Tension

Have found a better working title that I’m using on the novel in progress. It pleases me and hopefully fits. I’ve checked, and it’s available.

Meanwhile, I deleted a large chunk of previously written chapters, including the original ending. That ending no longer fit as first, my understanding of the concept evolved, and then my understanding of the characters and the story expanded.

Looking back, I see how involved I became in understanding the concept during the first draft. Understanding it consumed me to the detriment of the story. The characters evolved, but the story stalled.

In the second draft, I attempted multiple ways to clarify and sharpen the story. First was to expand some roles. When that didn’t work, I took all of that away. That worked better. Encouraged, I chopped more of that aspect away. That completely worked. The story came into much sharper focus.

I invested a great deal of thinking about the story and tehe concept at that point, and came to realize that what I’d learned from the concept was being misapplied in the story. In other words, the story wasn’t about what I originally thought.

Encouraged again, I kept on, but had to keep reminding myself of what the story was about vice what the concept was about. That caused a certain duality of thought and approach.

Fortunately, when I entered into a character’s skin and wrote in their voice, they had a deeper understanding of how the story was to advance versus what the concept is about.

As I’ve entered writing the final chapters, I’ve needed to draw up to think deeply about how it all ties together. Then I began writing at a furious gallop. Because this is the climax of so many story lines and arcs, it all began hugely tense. Typing in deep concentration, I had to stop and rock (and, weirdly, wring my hands together), or get up and walk around to release tension, or stop, close my eyes, and breath deeply. I found I could rarely type in more than ten minute bursts. The bursts left me feeling exhausted, forcing me to pause, regroup, and then press on. Meanwhile, my muscles and nerves strum with tension.

Closed to finishing then? Doubtful. I’ll get this raw stuff out of me. Then the holes will leap up, along with continuity and logic issues. Once they’re fixed, there will probably be pacing matters to attend.

In many ways, this final process reminds me of practicing and practicing, preparing for something. Then, finally, the moment arrives when it’s time to put the practice aside, take the stage, and make it happen. Writing this final piece of novel has that same sort of butterflies as acting (did that in high school plays), making a speech, playing in a big sports game, or making a major presentation. The tension just feels immense.

I don’t have all the answers. A lot of work remains. Days sometimes feel fantastic and exciting; other times, I despair. Many times, I’m reminded of the loneliness of this fiction writing business. It’s like being in a dinghy out on the vast ocean.

But overall, yeah, there’s exciting progress.

Butt is sore from sitting (yes, I have writer’s butt, once again), and the coffee is gone. Time to stop writing like crazy, tear myself out of that state of mind, and go back into the world and fulfill life’s mundane expectations.

Onward.

Three Months

It’s taken me three months to figure out this story.

Three months, four hundred manuscript pages, and one hundred fifty thousand damn words.

Now I think I have a handle on it. Of course that excites me.

(I also pause to think about the writing process and volume. Is four hundred pages and one hundred K words normal or standard? Is there such a thing? I started on 1 November last year, and here I am, a few days after 1 Feb of the next year (with time off for illness, holidays and good behavior). It’s odd, because it doesn’t seem like I’ve been doing much writing, just a few hours each day of vacuous sitting at the keyboard, but here I am.)

It’s the novel-writing rhythm, innit? Think, burst into flame with the brilliance of a new idea (or insight, aspect, whatev), jump to the medium (notebook and pen, notebook ‘puter, laptop, crayons on construction paper, again, whatever), and write with excitement and intensity until you flounder like a man on the can without any toilet paper (yeah, oh, no). Then think long, hard, and deeply (often while sipping tea or coffee) (or taking walks or doing dishes) until boom, the mini-process begins afresh.

In this case, I had a handle on eight of the ten main characters (after wrestling with one and getting thrown to the mat by them several times), but the other two continued vexing me. Those damn muses — that’s right, I cursed them, I’m not afraid of no muse — weren’t helping. (They seemed, in fact, to be hiding and not answering their phones.)

But once again, after editing and revising (and deeply pondering the distant mountains while draining the last dregs of cold coffee, and watching people walking by, people who seemed happier and more carefree than me) (well, some of them did) (like, that guy doesn’t, and that one), and then walking, driving, shopping, sleeping, reading, and thinking, thinking, thinking, when I took up the writing again, aha, there it is. 

Joy! Eureka! Etc. Isn’t it wonderful? Isn’t writing fun?

I did my thing and did my writing, revising, writing, editing, etc., and it all seemed so terrific. I still don’t have it all fully figured out, and proceed cautiously (and hopefully). (But then again, that’s today.) But, yeah, good day of writing like crazy.

Time to turn it off and do something else before it makes me crazy, ya’ know?

 

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