February 10, 2012

Which WiP to Work On?

As this post's title suggests, I've been struggling lately with a really big, really irritating question:

Which WiP will I give my time and attention to?*

I hate this question. And worse, I hate the fact that it's even a dilemma. See here's the thing: I have been doing a lot of reading post-Christmas and I've been enjoying different kinds of books. I alternate between dystopian, sci fi, romance, and paranormal, which has been wonderful but also a little confusing where my WiP is concerned. Usually I try to read books that feel similar to what I'm working on in my writing. Usually this works really well in the inspiration department. Except lately I'm having major WiP confusion. Kinda like this whole, 'Which door do I choose?' issue.

And just as in Sarah's case, neither door is being overly helpful. See, they're both begging for my attention these days. It would be so much easier if only one WiP was tempting me, but no, I've got both screaming for my attention. My brain feels like it's being pulled in two completely different directions. How in the name of all that is sane does one work on the following:

WiP #1: YA Science Fiction at the same time as
WiP #2: YA Contemporary Romance (a modern retelling of a Jane Austen novel)???**

Normally, I feel pulled toward one or the other depending on my mood, but never before has it been both. Until now. And sometimes these opposing tugs will come in the same afternoon. My sister and I have been discussing our respective WiPs a lot this week (8-10 hours on the phone since Monday) and between the two of us we've hammered out a lot of details in our stories. Seriously, these 'chats' have been invaluable. Talking over the finer points of my sister's story is making me want to work on WiP #2. A lot. Yet I'm still feeling drawn toward WiP #1. Here's the reasoning behind the dilemma:

WiP #1
  • requires a whole lot of world-building and believability in it = exhausting
  • writing a complex stew of sci fi/dystopian/romance/mystery = exhausting
  • keeping in mind that I'm dealing with a futuristic society and therefore my language, technology, ways of doing things/thinking about things has to reflect that = exhausting
  • not embarrassing the heck out of myself with the above combinations = exhausting
  • the fact that I am so close to finishing this thing and moving on to revisions and sharing it with someone(s) who can tell me whether it blows chunks or not = appealing
  • this story is really interesting me and I feel like with each passing day it gets more and more compelling, especially with all of the new twists I've come up with = appealing
  • I've heard that agents are gaining more interest in queries for YA sci fi = appealing

And then I saw this earlier today (in reference to what they're looking for):

"Space – while dystopia is running out of steam, there’s still some potential in outer space. The trick here is to use that backdrop simply as a frame for a great human story, either MG or YA. If you go too sci-fi you lose readers who aren’t die-hard fans of the genre." (from agent Sarah Davies at Greenhouse Literary [Source post])

My heart beat a little faster because this pretty much describes to a 'T' what I've been aiming for with my WiP. Call it Sci Fi Lite (in a similar vein to Beth Revis' Across the Universe books).

WiP #2
  • this story is not nearly so far along as the YA sci fi story
  • in many ways I feel like I'm cheating on WiP #1 while working on this story
  • am I avoiding the really hard work that is before me with WiP #1 by working on this story (ie. filling in the gaps, finishing it, revising, sharing, and querying the thing)?
  • it feels so much more organic -- it just flows from me without all the stress of WiP #1
  • it's a retelling, so the skeleton is already in place and I'm just putting my own spin on it
  • it will be so much quicker to complete, revise, share, and then query than WiP #1
  • Contemporary YA Romance always seems to be popular with readers = easier sell

Total dilemma. So I decided to talk to my husband about it. I told him that often I'm feeling both stories at the same time and that sometimes I just want to work on the easier one even though I'm closer to completing the tougher one. I think I wanted someone to give me permission (even though I don't need it) to bounce around between the two based on my mood. I think I felt that because I'd already dedicated so much time and energy to WiP #1 that I needed to just you-know-what or get off the pot already. I just wanted to be okay with doing what feels right, and that's working on whatever story I'm currently in the mood to work on.

Henceforth it won't me a matter of 'either or', but 'both and'. And I feel a MILLION times better giving myself permission to just go ahead and do that. So what's my goal now? Finish at least one of these WiPs before our trip to Scotland in May (yes, Scotland -- more on that another time). 

All I can say is, I've definitely got my work cut out for me....
*I know this is grammatically incorrect, but since I'm getting a little wild and bat shiznat crazy with my WiPs, I might as well go the same route with my grammar, don't you think? Word.
**Eureka!! YA Sci Fi + YA Jane Austen retelling = Jane Austen In Space! I've got dibs! It'll be like Cinder by Marissa Meyer. Kind of. Only a whole lot weirder. 

"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a...spaceship?"


  1. Gaaaaah... you're definitely in a pickle. <---I don't think I've ever said that before. ;)

    I say finish the Sci Fi! That's my vote. Think of what you'll learn while you're world building... take on the challenge first... then when you're querying that, you can easily whip up the contemporary :D

    1. Well, at the moment the Sci Fi is winning (that's what I'm working on today), but we'll see. Tomorrow it could be the other :-)

  2. That´s great that you can talk to your sis about your writing and bounce ideas :D

    It seems that you really want to tell both stories! At some point, I wondered if too much creativity could actually kill creativity since I suddenly had so many thoughts in my heads which were totally unrelated to my draft. But...there were just thoughts though, fleeting and flowing around. Nothing very precise like you have. I think you´ll do your best writing when you work on the one you want to work on and...now my trick question: which one do you think you will have done before your trip to Scotland?

    1. It has been really great having her to share ideas with, and just basically flesh things out a little better.

      I'm honestly not sure which it will be. After writing this post, I felt the urge to work on the sci fi and am making some strides, so who knows? It wouldn't take a whole lot to finish writing the romance, so it could be that one. Time will tell I guess :-)

  3. I have this problem all the time so what I do is I pick one and focus on it but I continue to work on the other as well. I call it my back up WIP. It's the one I go to when I have writers block with the other or have some great ideas I just need to get down. Sometimes the backup WIP becomes my main WIP, it always works its way out in the end.

    I actually just finished the first draft of one of my backup WIP's (I have a few backups-I'm all over the place) that has been my backup for the past three years. I kind of feel sad that I don't have it to go back to anymore. So it is perfectly fine to work on two projects at the same time. And without even knowing it you will choose which one you want to focus on more.

    1. That's kind of what I was thinking. Isn't it better to be working on something rather than nothing because you're stumped? I think so. Today I'm in the mood for the sci fi. Maybe later on this afternoon it'll be the other. And that's okay with me because it means that both are getting tackled. Just so long as my Contemporary Romance doesn't start to feel Sci fi and vice versa :-)

  4. Hooray for ideas! Good luck getting one finished!

    1. Thanks! I suppose there are worse things than having too many ideas, right? :-)

  5. I think it's great that you are working on both at the same time. I get so focused on my current ideas that I can't even start another until one is finished. Missing out on the reckless abandon of drafting is the hardest part of revising for me. Maybe you could focus on finishing the first draft of the sci-fi and then "write" the contemp when you are revising the first one?

    1. That's a good idea. As it turns out I was in the mood today to work on the first WiP (the one that's further along) so that's good. We'll see, I guess :-)

  6. SPACESHIP AUSTEN. Yes. Do it. If you write it, I will figure out how to cosplay it, ok?

    1. I think that would be hilarious and unbelievably challenging. And Space Austen cosplay??? Definitely! :D

  7. Oh my goodness, please do Jane Austen in space! That would be amazing. :) I'm totally in the same situation--a shiny new idea has gotten into my head and won't let go, and I think I'm going to go for it. Good luck!

    1. I was totally kidding about that, though it might be kind of fun :D I think ultimately you have to work on what you're dying to write right now. I spent most of this week puttering around and not getting anything done because I was beating my head against a wall. I wasn't in the mood to work on the first WiP and as a result I got nothing done. Now that I've allowed myself to pick and choose, I actually found it removed a lot of the stress associated with writing and I got a lot accomplished today. So see, it's already working :-) And as for your shiny new idea: Go for it and good luck!

  8. I used to be a one project sort of gal, but now I usually work on at least two, sometimes three because I am a crazy lady. I like having two different projects, because if I get stuck on one, I can switch to the other. Good luck on your projects!

  9. Contemporary would be an easy sell but don't feel like you have to jump on the trend wagon. There's a market for sci-fi at the mo like you've pointed out and the best advice when writing is to follow and write the story you love and want to. I get the feeling that you may like W.I.P #1 more but I could be wrong.

    At the end of the day, follow the story you're enjoying writing the most. :)

    I wish you the best of luck!


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