Writing in the dark
I am stressed.
It’s a quiet sort of stress, and it’s multifold. I have submitted the full of THE SEVENTH VEIL (formerly known as THE WITCH’S APPRENTICE, also formerly known as A TOUCH OF STEEL) to an agent, and that’s very good. Makes me feel all accomplished in many ways, especially realizing that after a lot of dithering, that agent really was where I wanted to submit. So that’s stress one, because if she passes, it will be a bummer and a loss, and that will need to be processed, and if she says yes, then it will be a different (but better) stress because there will be New Things. So it’s stress either way.
There is also this idea that keeps growing in my mind that should this agent fail to work out, I want to just go the alternate route and do it all myself. That feels insane on many, many levels, and I worry that it is really just disguised avoidance. I think better would be to stick to my original plan of submitting to 13 places, and technically I’m now on #4, so I’m getting close to half-way. Sort of like a workout session. Right now seems like an easy time to just quit, but if I just kept pushing, soon I’d be over the hump and it would be downhill from there. And yet the idea of tossing all that off, of acknowledging that I just write weird stuff and would be better served making my own corner on the planet, focusing only on the work, has appeal. So I go back and forth. Stress.
There’s not much to do about the first two, so I try not to dwell on them much, which tends to make me feel like a caged tiger, pacing the house. I keep sorting out rooms and cleaning things and going to the gym–all nice and productive, but they don’t answer the itch. So I try to write, which leads me to the next problem: the damn muses and the snarly mess that is SMALL TOWN BOY.
Okay, it isn’t a snarly mess. It feels very good, and there is very good stuff in there, I acknowledge that. It’s just freakishly huge, again. I mean, it’s 92,000 words. Many people are finished by now. TEMPLE BOY, the first draft of the nanowrimo novel, was nearly finished at 92k. This thing is just rolling into act two. That’s just . . . there is no word. WRONG is a nice start, but doesn’t quite express the sheer panic and MAYDAY MAYDAY MAYDAY I feel. I am tempted to send it to Caryle and say, "Does this have any pacing? Is it simply wandering around not going anywhere?" But it wouldn’t do any good, because I can’t believe that it’s okay, in any universe, to have an opening go on this long, not on any level, so I won’t believe anyone. The only thing that would make it okay is if it actually is not still the opening, if I shifted into something without realizing it, or if it is doing the secret thing where it will all of a sudden work out so much better than I ever thought and I will be amazed and surprised and in awe.
This actually becomes a metaphor for so much of my life right now. I can believe that things are working out better than I think. I can believe that I am doing my best and that it is enough, and it will all come to something, that I will slide into decisions as easily as it was to submit to that agent when I let the rightness of them rise up from the depths. It isn’t about her taking it or not (though soon it will be)–it’s about how I just knew that was what I wanted, even when there were a couple other potential roads in front of me that looked better on paper. It was a choice from my heart.
I’m writing something else, too, something I won’t even talk to Dan about because it’s so strange to me, and it’s full of ridiculousness right now, the sort that always mark my beginnings, improbable things and inconsistencies flapping about while the characters get dressed and make their emotional stakes. It’s also in first person, which I almost universally hate to read (so when I love your first person story, be thrilled, because you made a convert) and absolutely detest to write, and it very, very very much has no market I can see at all. And it comes and goes, tossing itself back and forth in between STB, so I’m writing one, then the other, watching them both be insane and all wrong, except they’re doing what they want, so they must somehow actually be right.
And so swirling around this is stress, a constant pulse of it that I am always trying to keep at bay, which I sometimes dwell on as its own thing, wondering how should I diffuse it, alarmed when sometimes the answer seems to be, "Don’t." It’s as if right now the stress is my antagonist, pushing me, prodding me, keeping me awake. It is keeping me in the dark, forcing me into strange clothes, making me feel exposed and uncertain and nurturing my sense that I might actually be, despite my yearning to be otherwise, simply ridiculous. And it’s loudest when I hold that ridiculousness in my hand, urging me to own it, to dig my fingers into it, swearing that at the core there is no monster, no slime, no shame, but that it is, in fact, just what I have been seeking.
Except, I know from experience that sometimes it lies, herding me into a fall, whether or not I am yet ready.
But there is nothing else to do, so I keep writing, on and on, in the dark, not sure anyone would really want to listen to this, but writing anyway, trying not to look at the word count, trying to keep my eye on the spine of the story I already know while being willing to let the vertebrae vanish and shift and merge. I try to trust myself, and I repeat, sometimes hourly, "Yes, you’ve written this before, but really, it’s a first draft all over again."
So that’s where I am. And right now I’m going to shift the laundry, have a rather dark little meditation, then write a scene with Luke. I think. And I won’t think about word count, because this is a first draft, and anything goes. This is a first draft, and anything goes.