The mid-year cusp finds me contracting and expanding among multiple spectrums, like my psyche is inhaling and exhaling, troubling and calming itself, encouraging and discouraging. All’s well, it’s not looking good, but it’s looking better even if it looks like crap.
July is beginning. I’ve completed the first draft of the novel begun in January (April Showers 1921). The first draft strikes me as abysmal. The things that I thought I needed to write and I thought were so perfect make me want to hurl now. Wading through them is like walking naked through a chest-high pool of liquified feces.
This is writing’s essence for me. It’s the matter of thinking on topics and characters, needling the imagination into pulling concepts out of my ass, and then tinkering with it all, hunting the story, wrestling with understanding, and coping with how to tell it, and what I’m telling.
I began a new draft and reorganized the structure. That’s another phase in progress. I’ve edited and revised the first twelve chapters in the past week. Several of the chapters required five or more passes. One chapter remained unsatisfying after six or seven hacks at it. I marked it for more work and continued, remembering that the story being told is the sum of all the separate pieces, and only come together for me when they’re all known and understood. Then, working on another chapter, I went back to the troubling chapter. Eureka! I saw the issues troubling me, clear as a full moon on a cloudless night. Slash, slash, slash, slice, slice, slice, cut and delete, cut and delete, rework, rework. Ah; better. More passes are needed, but it now works.
Others have noticed my focus and intensity. They only see the outer panel. Inside me, it’s as intense as a hot, bubbling cauldron. I noticed the impact on other aspects of my life. Phone calls and emails that are promised are postponed to keep from interfering with my progress. My focus on this novel causes me to forget to do things that I’ve planned, errands to run, et cetera. I know this is the case, but my wife thinks I’m being forgetful because I’m getting old or something. I don’t bother to attempt to correct her, because there’s no value in wasting that energy.
Above and beyond, after reading interviews with authors, I’ve ended up with a long list of books to read. The ideas found and presented are spectacular. I want to go read those stories. It’s far from an altruistic plan. While it’s born in the enjoyment I find in reading and the admiration I have for their success in going the path that I follow, there are more books for me to write. Reading these others will help unleash these book ideas. That excites me.
That thought reminds me of the danger of tastes and preferences. I tend to read science fiction, thrillers, historic fiction, a few ‘literary’ books, mysteries, some non-fiction about science, economics, and politics, but I need to expand that circle. It’s a decent size, but it’s too small for the size of our existence. I’m hungry to find more, learn more, imagine more, and write more.
One thing that I learned while working in the military, startups, and Fortune 500 corporations is the value of pacing. There will be ups and downs, but to finish, I have to manage my intellectual, emotional, and physical energies so that I can be there at the end. That requires introspection and meditation, but my dreams help me.
It’s a different path for each of us. I’m jealous of being who stumble onto their path early and who manage to navigate it to their satisfaction, but I can’t deny that I’m happy to be on this path.
We’re cresting mid-year. I hope you’re all doing well on your paths. Press on.