Thursday, November 12, 2009

Negative Talk and Positive Dreams

Last night I had a dream in which I gave up writing my jinni book and began writing about a depressed teenager. I can't remember now what it was that made me fall in love with the new story, but I wrote about fifteen pages of it in my sleep. (Too bad I can't count it for my NaNo stats.)

I do know, however, what made me fall out of love with my jinni book. It's hard. It's starting to feel like meaningless "fluff." I am grasping at straws, trying to figure out what should happen next. I have no idea how I'm going to fill out the next 40k words---in 2.5 weeks!

I spent most of Tuesday writing, which made me
feel accomplished and, well, optimistic. I must have out-written myself, because yesterday I think I might have written 200 words. It was as if my writing brain ran a half-marathon on Tuesday and couldn't get out of bed yesterday. And not only could it not get out of bed, but it bemoaned the future and everything it had written the day before. "It's silly," my writing brain said. "No one will take you seriously if they read this." The day drudged on with me unable to get through an "exciting, adventurous" scene. I wanted depth, and meaning, and where are depth and meaning in a fight with a sea monster?*

Images of well-known editors flashed across my mind, all of them smoking long cigarettes and shaking their heads at my frivolous jinni book.

By then, I despised my little book. And I yearned, desperately, for a reincarnation of my first novel, ROHANA. I wanted to fix that one. I had figured out the plot problems. ROHANA is a deep, meaningful book** and has "literary merit." As I finally slipped off to sleep, I realized that fixing ROHANA is a daydream because it's just easier to revise than to actually write a first draft.

So what would that make me? A Reviser? Surely not a writer.

Writers finish their work. They tackle the gooey hodgepodge of words they have strung together and pad it out with more gooey words. They brave the possibility that someone might see the mess and exclaim that their true destiny is... joining a circus. They finish their manuscripts because if they don't, it will keep poking them in the head, begging to be fleshed out. Nashwa, my main character, would be both insulted and aggravated if I gave up on her. She would slip into my dreams and force me to face her. (And she's a soul stealer and wise in the art of jinn magic, so I would have a hard time putting her back in a corner.)

From now on (or at least for the next two hours), I will put my pride aside and write crap. When the crap dries, I will pull out my Revision Dremel and grind it down into something more presentable. Then I will add more crap, grind it back infinitum. (Well, not forever, hopefully.)
Nashwa, as I see her

One other thing: I will not look at published authors' websites today and worry that I am not successful because a) I was not 17 when I wrote my first novel, b) I don't have a beautiful writing cottage with a magic window, and c) I don't have thousands/hundreds/a couple of snarky followers.

* A wise woman told me today that even "fluff" books have meaning---if it makes a child fall in love with reading, then it has meaning.
**Or so I like to think. I mean, it's my first book-baby, after all.


Kaylie said...

You nailed it. There's a gemstone hidden somewhere underneath all the crap, right?
Published authors' blogs can be intimidating, for sure. Sometimes I'm even intimidated by your blog (you've written more and you've got an agent, so you're ahead of me). I think it's important to have mentors every step of the way.

Ian said...

Scribble here from the BB's.
you're right, don't give up, just grind it on out until the words flow (and they will).
As Kaylie says, you have an agent so you definitely can write, that's for sure, those guys are like gold dust (+1 for the intimidated here too).
Anyway, I think from what you have mentioned in your blog, the idea sounds pretty cool.
Btw, I had a dream last night I was starting work at a publishers and Marlon Wayans was my trainer/mentor, weird!

Vijaya said...

Yup, I much prefer to revise, but there is a thrill with that first draft, even if it's all crapola.

I've been revising earlier pages and going forwards, which means sometimes my word count goes under. Can you tell I'm good at hacking? So at the end of the day, if I have more words than what I started out with, I'm making progress ...

Keep the dreams. Hey, how was the writing retreat? Wasn't it this past weekend?

Anna said...

NaNo is all about shutting off the judging part of your brain and just pushing ahead. November you write crap, and after that you revise and polish until it's the story you want it to be. Sounds simple, right? :-)
Good luck!

Amber Lough said...

Aw, thanks guys! And don't be intimidated by ME, of all people! I barely convinced respect when I was a military officer with a handgun.

Jacqui said...

Oh, the "is this DEEP enough?" problem is one I know all too well. But here's the thing: the story is what's important. And I think you nailed it when you said all of this negative energy is coming from the difficulty of it all. Whenever I hit a hard part of my work, I start wondering why I even do it. Stupid inner writer brain.

Plus, I want to READ it, so you HAVE to write it.

Nishant said...

I much prefer to revise, but there is a thrill with that first draft, even if it's all crapola.
Work from home India

Lia Mack said...

I totally agree with the main character coming back to haunt you if you don't finish! My MC pestered me for 4 years! She so wanted to get with her man. And when they finally met - 4 years later ;) - it was electricity!

If I don't clean up their love scene and make it more potent, I'm sure have me on a platter again ;)