I’m right in the middle of a writing drought right now. Not because I don’t have anything to write, but because I don’t dare to embark on a new story, and so I don’t allow myself to think about the plot. I have an idea, a concept (actually, a few ideas and a few concepts), but nothing concrete yet. Because I know that once I’m taken by an actual plot, a scene, a rush of emotion or a character’s voice I’m done. I will fling myself into the flurry of writing a 75,000-word (or more) novel and find myself unable to extricate myself until I’m done. That might take a month or two, in which time I will obsessively clock pages and word count and live, breathe, dream and basically function within the realm of the story, as the characters (yes, plural – writing is a schizophrenic process).
I’m done with UNTIL MORNING, and took the plunge by sending it in for a competition organised by Quirk books. I’d cross my fingers if I didn’t believe it would create a counter effect by jinxing my chances. I’m one chapter away from the end for 15 MINUTES, and I still don’t have any idea how to end it without making it completely cheesy or frivolous. Yes, the self-doubt monster strikes again. In fact, I’m in the stage where I am convinced it’s utter crap that my uncertainty is holding me back from sending the manuscript out for the Asian Scholastic Book Award. Seeing the blurbs of the past winning entries, I don’t think I have a chance of securing this. They want stories set in Asia, and while 15 MINUTES is set in Asia I worry they’re not as Asian-themed as it should be. Or thought-provoking or profound or meaningful as it should be. What if it’s deemed too fluffy, or the characters are too Westernised? The winning entry will receive a publishing contract, but there is only prize. The runners-up will get … a plaque. So basically, it’s all or nothing. I don’t want to bank all my hopes on this, put in the time and effort and money in printing (six copies of a 300-odd page manuscript is no joke) and sending it in only to be disappointed.
I know, I know. I shouldn’t enter a competition with such high hopes, but who enters a contest without hoping to win?
Ah, well. At least if I try out, I can assuage that part of my brain that goes, “What if…?” Better to have taken the risk than risk not taking the chance, after all.
In the meantime, I should really finish up that last chapter for 15 MINUTES.