Mornin’, folks. Since I’m still relatively homebound due to strep and general depressive malaise, I keep spamming on here when not plunking away in Apple Pages; this state of events has led me to ponder what I choose to call “Prince Syndrome.”
“What the hell does that mean?” you say. Well, as most of you probably remember, Prince (or the Artist-Formerly-Known-As-) was almost ridiculously prolific during the 80s and 90s. He just kept churning them out, though quite a lot of his material was in disguise. He was cranking out so much stuff that it got to a point where he was literally tossing done or almost-done projects to other artists while he continued to hammer away. Ergo, I choose to name my current situation after him. Maybe that’s just self-aggrandizement, and it’s probably not entirely accurate, since he at least, you know, finished those things. But, hey… I finish my projects. Eventually… *glances shiftily from side to side.*
Anyway, Prince Syndrome – or perhaps I’ll call it Writing ADD – is characterized by constant “Wouldn’t it be cool if…” moments, followed immediately by “But that really doesn’t fit in this story…” moments. To reference my previous post regarding my writing style, it’s like I’m plonking along, steadily transcribing whatever character-of-the-moment is whispering in my ear, when there’s a sudden burst of static and some other personality announces “And now for something completely different,” Monty Python style. Then, while I might have been utterly focused ten seconds before on one idea, now at least half my brain is processing this new idea.
As an example. I finished off Blogs from the Basement Volume 1 on Sunday. After a very brief refractory period, I opened up the word processor once more, make a couple formatting tweaks to one of my previous manuscripts that had a slightly ugly-looking PDF, and set back to work on my “main” project (Judas Iscariot as a modern-day monster hunter, for those who are interested.) I get about five pages done, when suddenly I’m thinking of a scene that absolutely must be in Disciple of Sorrow, the followup to Disciple of Grief. Unable to get it out of my head, I save my (meager) additions to Ioudas and open up Sorrow‘s manuscript. I scribble in that scene, but while I’m doing that, I am struck with inspiration on how to progress Riptide(a bit of short fiction I’ve been toying with for a while.) Again, I proceed to a stop point, switch over to that file, begin scribbling. Something that comes out of one of the character’s mouths ends up sparking the thought “Hey, what if a real vampire invaded a goth/vamp club, killed several people, and then pinned it on one of the “fake” vampires?” That progressed to picturing the whole thing being presented like a police statement or deposition. The name Fang Bangers just wouldn’t leave my head, either. So I close down Riptide, start up a fresh document, and start working on that. Then something one of the characters there says mutated in my head into something that’d be perfect for Blogs from the Basement, Volume 2, so yet again, new window opens. Then I spent the next three days ping-ponging between all of these, all while still pecking at my pen-and-paper RPG ruleset and a “holy text” being performed on demand for my muse. Suffice it to say, this is not very effective; I started the weekend with one finished manuscript, one at the halfway point, one in fragments, one that’s mostly scribbled notes, and two pet projects. Come Thursday, I have zero finished manuscripts, one still at the halfway point, some extra fragments, some more scribbled notes, three pet projects, three pieces of short fiction that are between halfway and mostly done, and ideas bouncing around to resurrect two “dead” manuscripts.
This is mildly annoying. Were it not for such distractions and random project-switching (or creation), I could probably knock out the rest of Ioudas in a week or so; as it is, I’ve completed two smaller projects and one full-length novel since beginning it and now have even more script fragments littering my hard drive. Mind you, this is just the ideas I don’t let go of; there’s generally five or six more “What ifs…” that cross my mind and go straight to the junk bin before the brain stops and fixates on one. Practically guaranteed to drive someone absolutely batty.
Then of course, while all this is going on, there’s my central problem (and second-least favorite part of the whole creative process): Naming things. I’m awful at coming up with names. I know it. They’re either bland, overly descriptive (and thus not easily rolled off the tongue) or have some arcane relationship with a one-off comment somewhere in the text that people either will miss, not consider important or otherwise gloss over. At one point Woken was called Ulato (a reference to the villain’s true name, which is pointed out precisely once in the entire manuscript and is really pretty irrelevant in the sceme of things.) I’ve been told Ioudas is “dull and plain,” and “no one will know how to pronounce it.” I’m not necessarily jumping for joy about For Her… or Blogs from the Basement, either. And we’re not even going to get into the problems with Fang Bangers (aside from the fact I’ve since discovered it’s been used in several other mediums…) So, in addition to having all these random projects cropping up all over my Manuscripts folder (and that’s before we get into my pen names/alternate genres, who have their own messes going…) half of them either have “Leprosy Zombie Manuscript”-type names or awful, generic things like “Fang Bangers Manuscript” for filenames. More madness.
All things considered, it’s probably enough to drive someone to madness… if said someone wasn’t technically already there. (Yep. I’m certifiably “disturbed,” too. Fun, isn’t it? XD) So how do you folks deal with it? What do you think about market saturation, hop-skip-jumping between projects, keeping focused on a given project while ten others are calling your name, and the ever-elusive “What do I call it?” moments? (And hey, if anybody wants to make suggestions regarding Ioudas or Fang Bangers, I’m all ears. 😉 ) Until next time, folks…