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?

 

Not Necessarily

Is three times a charm? Not necessarily when novel writing.

I’m into draft number three of the current novel in progress (NIP). I call it number three, but I’ve rewritten and rearranged the first five pages about one billion times, and do the same for the first fifty pages at least six million times.

Fast writer, aren’t I?

I suspect those numbers are exaggerations for effect, although it seems like they’re true. I know of some days when I undid when I did he previous day. Makes me think of the novel blues.

I woke up this morning with a gleam in my eye.

Had a masterpiece in my head, I will not tell a lie.

Rushed to the keyboard, to get it all down,

then the muses abandoned me, made me feel like a clown.

Oh, yeah, I have the stumbling through the story, struggling novelist blues.

And if you wrote like me, you’d probably be sufferin’ them too.

Come on, sing along as you write.

As with everything writing, I remain mostly passionate and hopeful, depending upon the hour, day of the week, which way the wind is blowing, and other important portends such as a crow cawing from the top of a tree.

Got my coffee. Time to continue writing like crazy.

Didn’t Finish

I didn’t finish writing the first draft of It Begins. (BTW, I’ve come to despise that title, even for a working doc. It was always meant to be short-termed. I keep waiting for the real thing to pop up.)

Disgust, anger, irritation, and frustration all stopped me from finishing the first draft. This wasn’t working, it wasn’t what I’d envisioned (or anywhere near it) and more, it wasn’t satisfying, winning a prolonged grrrrr from deep in my throat.

WTH and WTF? I kept trying to write around the issue. What was it disturbing me? Didn’t like that beginning, so I added shit. Didn’t like that, so I took it away again. Rearranged chapters. Deleted story lines.

None hit the magic g-spot. Exasperation hounded me like a hungry cat. Finally, and at last, as I was in the bathroom, a huge freakin’ epiphany struck.

First, I want to note that a much of my best epiphanies arrive in the morning while I’m doing my washing, shaving, and dressing. I think that’s because the tedium of routine permits my brain to enter a prolonged idle. The stream of thought calms and new items percolate in.

The second strike of intrigue came as I walked, thought, and then started writing. The epiphany showed me that I was pursuing the wrong tack. But as I reviewed what I’d written in the first takes compared to what I thought that I was writing about, it seemed that my subconscious (through the vessels called muses) was pursuing the correct direction while my conscious mind slaved in the wrong direction.

I’d been thinking that I needed clarity. That’s what I’d been hunting, not a problem with the writing, but clarity about the story that I was trying to tell. Now it feels like clarity has been found.

Hope so, but you know, like many things, a victory is achieved on one day, but the same work is required on another. Which was what I think all my writing efforts demonstrated: I knew something was off, and tried writing through it to a solution. In a roundabout way, that’s what happened as the effort helped my thought process. Guess that’s what fiction writing is about, in the end.

Once my clarify was delivered, I felt like I was suddenly shifting into a new, unknown writing gear. Not surprising, right? That’s what happens when you overcome an obstacle.

Done writing like crazy for the day. Off to other adventures. Cheers

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