who the heck knows anything, anyway

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Novel Reboot: Writing is Hard (Sometimes)

Up until about three days ago, I was about seventy-five pages deep into a novel I had been working on for three and a half years. Sure, that doesn't seem like a whole lot, but I've cut huge chunks out, re-written it time and time again, and was finally picking up some steam on it. And I loved some of the later parts. The beginning, though, drove me absolutely batty (as most things I wrote at age nineteen are wont to do), and there was just no fixing it. At first, I was going to try re-writing the first paragraph blindly and go from there. But that led to me realizing that I want to scrap huge plot points that I think are dumb. That left me with starting over completely. Which is what I have done.

Don't worry, I archived the old stuff. I'm not getting rid of it. But the usable bits are pretty insignificant. Fortunately, in the span of two days, I smashed out about 1,300 words, and they are more to my liking. But now I'm hitting that What's Next? wall. The characters are generally the same (they've undergone a bit of tweaking, but the essence is still there. One of my pals then suggested calling the project my Reboot, which I find to be fitting and simultaneously endearing), but the story line is drastically different. I have always been really bad at pre-formulating a plot. I usually just go with the flow, and the flow does a darn-tootin' fine job of taking me where I need to be. Not to say that I never get writer's block. With only seventy-five pages written in three and a half years, you can bet your best pants that I get writer's block somethin' awful. Maybe I was just all psyched up over jumping back in so effortlessly that I forgot about the dry spells.

But, screw that, I don't want any more dry spells. Writer's Block is like, to quote Sebastian the crab, a teenager: You give it an inch, and it'll swim all over you. Enough with the moping and the excuses and the Whine Whine I'm So Busy whining. I love writing. When I write a great sentence, I do a happy dance, it makes me feel so good. But some tool boxes say that if it's hard to do sometimes, then you don't actually love it. It shouldn't be painful, ever. But that can't be true, right? Even the most happily in love couple struggles at some point, whether it's with distance or with their own past regrets or whatever. It's not the love itself that is struggling, but the realization of it. So suck on that, mean people. I love it so much, you are jealous. It just so happens that I am not content with simply buying my love flowers to keep it happy (mmm, prolonged metaphors).

Sebastian knows what's up
I don't know if what I need is a good writing community to motivate me, or if I need a plot to go on, or if it'll all work out just fine, but I wish someone could help me out with establishing a good rhythm. Writing is a very personal thing, though. What works for me probably won't work for you. John Cheever wrote naked in his laundry room and had to "earn back" his right to wear clothes. I would rather not do this. But you see what I mean. I yearn for guidance! Alas, there is none. So I will go back to my notebooks and keyboards and hope that it all works out. Because, otherwise, all that's left for me is existential crisis and, as much as I love Kierkegaard, that really doesn't sound like a good time.

Open to suggestions, as always. For totems, or what have you!