A Year on Saturn

...is approximately 29.7 Earth years.

"A Year on Saturn" is the website of Shannon Fay,
freelance and fiction writer.

On Finshing Things

Posted on: May 6th, 2016 by Shannon Fay No Comments

Last week I was in Frankfurt, Germany. I had time to kill and a Museumsurfer card, so because it was right next to the German film museum I visited the Museum Angerwandte Kunst, which wikipedia describes as a museum that ‘focusses[sic] on the perception of currents and developments in society with a special emphasis on design, fashion and the performative element.’ The main exhibit on was Stefan Sagmeister’s ‘Happiness.’ It was an interesting exhibit even if it had that empty, ‘don’t worry be happy’ vibe I associate with TedTalks (Sameister has in fact done several talks on his ten year exploration on what makes people happy. I actually do think there’s lots of good advice in there: I am a total proponent of keeping a diary. But the videos also have the edge of ‘And once you gain your superpowers that come with being a privileged person, you can use them to make your corporate culture stronger!’).

Annnnnyway, in one part of the exhibit you have to ride a stationary bike in order to power a set of neon lights that will reveal some pearl of wisdom. I got on a pedaled, going all out, but nothing happened. I was getting a little frustrated and feeling silly pedaling away while the other museum goers watched me. Finally I gave up and stopped pedaling.

And in that moment the sign lit up.


This hit home for me. I had been so close to powering those lights, but if I had given up a few seconds earlier I might have missed them completely.

Unfinished projects haunt me. I worry I am always moving onto the next shiny new thing instead of sticking to the path. Like, earlier this week I learned about Story a Day in May, an informal challenge to write a story every day in May. Awesome! I love it! I’ll be realistic and set a goal of writing 15 stories in the month. And it’s been going great- I’ve written four flash stories this week (I have also discovered Story a Day, which has lead to the creation to two of my four stories. I’m not usually ones for prompts but the ones here are really good). I love writing short stories (the shorter the better) because you get such a quick hit of satisfaction. Not only can you finish them more quickly than longer pieces, people can read them more quickly and give you feedback sooner too. And, I’m pretty good at it, so sticking to a medium I know I have some skill at is comforting.

But even then my bigger projects were there in the back of my mind. And in other people’s minds, too. When I skyped with my family back in Canada my dad asked how my novel was going. “When people ask why you moved to the UK, I told them you’re there to get inspiration,” dad said. “So I expect a book when you come back.”

And the thing is, I have written a rough draft since I came over here. It just sucks. Writing a readable draft seems like an even bigger challenge than getting the words down on paper the first time.

There’s a Chuck Wendig post titled ’25 Things Writers Should Stop Doing.’ Number one is ‘Stop Running Away.’ Wendig writes:

You want one thing but then constantly work to achieve its opposite. You say you want to write a novel but then go and write a bunch of short stories. You say you’re going to write This script but then try to write That script instead. Pick a thing and work toward that thing.

Which brings me to my next worry: I have so many things to finish, how do I know which ones are truly worth pursuing? Am I using project B just as a way to put off project A, because project A is so much bigger and scarier?

Maybe. But sometimes you have to move the little stones out of the way before you can get at the boulder. Back in February I signed up for a free online screenplay course, as I love movies and always wanted to learn more about writing them. But then I got interested in something else and lost interest. And now it’s really bothering me. So I’ve promised myself that I’m going to take the time to actually finish it this week.

Here is my plan:

May- Write short stories, finish screenplay course

June- Write story bible for novel (research, character bios, outlines, etc).

July- Finish online forensics course

I will probably keep writing short stories in June and July, not just because I love writing them but also because they actually do contribute to my income and I gots to eat (I have been very fortunate as a writer in that there’s a specific niche I write that pays well. No, I am not Chuck Tingle, but please feel free to spread that rumor around).

Well, at least I can pat myself on the back for finishing this blog post. Now, off to the virtual classroom to learn about story structure!

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