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Big Ideas

Have you ever had a story idea so big that it scared the hell out of you?  I don’t mean big as in epic, doorstop novel big, or sweeping family saga big, rather a concept that’s just ... well ... head-bendingly big. 
Well, I’m wrestling with one of those at the moment. 
Various elements that have long been close to my heart have quite rapidly come together into the premise for the novel I’m currently working on.  And then they spun on beyond that, weaving together disparate elements of other novel ideas and fragments of ideas and presenting a whole new direction for my writing. 
It’s vastly exciting. 
The trouble is, it’s just so ... BIG ... and I’m swinging wildly between fizzing excitement and trembling terror every time I wonder how the hell I’m going to pull it off.
Maybe it’s precisely because these are issues and themes that are so close to my heart that it has me trembling.  I want to do them justice, you know?  I want to do it well.  And I’m scared absolutely rigid that I’m just going to end up with a big muddle.
I know, I know.  Feel the fear and get the hell on with it!  I am, honest, and I’m definitely feeling the thrill as well as the fear, but the dread that I’ve taken on more than my abilities as a writer can deal with is ever-present.  I think, maybe it needs to be: I need that inner quake to keep me wrestling and untangling and thinking hard (really, really hard) about how to make this work.  Without the fear, maybe it wouldn’t feel urgent and important enough that I do.
I’m kind of hoping that the more I work on this book, the more I throw down those ugly first-drafty words, the more cohesive it will become, on the page and in my head.  
I should, perhaps, caveat this and say that I don’t mean this as a whinge!  Think of it more as a pressure-value release.  In the same way that I sometimes need to run around the house yelling, “I’m rubbish, I can’t, I can’t,” and then I usually feel better and sit back down to get on with it again.
I’m hoping this will have the same result.
Thanks for listening.


( 20 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 22nd, 2011 08:16 am (UTC)
Have you ever had a story idea so big that it scared the hell out of you?

Oh gosh, yes! Several times! One of these story ideas has been scaring me lately, in fact. It's an old idea I'd love to return to someday, but ack, I'm so afraid it'll come across as a convoluted mess better off shelved, the plots and characters are that numerous and interconnected. I know I can't really know if the "convoluted mess" part is true unless I start working on this again, but it still scares me regardless.

Anyway, what I'm trying to say is...you are definitely not alone with feeling this kind of fear. Good luck conquering it so you can churn out this head-bendy novel inside you! ;)
Sep. 23rd, 2011 07:37 am (UTC)
Thanks! It helps to know you're not alone sometimes, doesn't it. I think I may have to re-title my WIP 'Head-Bendy-Novel' ;O)

I guess it's these challenges that keeps us growing and learning as writers. As with most things in life, without challenges, it would all be rather dull.

Good luck with your 'Big Idea'. Just a thought - had you considered merging some of your characters (could a single character fulfill the role of two?) I merged 2 characters in the book I revised for an agent back at the beginning of the summer, and it worked loads better as a result.
Sep. 23rd, 2011 09:37 pm (UTC)
I actually have merged some characters (one is even three characters in one), and deleted others. But...this series still feels hopelessly convoluted to me. Oh, well, I guess I'll worry about it more whenever I think I might actually work on it again.

I absolutely agree about challenges. I always try to make sure there's some kind of challenge for each book I write, even if some of those challenges aren't as head-bendingly scary as others. (Haha.) Not only does it help me grow, but stop me from getting bored. ;)
Sep. 26th, 2011 09:33 am (UTC)
"Not only does it help me grow, but stop me from getting bored." Lol! Very true!

Maybe your head-bendy book will start to untangle itself somewhere at the back of your brain while you're working on other things. Funny how our subconscious sometimes gets to work on things, so that when we revisit them, elements have occassionally dropped into place without our realising it.

Still waiting for that to happen with mine ....
Sep. 22nd, 2011 11:15 am (UTC)
'We are writers, and we never ask one another where we get our ideas; we know we don't know' *
User readthisandweep referenced to your post from 'We are writers, and we never ask one another where we get our ideas; we know we don't know' * saying: [...] Before I began writing this post I read Jenny Gordon's latest entry, on Live Journal. [...]
Sep. 22nd, 2011 11:24 am (UTC)
Once again, we are singing from the same song sheet. I was genuinely startled when I read your post. You will read me & understand why. :)

I didn't read any of it as a whinge - on the contrary. You are clearly excited about where you are going. Brilliant! Go for it! Frankly, what else can you do? It's what writing is about - those 'Wow' moments when we are assailed (yes!) by ideas or concepts that are almost scary.

I have a very warm feeling at the moment. Marry that to a, 'But how the *7h^f£# will that bit work?' thought, & you have it!

Onward & sideways. There is naught else we can do...
Sep. 23rd, 2011 07:41 am (UTC)
Funny how these synchronicities come along, isn't it? I'll be heading over to your blog shortly.

I am definitely excited about where I'm going - long may it last! Thanks for the cheering on.

And you're right - we have no choice but to listen to our muse (call it what you will). It's glorious when she's singing, and I'm so glad yours it too.
Sep. 22nd, 2011 04:31 pm (UTC)
You can certainly do it. I think that we are continuosly growing as writers and in this growing our mind searchs for some bigger.
I understand the fear perfectly!
Sep. 23rd, 2011 07:42 am (UTC)
Thanks so much for your encouragement :O)

"I can do it, I can do it, I can do it," becomes a bit of a mantra, doesn't it.

You're absolutely right - without these challenges, life would get very dull.
Sep. 22nd, 2011 05:23 pm (UTC)
Sounds to me like you have quite the good handle on this. Carry on!
Sep. 23rd, 2011 07:43 am (UTC)
Yes Boss ;O)

I think a 'Big Think' about it all is called for. Make that a 'Really Ginormous Think!'
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Sep. 23rd, 2011 07:45 am (UTC)
I had a funny feeling I wasn't alone :O)

I'm very excited about it all, and am determined to face that fear - one baby step at a time.
Sep. 22nd, 2011 06:11 pm (UTC)
Yes, and exciting, isn't it. I have a space opera like that. Going to tackle it sometime.
Sep. 23rd, 2011 07:46 am (UTC)
It certainly is exciting - I'm kind of hoping these ideas come along at the right time, when something inside you knows you're ready to tackle them. I have to remind myself of that every time I'm tempted to run the other way, screaming!

Good luck with your space opera when the time comes.
Sep. 23rd, 2011 05:13 am (UTC)
Yes, but I am sure you can handle it. The best advice I can give is just to start writing and see where it takes you.
Sep. 23rd, 2011 07:48 am (UTC)
Thanks for the encouragement. I have something like 30K words down already, though I'm not entirely happy with them yet. I'll hopefully be spending some quality time sorting it all out over the next few days.
Sep. 23rd, 2011 07:22 am (UTC)
Yes, I have felt it. I think a majority of my ideas feel BIG. I wonder if I have the skills to pull it off. One idea I know I don't have the energy or skill to wrestle it to the page...maybe in a few years. It happens. You find ways to make in manageable or set it aside and let it marinade a bit longer.
Sep. 23rd, 2011 08:07 am (UTC)
You're absolutely right about the marinating part - I've certainly done that with other novels. I think we sometimes have to go there anyway and give it a try to find out if we're up to writing a particular thing at the moment, or whether it needs to go back in the drawer for a while. That said, I'm so excited about this idea that I hope I can figure out how to make it work.
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Sep. 29th, 2011 11:48 am (UTC)
You're so right. In between the frustration and head-knotting angst, there certainly are those moments of sky-diver-y exhilaration too.
( 20 comments — Leave a comment )