Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Sometimes I Forget

Sometimes I forget one of the most fundamental lessons I've learned about writing (and, probably, one of the most fundamental lessons in life):

Nothing is written in stone.

I forgot this lesson this past weekend and got myself caught up in a full blown panic attack as I felt like the novel was careening out of control just as I was reaching out for the homestretch. I felt like I'd lost touch with the novel's essential themes and was adding endless new (and, most likely, unnecessary) scenes that were only set-blocking. Scenes that had no dramatic reason for being included except for the fact that I had to go from Point A to Point D and the logic circuits of my brain were saying that I had to include Points B and C as well, but they were dramatically uninteresting and not relevant to the plot of the novel.

And I so wanted to be done with the draft this weekend so I could go back being somewhat functional. Even I'm getting tired of putting things off "until after the novel's done" and I'm sure everyone around me is sick of this excuse, too (I mean, I missed all of Lit Quake (SF's fantastic two-week long literary festival at which some of my friends and favorite authors were reading) because, at this point in writing, I don't want to hear, see or read anyone else's words except my own).

In the clear, bright-eyed post-Halloween morning, I realize my panic is unnecessary. Yes, those scenes will probably be edited out or changed so they are dramatically relevant BECAUSE NOTHING IS WRITTEN IN STONE. Even years after his books were published, Faulkner was still revising them and editing them to get closer to what he was intending to say. I don't want to be like that. I want there to be an end point, but, and here's the main point: at this point in the writing process, no matter how much I want it to be the end, it's not. And there isn't anything that's on paper right now that can't be changed, eliminated or made stronger.

So, I'm better now. Feeling a little more grounded in the novel. I had to mark a couple of places as "come back to this" just to get myself back in alignment with the ending, and I may have to work backwards from my ending to make sure everything lines up, that the emotional clock ticks forward the way it's supposed to (right now it feels like my main character veers too suddenly, goes from being a good kid to being a bad-ass).

It's uncomfortable, feeling the novel go out of control like this right at the end, but as long as I keep breathing and reminding myself that I can fix whatever I don't like, I should be okay.

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