I participate on a forum online. It's one of two locations where I posted As The World Dies mini-chapters on a fairly regular basis for over two years. It has some of the best zombie fiction written anywhere and I have met some really cool people through that forum. The writers are all different ages (16 on up) and obviously have a great love for the zombie genre.
But the forum is plagued by unfinished works. In fact, a lot of fan fiction or original works on the Internet seem to be unfinished works. I have noticed when I speak to other aspiring writers, they tend to float from one great idea to the next, leaving a long trail of manuscripts with no ending (or even a middle).
When I share with people my aspirations to be a writer in print, the author of good solid reads, and have a successful (by my definition) career, I get either the "Wow, that's awesome!" response or the "Oh, well, lots of people write books that NEVER get published. It's a rough business. You shouldn't get your hopes up. Everyone can write a book..." response that seems to go on forever as my eyes glaze over and I bite my tongue so I don't say something catty. Nothing the naysayers tell me is not anything I've not told myself or been told ever since I started trying to write stories when I was not even 10 years old yet. But the fact of the matter is I can do something a lot of aspiring writers can't do.
I can finish a damn book.
Recently, I realized what a HUGE accomplishment this is. Not only can I finish a book, I can finish a GOOD book. How do I know its good? My fans love it. And my test readers do as well (and some of them are pretty harsh). I can tell a solid story with characters that people love (and fear for) and I feel pretty damn good about that.
It wasn't until last year that I fully learned how to shove through even the toughest writer's block to produce a novel's first draft in around 2-3 weeks time. For years I left unfinished works strewn across the file folders in my computer or in notebooks shoved in my bookcase. I could not keep on track with a story for the life of me if the inspirational spark wavered.
It took me forever to finish the zombie trilogy (close to 2 years), but considering it was born from a short story, I never really thought it would end up being an epic tale. I just wrote until I was done. Of course I had a slew of fans sending me emails begging me to finish and not leave them hanging. I have to admit that kept my fires lit.
But pounding out Pretty When She Dies in such a short time was an enormous triumph. It let me know that I could shove through the worst writer's block and still turn out a great story (in rough draft form).
But was it easy? Nope. Not at all. It was tough going the whole way though the reward of having a completed first draft made it well worth it. But it was rough to shove through some nights. I ignored emails, calls, my husband and my favorite TV show (LOST) to get it done.
I'm hoping to get a writing group on the forum dedicated to finishing their stories in a two week challenge. So many of them have great ideas and are good beginning writers and just need to shove it to the next level. I hope to share with them the lessons I have learned. The horror genre needs fresh blood (hehehe) and fresh visions.
Writing is HARD. It takes dedication to your vision and the persistence to get it done.
It's definitely not for the meek either. But that's a whole other post...
P.S. to Morris: C'mon with Zombie Farm! I can't wait to read the rewrite! HURRY!!