Writing Wednesday: That “This is so stupid” Phase Has Arrived.
(We’re just not going to address the epic fail of posting from Sunday until now.)
(Except for that just there.)
Due to this, that, and the other thing, there hasn’t been much chance for writing in the last few weeks. I was busy building the Etsey website, editing things, watching other people’s children, etc. And so it was with great delight I sat down Monday at last, ready to write. Surely I was refreshed and ready. Surely I would sail through it all.
Surely that was a really fucking easy setup.
Yeah, it’s not refreshed, ready, or sailing. Trudging, yes. Slogging, absolutely. Clunking: frequently. Failing to click. Sucking ass. Failing to interest me. Spawning at least six shiny alternative projects which I would LOVE to be working on instead of this. And add to that, now it’s Mercury in Retrograde.
This is the It Sucks portion of the writing process. Mine, anyway. Pacing kills, every phrase is mundane or trite, every character feels cliched. Ten minutes at the document makes me want to nap. Or clean something. God save me, anything but this goddamned manuscript. And meanwhile I have other stuff I really, really need to be working on, and I feel panicked and try harder, only to feel more tired and more frustrated.
Ah, writing. So much fucking fun.
To compound it all, I know damn well this is just a trap. It doesn’t suck. The pacing is at best in need of a tweak. In fact, it’s all probably really good or missing just one small piece or needing one removal. But it’s absolutely true that I can’t see it now and that I just need to keep going even though it feels like every note is wrong.
This part of my process always reminds me of making pie crust. I use my grandmother’s recipe which always looks like it won’t ever form the ball it’s supposed to, and right at the point you become absolutely convinced that this time it truly won’t is always when it magically conceals. Every time, almost as if that doubt is critical to formation. I tell myself it’s the same with the story. I tell myself all manner of shit, in fact, anything to keep momentum going. I make bargains and set rewards. I treat myself that the whiny toddler I have essentially become, anything to get through to the next phase: Eureka. When the dough forms into a ball and all of a sudden it’s a novel, just like magic.
Also accompanied at this point are requests by well-meaning friends who want to read it and tell me that it’s fine. This is the equivalent of a crack pipe, by the way, so don’t offer. I come close every now and again to asking Marie, but sainted woman, she never offers, and the wise part of me keeps my mouth shut. I broke the rule on Dance With Me because I was so fucked I couldn’t see sideways, and it did help, but it wasn’t what my toddler self wanted, which was cooing and adoration. It was "yeah, something’s wrong," and then the wrong fix, which actually totally helped because it helped me find the right one. But normally, no, I need to keep this to myself.
I suspect it’s because what really happens at this point is that I become so deep in the story I can no longer maintain perspective in the global sense. It’s the narrowing neck of the bottle, and it isn’t until I see the lip of the opening that I really get that it’s going to let me out, not circle back in like a handle. It’s not that I’ve screwed up so much as it is that I have become necessarily blind, and I really hate to lose control. The blindness is part of the cycle, and for whatever reason, so is the fear and doubt. Maybe it really is the magic ingredient. Maybe that sense of OH SHIT is what fires the furnaces and gets us to The End.
Or maybe I just unnecessarily complicate things as usual. Either way, this is my road, and I’m going down it. Bitching and whining and kvetching all the way.