Or at least, if you're going to work on a book for more than fifteen years, make sure it's fifteen years in a row of constant work. Don't take multiple-month breaks because you don't feel inspired.
My notes for The Victor's Blade are a mess. And they're a mess because 1) there's so many of them (content developed over the course of fifteen years will do that), and because 2) there's so many versions of them. I guess content developed over the course of a bajillion breaks will do that, too.
I mentioned in "5 Things I Hate About Being a Writer" how many different ways I've created to keep track of my book ideas. It's a lot. Long outlines and short outlines and chronological sequences of events and timelines... it was a mess. It was too much. So lately I've been taking some time off writing to organize my notes. It makes it a lot easier to write when I know where I'm going. And it's a lot easier to know where I'm going when I can just easily glance at my notes.
Glancing at my notes hasn't been easy: not when I need to skim through at least three different documents just to see if there's some idea or plot point I need to touch on. Remember how I mentioned how hard it was to keep up with subplots? Yep. I'm dealing with that right now.
I almost feel a little guilty that my notes are all over the place. I used to think if an author didn't keep the details of their own stories straight, it meant they didn't care enough about their stories to begin with. Now that I am that author who keeps uncovering conflicting ideas in her plot plans, it's safe to say I don't subscribe to that thought any more.
At least I'm looking for those conflicting details, right? Right? Ehhhh...
A lot of the stuff I'm planning won't even make it into The Victor's Blade, just like how much of what J. R. R. Tolkien planned for The Lord of the Rings didn't make it into the trilogy proper. There's a lot of worldbuilding stuff that would be silly for me to include in this particular story, but it's no less vital to, well, build the world of The Victor's Blade.
But sometimes I worry much of my book is too complicated. What if this plot point doesn't make sense? Will readers understand what this character is trying to say? Are all these details weighing down this arc?
For now, I'm trying not to worry about that. I have to focus on one problem at a time.
And lately, that one problem is cleaning up these over-complicated notes. Once I do that, I can solidify my outline. And once I know where to go, writing is a piece of cake.
In theory. I may still hit a brick wall of writer's block. Ughhhhh...
One thing at a time, Jeannette. Just one thing at a time.
From Him, To Him