It’s getting really, really hard for me not to believe that statement, especially as I finish up with the middle part of this novel. I’m starting to realize that I made a whole bunch of mistakes pages and pages ago, and that the climaxes just aren’t working without everything set up right.
I know, cognitively, that it’s mostly just psychological and that this book probably isn’t as bad as I think it is, but I’m finding it hard to convince myself of that. I got to the climax of part II yesterday, and it was…not what I’d had in my head. That’s probably what’s frustrating me the most. If I can’t write down the story as I have it in my head, what does that mean? It either means I’m a terrible writer, or that I didn’t get the setup right (or both…gah!).
So…where do I go from here? Throwing out the entire story isn’t an option–I’m not going to allow myself to do that. I could, however, put it on the back burner for a while, let it simmer…or I could do or die and finish the 1.0 draft, no matter how crappy it turns out. I suppose that would accomplish something for my self esteem, but is that the way to best serve the story?
Fortunately, this past week we talked about revision in English 318. Listening to my recording of the class gave me a few ideas. I could make a list of known problems, with their fixes, and continue as if I’d already made them. I think I did that a few times with The Phoenix of Nova Terra, but I don’t know how I feel about that now. I could probably make it work…
The main issue is that I feel very, very distant from this book. A month ago, I was immersed in the thing, writing over a thousand words each day, just chugging it out. Now, for various reasons, other things have come up and drawn away my attention, so I don’t feel that I’m really in this world anymore. I feel like I’m more of an outsider, writing for the sake of writing rather than trying to tell this story the way it wants to be told. I can’t really remember what I wrote a hundred pages ago, despite that big sheet of butcher paper up in my closet.
Another thing that complicates all of this is that I’m really, really excited about the other novel, Genesis Earth. I’ve gotten back comments from most of my alpha readers, and I’m all but chomping at the bit to start working on it again. If I had nothing else going on, no pressing obligations or assignments, with the enthusiasm I have for this project I could probably finish the second draft in a week, and the third draft the week after that.
Well, I think I’m going to start the revision on Genesis Earth today or tomorrow. When I was this enthused about revising Pheonix, I decided to wait and finish Genesis Earth instead, and the enthusiasm for that project died down surprisingly fast. Better to start now than wait until I’ve got the free time but struggle with motivation.
In the meantime, I’m going to finish the current chapter of Bringing Estella Home and let it rest for a bit. I’ll probably reread what I’ve got from the beginning, make a few revision notes, perhaps an outline of sorts–try to figure out what’s wrong, what I need to change to make it work. I’ll restrain myself from actually making those revisions (though I did that, mid-draft, for Genesis Earth, and it turned out alright…sort of), but once I feel I’m sufficiently “into” the story again, I’ll get back to work and finish the 1.0 draft. Hopefully, I’ll be able to do all that before the end of May.
The trouble here is that I’ll probably end up writing the first draft of this novel and revising the other one at the same time…something I tried last September and failed miserably. However, by the time all of this is finished, inshallah school will be over and I won’t have to worry about it. Things are looking really good for me to get an internship in NYC, which makes me think I should drop my Spring classes and just take it easy for a month before I start (as for housing, that’s a whole other conundrum…).
Gah! Writing is complicated. Is this something I want to do for the rest of my life? Something I can do? I don’t know. I really don’t know. I just have to keep on writing through this depressing pessimism and trust that it will pass.
As a side note, I took the title of this post from a Writing Excuses episode some time ago; here is the link to that episode, in case you want to hear it.