Wednesday, October 31, 2007


I have only written 2K in 2 months. And that all in one day, a couple weeks ago. Other than that one day, progress has been nonexistent.

This LOLcat sums it up:

I guess I'm not one of those people who is energized as they near the end; I'm paralyzed. Most of the remaining scenes are the ones I've been skirting, dodging around for the past year or so, and don't know how to go about writing. On top of that, I am thoroughly into the "this book sucks" phase, which I had hoped to avoid until rewrites, and the sheer weight of how much emotion and complexity and continuity I am trying to include and likely not succeeding with is bearing down on me and crushing the air out of my figurative writing lungs.

Okay, I guess I don't think the book sucks. I know in my heart of hearts this is a good idea, a good story. I still get excited thinking about plot details. What I think sucks My writing.

This goes beyond the doldrums. I'm not just waiting for a breeze; I need someone to bring me a new sail, because mine is gone and even if the wind were to pick up, I don't know how I'd catch it.

All the momentum I built over the summer is gone. A lot of it was stolen by the rest of my life, which came crashing down in September after I'd put it off for months to concentrate on the book. Then I was just burnt out and fatigued and couldn't drag myself to the computer in favor of sleep. It doesn't help that Little Boy is near impossible to put to bed anymore, and even when he finally gets quiet, it's much harder to start writing at 10 pm after a long day than it was at 8 pm or even 9.

Over these two months other short-term projects have intruded, and I told myself I'd take a few weeks off the book, then a month, then a few more weeks, and now it's become two months and the end of October - a point at which I'd hoped to be done and into rewrites preparatory to entering a few major contests - is looming tomorrow with me no farther along.

Tonight I was finally reasonably well-rested, caught up enough in life to devote an evening to writing, Little Boy went down at the early hour of 9:30, and my frustration at the delay in finishing the MS was great enough to get me Butt In Chair.

Only, once I actually connected my data stick and prepared to write (after dealing with the minor emergency of some corrupted files - hooray for backups), I froze.

All the places I could have picked up and worked felt dead to me, the scenes wooden or lacking, to the point where I couldn't even bear to open the files and read what tripe I had written there. I faced the ultimate fear of writers: I couldn't hear or see my characters. It's not a disconnect from them, specifically, because I can hear them for the House Party scenes. It's that I can't see what they want to do - what I need to write - for the MS.

...There's this thing I do, a state I get myself into. I call it "variable overload". My nature is to hold in my head all the aspects of a situation, spread out mentally so I can analyze, utilize, compartmentalize, optimize. It makes me a good problem solver. I use it for anything from finding the way to pack the most objects into a space (such as organizing closets or loading kilns) to finding the most efficient order/route to run errands. The problem arises when there are too many variables. My brain goes into this endless loop of "but what about this? and this? and this?" and I end up having a mini-meltdown, stressed out and unable to choose any path. Usually at that point DH has to step in and make the decision for me, and even though I want to protest ("but have you considered...?!") I go meekly along for the sake of doing something, anything.

Right now I'm in variable overload with the book. My brain is a jumble of story arcs, relationship progression, character motivation, settings, dialect, historical details, style and craft...all screaming for my attention, pressing me to work them seamlessly into each scene.

Objectively, I know they don't all have to be in place in the SFD. It's called that for a reason, after all, and that inherent ability to analyze will help me in rewrites once I can see the Big Picture. But I can't get to the Big Picture because I'm frozen, uncertain, stressed out by my inadequacies and the sheer enormity of what it takes to write an outstanding book.

And DH can't make these decisions for me.

Now is the time when perfectionism is a curse.

But I'll work through it, and blogging this is the first step. This is not a plea for pats on the back, hand-holding, and "there-there"s. I just felt I needed to come clean about the fact that, for all that I've been maintaining a facade of progress and enthusiasm, I really haven't done much of anything. And to tell the truth, I do feel better and more motivated for getting it out in the open.

*deep breath*

Tomorrow is a new day, and the day after that is a new month. NaNoWriMo, in fact, and though I'm not taking that particular challenge hopefully there will be a charge in the air - the collective subconscious of so many writers in the country who are energized and focused. I think I can tap into that, and overcome this last and greatest hurdle. By the time a new year rolls around, I'll be where I want to be.


Precie said...

I'm glad you faced your fears and frustrations. I know you'll work through it, and I know you'll complete OHN (and its sequel!).

I understand the need to maintain the facade of productivity and motivation, but really you should do whatever you need to do. Maybe schedule a Mommy Day when the men leave the house and you just write for the day. Give yourself permission to ignore what feels wooden or "not right" and just write.

You can do it!

Precie said...

I found this timely article on the Writer's Digest web site:

Creative Lollygagging

I think it might be helpful, for me as much as for you.

Jenny said...

That was a good article. I wish it wasn't getting cold - I think best when I'm walking or riding my scooter. But I need to let my brain have its own time, instead of filling it up with TV and internet while I try to psych myself up for writing.

And thanks for the encouragement. :-)

Deniz Bevan said...

oh jenny... you've pretty much summed it up; that "this thing sucks" feeling that keeps one from finishing the story and the hope that all this charged writing atmosphere will spark something somewhere... I pulled 300 words out of my veins today while the hockey game was on in the background yet all I wanted was to curl up and read. The story isn't bad, I'm always just worried that it doesn't have IT. Man I hope it does/will...