After posting in jdelacruz‘s journal about the nature of art — specifically, art disasters, I pondered how I’ve been approaching my writing the last few years compared to my early days.
Back in college, before Slayers Trilogy, I would routinely burn through 29 flopped fanfic ideas before I hit the 30th which worked out for me. Even FWLS was like this; I had a file called FWLSPIT.WP which had aborted stories that never made it to completion. Of course, the public never saw the 29 rejects; they were stored quietly away, out of sight.
Then Trilogy came along and I started moving the writing process away from a private thing and onto the web — live drafts as I work on them, with very little post-writing revision that would confuse folks who have been staying up to date. When it works, this system is absolutely terrific; I can get comments on a draft in progress, which helps guide my direction and ensure that the end result is high quality.
…when it works.
What happens when it doesn’t work? Slayers Starboard springs to mind; I got really far into that before it exploded. UE hasn’t officially exploded, but it’s going through the same problems. I have this huge public works project out there for everybody to read, even before it’s completed; hell, UE only has two episodes under the belt of a multiepisode arc.
I can’t quietly push failures aside — even the project I aborted before it got anywhere, Slayers Wildcard (remember that?) had a web page and an announcement and a partial draft up. The way I’m writing now has its advantages, yes… but it has disadvantages as well. Ones which could be stifling my creative muscle, since the price of failure is so much higher, while the CHANCE of failure is still quite normal.
I’m not really sure what to do about this. Having a live audience to help with your work is a bit like crack; it’s an addicting high. I think it’s a very servicable model. But it’s presenting problems too, since not every project rolls along as swimmingly as Slayers Trilogy did.
My initial thinking on this is that I should allow for having multiple series running at once, depending what’s hot with me and what’s not, and rely less on the wild multi-day-a-week paragraph long updates that are expected of me and more like OTHER fanfic authors do… you write a complete episode draft, post it, THEN do revisions.
I still want the web and the journal involved in the process — I have very little love for the FFML. But perhaps I’m putting unrealistic expectations on myself that I can maintain the crazed pace set on previous projects.
And, as proof that I absolutely still value the modern, public approach to creativity, I’d like to ask for your opinions. Not a whiny “Will you please remember I exist if I don’t post stories as often?” but how would you approach this problem? What possible solutions are there, what issues am I missing or blowing out of proportion? I think this needs some serious thought if I’m going to get out of my creative doldrums… because I’m suspecting that the holy grail of web-based draft writing that popularized me also has painted me into a corner.