The Slow Curve

I’ve kind of been taking a break from writing.

Not a huge break. I mean, I was revising Privateer for four months, and I wrote a whole post about how I had to get into a completely different mindset to do that. I give props to people who write new stuff and revise at the same time, because—as I found out when I tried my hand at a couple of short story ideas while in London—it’s really hard to divide up your concentration.


And it hasn’t been a dry spell ideas-wise, either. I’m still scribbling them down. My notebook is pretty fat and juicy. I just haven’t been starting things.

I don’t remember if I wrote about this or not, so please smile and nod if I’m repeating myself, as this is a sure sign that I’m losing my mind. But ever since I finished the first draft of Privateer in November, I’ve found it hard to begin other stories. This happens to me every time I finish a big project, but it still feels a little foreign every time it happens—probably because this is not the problem that most people have.

Most people don’t finish stories. They have no problem starting stuff… and then petering out toward the middle. But that’s never been me. This isn’t actually a good thing, because I know this about myself—that I will almost always finish a story if I start it—and that means that I have to be seriously committed to the idea if I decide to start writing it. I have to be willing to give up my firstborn for that idea.

Have I mentioned lately how great of a parent I will be in the future?

Back in January, when I was fresh off the Privateer rush, I came up with this really weird idea. I know now that it was a product of my watching too much Alias during winter break, but I decided that I desperately needed to write a spy novel. A spy novel in which the main character was actually some kind of weird cyborg with a microchip implanted in her head that could encapsulate her soul, and this was allowing her to switch bodies via microchip transplant whenever she got too old so she was actually 900 years old.

I... I don't even...

And I thought it was BRILLIANT, okay. Because I still felt so empowered after finishing Privateer, I immediately began planning it.

But the more I planned it… the more I realized how stupid the premise was. And I started thinking, “Wait, it took me a year and a half to write Privateer. Am I really willing to dedicate that long or longer to this crappy excuse for a spy/dystopian/scifi/whattheactualheckisthis novel?”

Short story shorter—I put it away. I started revising Privateer. I took a stab at a couple of short stories. I had a few more novel ideas. But the whole time, that little voice was chanting in the back of my mind, You’ll never have another idea worth your time.

I was feeling like a Bad Writer. I was dismissing every single idea I had, because they WEREN’T GOOD ENOUGH. Why weren’t any strokes of genius hitting me? They seemed to be hitting my friends. Everywhere I turned, I was seeing new stories pop up out of nowhere for other people. Tweets that read, “OMG I love the thing I’m working on! #amwriting #writerproblems #jkihavenoproblems”

So I was sulking around and feeling pretty badly about myself. And then I remembered something.

There are no bad ideas.

Initial ideas are seeds, and they’re supposed to be “bad.” They’re brainbabies. The brainchildren and brainadults (is that a thing?) come later. No idea is inherently stupid. Ideas are a good thing. They lead to better things down the road.

They come to you. And maybe you dismiss them, but they’ll always come back.

What I have just described, my friends, is what I’m now calling The Slow Curve.

Have you ever seen The Lizzie McGuire Movie (2003), starring baby Hilary Duff and that cop from Pretty Little Liars? If not, you are missing out on a truly masterful work of art, but I will take the liberty of explaining myself since a.) I cannot find the scene literally anywhere on YouTube, and b.) the title of this blog post is just so fantastic that I NEED YOU TO UNDERSTAND IT FOR THE SAKE OF MY FRAGILE EGO.

In the movie, Lizzie McGuire goes on a class trip to Italy, and her sexy-as-all-heck classmate Ethan Craft has a scene with Lizzie’s best friend Gordo, in which Ethan tries to teach Gordo how to attract the Random Italian Females.

GORDO sees girls. ETHAN also sees girls.

ETHAN: Nice spy, bro. Yeah, watch and learn. The Slow Curve. Works every time.

ETHAN begins to turn slowly, his hair wafting in the breeze and his lips parted in an alluring, ultra-masculine pout. It is, in a word, delicious.

GORDO: I’ve got to go talk to them.

GORDO begins to walk away, leaving ETHAN sad and alone.

ETHAN: That’s not how The Slow Curve works, they come to us.

*end scene*

Get it get it get it?!!?!ajsdf;laskjdflskd

*claps for self for knowing this scene by heart*

So now it’s been about a week since I’ve had to have this epiphany yet again. And I’ve got this story idea. So I’m starting it.

And guess what. It came from that stupid spy novel idea I had in January. The plot isn’t remotely the same (no cyborgs or microchips… yet), but I definitely stole some characters from the world. Also, secret agents may or may not be involved.

And I’m going to put it on Figment, so help me, because if I don’t, I might chicken out and stop writing it, pretending that I didn’t *really* start it so that I won’t be obligated to finish it.

But that would be marginally dishonest, since I’m already 10,000 words in.

Introducing CURE ME

Introducing my new Figment novel-y project, Cure Me.

Samantha Chaffin


3 thoughts on “The Slow Curve

  1. thejaneite says:

    Guuuurrrrrll. So much to say….

    1) YOU WATCH ALIAS. I already spammed you on facebook a moment ago, but I have to say it again: you are infinitely cool. Alias literally consumed like, two months of my life, where I watched all five seasons on netflix and sobbed and laughed and sat in a corner of anti-social misery, truly believing that those characters cared as much for me as I did for them (i.e. we would give our lives for each other, you know). I also may or may not have frantically written the outline to a book under my blankets with a flashlight after waking up from a vaguely Alias-inspired dream. It’s kind of my favorite thing ever.

    2) I TOTALLY WATCHED THE LIZZIE MCGUIRE MOVIE!! I think I remember that scene, too. 😀 I like your blog post name. 🙂 I see what you did t[here].

    3) ASDFGHJKL YOU MUST TWEET/MESSAGE/TEXT ME AS SOON AS YOU ARE ABOUT TO POST THIS NEW BOOK SO I MAY READ IT AND REVEL IN ITS SHEER PERFECTION AND BRILLIANCE THE SECOND IT IS POSTED. (haha that would mean we actually texted, but you know what I mean.) 10,000 words?! Good gog, girl. You rock.

    4) heh heh….heh….I may have been one of those people on twitter who was all hyped up about my new projects…. *ahem* my bad. 😉 But in my defense I’ve only been writing to console myself from my all-consuming misery for the time I haven’t had something of yours to read. Obviously.

    5) No idea is a bad idea, true. (Ha- every once in a while I’m pretty sure I challenge that theory.) You’re quite an encouragement, really. I do the whole throw-my-hands-up-in-the-air thing all the time, not cheerily singing “ay-o!”, but rather tearing out my hair and feeling the urge to destroy everything I’ve ever written, and it’s a relief to be reminded that there’s almost always at least something salvageable. (That being said, as I’m sure you can attest to (case in point, this blog post) there are some/many ideas that really need to simmer for a while before they’re ready to be written. 🙂 I’m super excited to read this new book, though- like, you really can’t even imagine how excited I am.

    And now that I’ve practically left an entire blog post of my own here….adieu. 🙂

    • samchaffin says:

      Oh my goodness, Lydia, you brighten my days. 🙂 I was basically giggling all the way through your comment, and I love you for taking the time to write it/read my post at all.
      2.) Um, so the fact that you’ve both seen this movie and remember the scene basically explains why we’re friends right now. 😉
      3.) I’m so excited that you’re excited for Cure Me!! I’ve been hardly able to contain my own excitement about it for the past few days. To be honest, this story is the whole reason behind me getting a Pinterest. Haha secret boards galore. I will let you know before I post it, I promise! Just the fact that you want me too kind of blows my mind.
      5.) So happy that you can relate here. I often feel like I'm alone on this… like I will come up with an idea, and then the next day realize that it's idiotic, and then despair because I must be a terrible writer WOE IS ME. Haha but I have a hard time believing that you ever have any bad ideas. Ever. Because… you're you. So.


  2. Kim says:

    If I read this post, ooooh, say six months ago, I probably would have been like, “Yeah, that’s pretty tough. But I have ideas. Really WEIRD ideas. I can write a new story whenever I want to.”

    Now? If I say that, I’d totally be lying and someone would have to stage an intervention, haha.

    Due to being stuck in revision hell, I have developed the same problem you have in starting a story. I know I’ll probably finish it, so I want ot make sure that it’s a story I want to be comsumed with – and share with readers (‘Cause, you know, most of my writing goes up on Figment. It’s a small miralce that both Pocket Forest and my thesis has stayed hidden, haha).

    I have not been appreciating the brainbabies (awesome term!) as I used to. For sure. Right now, I have an idea for a story that I’d LOVE to write. It has something to do with smashing the magical girl genre and steampunk together. Not that there’s rose-wielding, masked men running around and attack commands swirling in my head, but I’ve been struggling to actually sit down and start writing it.

    (Maybe that has something to do with having two manuscripts that need revising ASAP and Boys & Bees haunting me like a bad ghost. Gah).

    Before I continue ranting, let me just say that I need to add the Lizzie McGuire Movie and Alais onto my to-watch list. They sound life-changing (like Doctor Who, haha).

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