No time for writing so far this week. Just a few paragraphs, bringing is to 98 pages an 28,007 words. Wish I had more for you, but I just don’t tonight.
See you on Friday.
We’re up to 97 pages now, and 27,812 words.
I’m working on a new Seb chapter today, and getting to use the Trash City location that I had originally created for some of the early chapters of the first attempt. It’s a lot of fun to go back to. Makes me glad I found a way to use it again.
Seb is actually a lot of fun to write. He’s a little less cynical than Dow, and much more physical. Plus, he’s got a whole slew of personal issues waiting for him at home. It keeps the character a lot more interested in staying on the road and having an adventure. There’s some cool globe-trotting stuff coming up for him, so I’m really looking forward to that.
This week is going to be busy for me, so I may not get around to doing a longer post on Wednesday or Friday. I’ll just have to owe you guys one. Or maybe not. I guess it depends on how you feel about my longer, more writery posts.
Thanks for the positive feedback and shared stories from Wednesday, guys! I won’t keep you long tonight, just a quick word-count update. I haven’t been able to write as much lately as I would like—and when I do it’s like pulling teeth—but there’s been a bit of progress and hopefully this little block will clear up next week.
We’re currently sitting at 26,651 words, spanning 93 pages.
I once, in a fit of "wisdom*," said that a story wasn't done until you had hated it so long that you came out the other side and liked it again. That's kind of a silly thing to say because, if you really hate what you're writing, you should probably reconsider writing it. But it happens to touch on something that I—like many authors, or so I have been made to understand—deal with a lot: Getting in your own damn way.
I can't speak for anyone else (It would be cool if I could, but I've always tried to maintain that this site is about an individual's process rather than those of all writers), but I get in my own way a lot. I get lazy. I get busy. I get preoccupied. I dislike my work—be it a word choice, a sentence, a chapter, or a character or plot-point—and even if that's only for a moment it's enough to get me thinking and excited about another project. And I think a lot of writers are like this, too. Or, god, at least I hope they are.
Otherwise, I'm just all screwed up.
Self-loathing is just part of my process at this point. I get to a certain part and I start to dislike what I'm doing, so I strive to make it better. The circumstances under which I start to hate the work—and the ways in which I might respond to that—change with the project, so it's hard to really talk about getting through this stage of writing (I suppose that you might just want to go back and look at the last couple months of posts for the most recent example) but it's something that does happen and almost always gets resolved favorably.
I wonder about the "why" sometimes, though. I mean, I don't like hating my work or torturing myself. I'm just not into that. But this is something that seems to plague a lot of writers—especially when they're just starting out—and it's the kind of thing that does make you wonder. We're the sort of people who are so confident in our ability to create and present stories, characters, the whole lot...That we will gladly spend time and money trying to sell our work for public consumption.
That takes a lot of faith. Maybe a fair stretch of ego. Those ain't exactly doubtin' tendencies. So why?
I think that some of it does have to do with the fact that we're all such strivers. We're looking to get out there and be noticed, and on some level we are terrified that we aren't good enough. Deep down we know that there are thousands of people out there just like us and they're going to be those chosen for publication, so why bother?
And that's just how it starts. Before too long, it becomes, "Oh, well why should I write today when I can just read this book by this author I like and will never be as good as?" Then it's, "Ah, man, why should I write or read when there are video games/TV/movies?"
And then finally it's, "Crap, dude. I ain't even gonna get out of bed."
And that's the moment when you DIE. ALONE AND UNLOVED AND UNPUBLISHED.
I...I might be projecting here. Also: Exaggerating. But, yeah, that's basically what I'm up against every time I try to assemble some work. And I've got to relearn how to cope with it every time. It's more than a little crazy, guys. Or at least it feels that way.
But, like I said, it's part of the process at this point. Just another obstacle that I put in my own way every once in a while so I can knock it the hell over. I'm not looking for sympathy or commiseration (but if you're a creative and you deal with similar issues, why not share it in the comments, eh?), just trying to get the rambling craziness of this part of things out on paper.
After all, isn't that part of what this blog is about?
* "Wisdom" is only maybe code for "drunkenness." I don't have any recollection of how or why I said this—just that I did. And I know that I said it because I wrote it down and then made up a twitter account based on it. I was in college, though, so I was probably trying to sound clever and artistic and impress a girl. I don't know. So, you know what? Come up with your own scenario to amuse yourself.
So, I’ve been experimenting with timed auto-posting since Monday, and it has just come to my attention that my Wednesday and Friday posts didn’t fire off. Some sort of permissions error. Probably should have been checking. It should be resolved now, and today’s post should be live as soon as I’m done writing it.
I’ll spare you trying to recreate the last two posts because they were really just word-count fluff. Sorry guys.
Not much progress since Saturday. Just enough to end a chapter and bring us to 25,402 words and 89 pages.
It was a bit rough ending that scene and chapter today, which is what I want to talk about a little tonight. Writing this book is kind of weird for me. Not because it’s super difficult or unusually structured or anything, but because the structure in unusual for me as a writer personally. I usually write first person stories and keep third person in reserve for my short fiction, and in that context there’s usually little room for multiple view-point characters and swapping between them. Sometimes it happens, but this novel just isn’t written in a way that I write very often, you know?
So, it’s all a little weird to write, but—most of all—it’s screwing with my ability to place scene and chapter breaks. There are places where it makes sense, obviously. A character goes to sleep or gets into a car for a long drive or is left sitting alone, and you break the scene. You hit a momentary cliffhanger or some other spot where you’re comfortable with the reader stopping for the night, and you break the chapter. It’s easy. Here, though, it’s…Let me give you an example:
My current chapter is this long runner of Sorkin-esque walk and talk. Sydney Bessette comes by Dow’s apartment and they walk together to the Lunar Historical Commission offices for a meeting, and then they have their meeting. Along the way, they swap updates on what they’ve learned since they last spoke. Now, all of this is shown from Sydney’s point of view for a couple of reasons. She’s more familiar with the temperament and routine of the colony, so she can more accurately make observations about how the lockdown is causing social decay—which is the whole point of the first half of the sequence. She’s also an outside observer when it comes to Dow, so it plays a little more naturally when she makes internal physical observations about him and how he’s adapting to lunar life. Everything up to going in to the meeting just plays better from her point of view and, because the whole thing is continuous, there’s not really a good place in there to break the scene and swap viewpoints.
Now, this is all well and good. The problem is that mid-meeting there’s going to be a crisis that causes Sydney to take a phone call and leave to deal with a UNPol matter, and—with her gone—the meeting is going to degrade because Dow is an ass with poor personal skills. I can’t cut away from the meeting and follow Sydney out to what she has to deal with, and everything is continuous going in…So where do I put the break? There’s not really a good spot. Putting the break where she takes the phone call seems okay on the surface, but breaking a conversation into two chapters like that plays very unnaturally on paper. In the end, all you’re doing is dropping the reader into the viewpoint of another character who has a wildly different opinion of the conversation underway, without any context for how that opinion was formed.
And if I did put the break in there, how far do I take it? Do I have the phone ring, break chapter, and then start the next from Dow’s perspective in the same moment? Do I have Sydney leave the office to take the call, show her conversation and her making the decision to leave, and then cap it off like a normal chapter? If I do that, do I start the next chapter from the moment that she takes the call? From the moment that she leaves the room? From the moment that it becomes clear that she’s not coming back? None of it feels quite right.
It’s all very frustrating.
I wrestled with that most of the day before just kind of giving up. Took a cue from film and theater and treated a set change as a scene break. The chapter ends as they enter the LHC offices, the next begins in the lobby, and everything from the lobby on is from Dow’s perspective. It was easy, even if it did mean rewriting a couple of short scenes.
It still doesn’t really feel right, though. It feels a little like settling and taking the easy route because it kind of is. There’s a certain art to placing a good chapter break—and maybe I’ll find the key to this one during editing—but today I just didn’t have the magic in me.
Oh well. Maybe tomorrow will be better.
So, obviously, I've been quiet since I last posted on Tuesday. I wish that I could say that it was by choice. Next week should be easier on getting posts written and up at a reasonable hour, and wouldn't that be exciting!
I did get a little writing done this week at least, bringing us to 25,129 words and 88 pages. It wasn't a whole lot of forward progress, so much as it was me going through the old material and adding a couple of little scenes that I had accidentally skipped over earlier. Just stuff that I could pull off in spare moments, really.
That's all I've got for you tonight, guys. I'm spent. I'll be back on Monday, and I'll hopefully bring something more substantial with me.
This is getting to be old hat at this point, but here I am again: Writing a Monday evening post with no internet to upload it with. If you ever get to read this—hopefully on Tuesday the 9th—well, I hope you dig it. Also: Happy Tuesday.
Now, let’s get to it.
I spent last week doing a light edit of what I’ve written so far; mostly checking for consistency and doing a few line-edits here and there, but with a few more significant changes here and there. This proved beneficial for several reasons, not the least of which being that last week crawled straight out the pits of Hell and would have kept me from getting any writing done, and those are what I’m hoping to talk about today.
This isn’t the kind of thing that I do often, going back and soft-editing the first act of a novel. I was taught to finish first and edit later, and that rule has always done fine by me. Given how troubled this project has been in the writing, though, I thought that it might be prudent this time. A novel is a big project, after all, and this one is proving to be a bit bigger and more complex than anything that I’ve written before. Going back has let me highlight a couple of trouble areas before they got too out of control, it’s let me change a couple of character and organization names before I needed to spend a whole day just doing find/replaces, and it’s let me get my formatting and chapters in proper, consistent order.
Mostly, though, it has let me refresh my memory on the novel and where it is and what I want to do with it. I went ahead while I was reading through it and updated the character list and started up a style-sheet, committing myself to specific technical terms and spellings and colonial departments, and whether or not I’m spelling it ‘all right’ or ‘alright.’ Consistency sorts of things, really.
Plus, reading what I have down already lets me pass terrible, authorial judgment on it. It’s shit, by the way. But it’s shit that I can work with and polish up, rather than shit that I should just discard like last time. Shit with potential.
That may seem like an absurd and arbitrary distinction to make on my part, but please believe me when I tell you that it’s an important one with reasoning behind it. A writer’s determined self-loathing, and how he determines the difference between good and bad shit, is a whole post in itself, though, so I’m going to keep it in reserve for the time being.
The point is that I’m ready to get back to writing now, and that I still feel good about what I’m doing. Which is why I won’t hold myself up here any more tonight.
See you folks next time.