This post is for Alex Cavanaugh’s Insecure Writers Support Group (click the link for details on what that means and how to join. You will also find a list of bloggers signed up to the challenge that are worth checking out like Kate and Rebecca who inspired me to begin). The first Wednesday of every month, we all post our thoughts, fears or words of encouragement for fellow writers.
This month’s insecurity: It takes me so long to write my novels that what seemed original or timely when I set out on the journey has become dated and overused.
I spend a lot of time researching my topics. I need to read thoroughly on the topics, talk to people, get a deep understanding of issues so the connections bubble up. I write fiction, so the connections don’t have to be real, just believable. I want those nuances that will make readers sit up and pay attention, madly turn the pages with the buzz in their head saying, ‘I didn’t know that’ and ‘Could that really happen?’ My writing is a blend of science, military, thriller, tech. Fascinating topics, but ever changing. Between this and that and Yikes and S*** (and a F*** here and there), it’s taken so long to get my book out, the epiphanies have collapsed in on themselves. Here are a few examples:
North Korea as enemy
I’ve included the country name so you can see what I mean. Four years ago, did you worry much about North Korea? Kind of, but well behind other international dangers. In the last several years, that’s changed. Where I was trying to get away from typical ‘bad guys’, I’m now dead center with the norm.
An alliance between sworn enemies
I spent a lot of time coming up with two nations who hated each other, but could ally for a compelling reason. The fun was building that argument, making it believable enough it would pull readers in. Well, now they’ve done it, well before I got around to publishing.
A phrase like ‘Katy bar the door’
It was so retro, I thought it would be cool. Now I’ve read it twice in the past year, by well-read authors.
My cutting edge tech ideas are now old
Tech changes so much, almost daily. I just read about an app coming out that will allow you to point your phone at a business you’re passing and get all sorts of data on it. That wasn’t around when I started my WIP!
A restaurant I used has gone out of business
That actually happened three times. I had to zoom in on Google Earth and find a new geographically-available restaurant that didn’t force me to change the storyline. Harder than it should be.
A scientific fringe idea arrived
Think of Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak. Did you ever think of that as anything other than fantasy? When I researched, I discovered it is available for certain uses. I extrapolated (with convincing explanations) how that fit my plot line. Much to my dismay, my idea is now on DARPA’s radar. It will sound like I copied them (when they actually copied me–yeah, right.)
This is why I’m becoming a growing advocate of self-pub. If I’m a good enough writer, I can get my work to market before it becomes dates.
Has this ever happened to you?
More IWSG articles:
Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.com and TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. In her free time, she is editor of technology training books for how to integrate technology in education. Currently, she’s editing a techno-thriller that should be out to publishers next summer.