Writers write

It is, by definition, what they do.

I wanted to be a writer for a very long time. I had — and have — countless ideas bouncing around in my mind, and the idea of being a professional novelist struck me as a far better option than some mundane day (or night) job. In 2009 I discovered National Novel Writing Month and gave it a go. The story I ended up writing that year was…well, it wasn’t great. In fact, one could fairly call it rubbish. But still, I had managed to write a work of fiction of nontrivial length, and for that, I was kind of proud of myself.

I did NaNoWriMo again in 2010 and wrote another mostly terrible book. In November 2011, I wrote a third book, and unlike the first two attempts, it wasn’t terrible. It was actually kind of good. With the help of my sister I polished the manuscript up, and in August 2012, I published Stone King: A Mecha Monogatari Novel as an ebook on the Kindle Direct Publishing platform.

The “Mecha Monogatari” was the name of a pen-and-paper roleplaying game that me and my best friend had ran, a cobbled-together, barely functional set of rules cribbed from the d20 System, set in a near-future Japan where giant military robots piloted by youths defended the world from alien invaders. It was definitely inspired by Japanese animation series like Neon Genesis Evangelion and Gundam.

Stone King was the story of one of the minor characters from the Mecha Monogatari, a mecha pilot who lived through some of that world’s great battles, told in an autobiographical style. But it wasn’t just about the fighting and battles. That sort of story holds little appeal to me, and so in Stone King I tried to explore what life in such a world would be like.

But I digress. This isn’t really about Stone King.

So, in August 2012 I published my first ebook on Amazon, and started gearing up to write another when NaNoWriMo came around again in November. That’s a bit of advice I picked up somewhere: keep writing and putting your writing out there, because people that find and like any one of your works will likely take an interest in anything else you’ve written. As I was putting the finishing touches on Stone King, I knew what I wanted to write about next. Or, to be honest, who I wanted to write about.

Enokido Harumi was a major character in the old pen-and-paper RPG, and she turned up a couple of times in Stone King, more as a cameo than anything else. She was one of the living legends in the world of the Mecha Monogatari, a pilot renowned throughout Japan as one of the greatest, known by the sobriquet Kodora, the Little Tiger of Rikuzentakata, who carried an ancient katana into battle with her. Except she wasn’t quite the person the legends suggested. Competent and dependable, to be sure, but not the invincible warrior-heroine she was played up to be in-universe.

Of course, a character like that, the most interesting story would surely be how they earned their sobriquet. What happened in the little fishing town of Rikuzentakata, Japan, such that this young woman earned nationwide renown? That was my story right there, and so, on the first of November 2012, I began to write about Enokido Harumi.

I completed the NaNoWriMo challenge well before the end of the month, but even as December 1st rolled around, the story wasn’t finished. I kept plugging away, writing less and less every day until progress completely stalled. All that was left was to write the final battle and the conclusion, but I couldn’t get it written. I realized I was writing from the wrong point of view, and began a rewrite, which also stalled at about the same point. I knew what needed to happen. I just couldn’t get the words out of my brain and onto the page.

In short, I ultimately gave up on Enokido Harumi’s story. But I was still writing. I wrote some shorter, novella-length stories set in the Mecha Monogatari world, and even branched out into a different fictional world with The Impossible Stairwell, a tale of a young man who discovers a stairwell in his school that can take him forward and backwards in time.

The Impossible Stairwell was a different sort of challenge to write, mainly because of the way I set up time travel to work. A very detailed spreadsheet chronicling times and places needed to be created in order to make sure that everything worked out in a consistent manner.

I left things open at the end of The Impossible Stairwell for a sequel, but I doubt I’ll ever write one. Time travel is a colossal pain when you’re trying to be internally consistent with your time traveling rules.

Again, I digress. This isn’t about The Impossible Stairwell, either. This is about writing and procrastination.

In December 2014, I published my fifth and most recent work, which I gave the rather long title To the Joys of Volunteering and the Beginning of the Future: A Mecha Monogatari Novella. (In conversation, I always call it either To the Joys or just Joys.)

I published it, and then…well, and then I kind of stopped writing.

As I said, writers write. If you want to be a writer, write something. If you want to continue being a writer, continue writing. It is not a complicated thing.

I could probably dredge up a dozen or more “reasons” why I let writing take a back-burner. Example: In January 2015, I was promoted to a supervisory position left me with a new batch of responsibilities. But I don’t want to list excuses why I am not writing. I want to write.

“Write what you know” is a classic bit of writing advice. Classic…or cliché? Can it be both? It doesn’t matter if it is or isn’t, it is a bit of advice I’m going to take. I’m going to write what I know, and right now I know that I want to write another story of at least novella length for publication via Kindle Direct Publishing if not elsewhere, and I know a ton of ways I’m procrastinating working on that project.

So I’m going to write about procrastinating and writing and maybe a great many other things. I’m not sure what I expect to get out of this exercise. Maybe a bit of motivation? Maybe rediscover a bit of the writing groove I have enjoyed settling into in the past? I don’t know, but I know how to find out.

If nothing else, it will be better than a blank page.

Like what you read? Give S. Douglas Johnson a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.