these things tend to burn themselves out in short order, once you let them. The initial thrill of having something new to play with wears out once you toy with it enough. Sometimes it burns out if you feed it aggressively, because that provokes a counter-reaction: I shouldn't be working on this now. The trick is not to prod yourself into a guilt spiral, just find a way to let the excitement taper itself off naturally.

I also find that once you start actually thinking about an idea that seems initially exciting, the real problems of the idea reveal themselves and become their own natural dampener. That initial burst of enthusiasm soon turns into the problem of actually having to tell a story, to avoid the easy pitfalls that go with driving blindly after an idea with one's foot to the floor. And so the brakes kick in, and that feeling of "that's right, I have other work to do" calmly takes the wheel.

At any one time I have something like thirty or forty possible ideas for a story. Half of those, I can take right off the top without blinking: they're ideas that sounded good at first blurb, but the more I reflect on them the more I feel they're just Not My Thing. I keep them around anyway, for the same reason we have all that junk in the kitchen drawer, out of the forlorn hope that one day I'll have a burning need for an Allen key of exactly that size. One-fourth of it is more my thing, but still too shapeless or fragmentary to do anything with; it hasn't yet touched enough other material to assumed a workable shape.

That leaves one-fourth or so being viable. That's about where I am with this pile of seven or eight projects: they're the best candidates out of many, many more. The problem is not the embarrassment of riches, but keeping the discipline I know I need to do justice to any one of them at once. You really can only write one book at a time — at least, write it well.

Tags: creativity future projects