What the hell have I been doing for the past few years?

It honestly all seems to blur together at this point. In the age of hyper-productivity, it’s popular to set goals and track progress. I knew I should have been doing it, but alas, after not having really tracked my progress for a few years, I felt compelled to compile this list of checkpoints that I hit while working on various projects. I came up with this list:

2015

October 23rd – FINALLY complete The Lottery, a spec screenplay co-written with my friend, after an arduous three year process, send to friends and mentors for feedback

November 18th – Receive notes from college professor/mentor on The Lottery. Some encouragement, mostly negative

2016

January 17th – Submit The Lottery to a workshop in the Itaewon district in Seoul

February 25th – Complete an early unfinished treatment of a Sci-Fi Thriller. The first sign of my new project after deciding to write novels.

March 7th – Complete list of changes needed for The Lottery, prioritized by importance

July 9th – Finish experimental chapters of Sci-Fi Thriller

July 15th – Finish revision of The Lottery

August 20th – Receive competition feedback on The Lottery

September 4th – Send First Act treatment of Sci-Fi to potential editor

September 20th – Final rejection letter for The Lottery rolls in

November 27th – Send experimental first chapters of Sci-Fi Thriller to workshop group in Itaewon.

December 17th – Attend first meeting of workshop in Gangnam

2017

March 5th – Send 20 pages of psychological thriller to a workshop group, calling it “While You Were Asleep”. It’s about a guy who hears his wife confess a murder while in her sleep. First documented evidence of my story.

April 26th – Send 8 page outline to a friend, calling it “Untitled Mystery Thriller”.

April 9th – Send one page outline on the story to a friend, very thriller-esque, lots of plot

May 4th – Finish eight page outline

August 3rd – Send 13,000 words of novel to a friend.

Summary

So, I worked on three projects during those three years.

  1. The Lottery, a spec screenplay
  2. Sci-Fi Mystery novel
  3. Psychological Thriller novel

I completed the first, abandoned the second, and the third is what I’m currently working on.

2015

I was simply revising my spec The Lottery, getting feedback and rejections, and also most likely mining concepts.

2016

This was a year spent trying to crack a very difficult, ambitious story, plus also trying to find my voice as a novelist. Whenever novel writers try to write scripts, I always say that you can’t just walk in day one and try to write a screenplay. Well, it’s the same vice-versa, I should have taken my own advice! The process was much more frustrating than I had imagined and, while I’ve now found a style I can run with, I don’t feel I’m completely matured in my voice just yet. I wound up abandoning that tricky story altogether. I did do some revising on my spec script as well, but it didn’t take the bulk of my time I think.

2017

This year isn’t over, but it was equally frustrating, as I was trying to crack a new story that I thought was simplistic. (It’s never simplistic). I was writing a lot of pages and throwing them away. Rinse and repeat. It was a very humbling, unpleasant experience. I wasn’t doing well in the story department, and I wasn’t doing well in the craft of writing either. Wound up scrapping somewhere along the lines of 50,000 words that were just simply horrible.

 

What I learned:

So what was the major takeaway of doing this and also the past two or three years? Now that I have a good view of the previous two years, I can say that they were a great learning experience. Two major things come to mind:

 

  1. I learned a lot about story. I did a bunch of treatments and I did a lot of thinking about the true meaning of

    story. I also learned about what appeals to me as a writer is very

    important,and that audiences have expectations as well.

  2. I learned a lot of adapting my style to novels. You can’t just

    forgotten years of playwriting and screenwriting knowledge, throw it all out the door when you start writing novels. I need to fall back

    onmy craft. I don’t want to reinvent the wheel, just need to adapt my current style so that it fits the conventions of novels.

One more thing comes to mind: I threw away tons, and tons of pages. Like, actual weight in tons. Alright, not really, but it sure felt like it. I think I threw away about 90-95% of the words that I wrote.

 

I came up with a few rules/takeaways for myself:

  1. Know when to walk away from a project. Seriously, my sci-fi thriller had tons of potential, but I just didn’t have the tools to execute it. Had I doggedly pursued it, I may have written something bad.
  2. Listen to your inner critic. There was a solid stretch there where I was just typing away, knowing something was wrong, but not addressing it. It came back to bite me and I wound up throwing all of those pages away.
  3. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Gotta fall back

    onmy craft and not forget about everything I learned up

    untilthis point. When I decided to switch over to novels, I felt like it was this strange new territory to be conquered, but I realize I just need to do what works for me.

Anyway, that’s what I’ve been up to writing-wise for the past few years. When I decided to switch over to novel writing two years ago, I didn’t envision this happening. But looking back, I can say it’s been a valuable experience for me.

 

 

-Peter

 

Hello everyone,

Just a quick update.

I scrapped my pages. All of them. It’s hard to admit this, but the quality just wasn’t good enough. I think I was really impatient on getting something out there, too focused on the result, that I just completely rushed the process. In the words of Toy Story 2, “You can’t rush art.”

I also psyched myself out of it in a way. I don’t want to get too into it, but for a number of reasons, somewhere along the line I got convinced that this project wouldn’t be very successful.

So where am I now?

I’m beginning again. It can be frustrating, but setbacks are a normal part of the game. Just need to have faith that things will work out in time.

I just finished Chapter 1 and so far it’s going really well. Like most writers, I never really consider anything “done” but I do know when I’m “close enough” and these pages are right there. On to Chapter 2 with this new direction.

For anyone who has been waiting for this novel, sad news, but I’ve pushed the release date back yet again. At the pace I’m going, I’m thinking I’ll be finished somewhere around Winter 2018. Sorry for the wait!

-Peter