Monday, January 28, 2013

Just keep going and going

Starting to get the editing itch. I printed out the manuscript a few weeks ago. It's about a hundred pages longer than the first copy. Not a great sign, but I find that my first copy is where I put everything. No idea is too small or insignificant for that first draft. Soon I'll find a day in the office (preferably a Friday) when I can kick back and read through this beast as quickly as possible. Last time I took spare notes on my draft and never once looked at them. I just re-wrote the whole draft from memory (a mighty selective memory might I add). Now I really want to try and keep track of everything. I feel like a good flow chart or outlining device is going to be necessary to really keep this thing in order. We'll see. It's all about learning the process at this point. No one can teach you 'the process' in any art unless you go and do it yourself. I'm trying to do most of this without too much advice out there to bog it all down. There is plenty of great advice that I know I must heed once the story is truly finished, but until then...

In the meantime, I'm still (mostly) putting out 2,000 words/day of new, crappy 1st draft stuff. Sundays are bad days for productivity. While I've managed at least 1k every day between Monday and Saturday, I've managed a total of 1,000 words in the four Sundays in January. Might be time to cut myself some slack. It's easy to hold my own face to the fire and say, "Write it every day no matter what!" but I'm working 6 days a week to push about 60 hours total. Sunday is my only off day, which you'd think would help, but really it only hinders. Suddenly I don't have an excuse to say no to that dinner with Dad or that drink with a friend or a myriad of other things. At first, it felt great to say, "No thanks. I'm writing a novel today." But man, after a year of doing that? Something about this month has just made me want to get out a little more when I get that chance.

This is where I think the loneliness of writing really starts to set in. A year ago, it was all exciting and new and flashy. I had a story that seemed clear as day. Only it wasn't. The only clear thing about this piece was the emotion. Somehow I feel like I'm not alone. When I think of a work, any work that means anything at all to me, it's not the structure or the plot intricacies that really hang me up (not at the daydreaming stage anyways). It's that raw emotion. This first shelved draft comes down to a few feelings that drove me to The End. This thing I'm working on now? Same deal. You pick a few emotions, you slap them on some people you like, and you hit the gas. And you feel the rush as you create and improve upon your creation, but no one feels it with you. No one sees you come back day after day to the same desk, to the same process, to the same document that hardly looks any different to anyone except you. A year ago, I made the grave (yet to be repeated) error of showing a few family members and friends the opening of my work (in first draft form) and since then people (read: my parents) ask about it all the time (read: once or twice over the last year) and all I can say is, "It's not done. Not even close." It's a lonely ride, but it can literally be no other way. If you want to reach The End, you have to run those miles alone.

You can't take people along for the ride when you're writing or painting or making a song. You can't show them the hours upon hours you spent on a project no one will ever see. You can't show them the myriad of failed projects that, in their own way, pave the way to successes later in life. In fact, if readers do see all your labor, all your pain, and all your doubts on the page, then you probably did something wrong. More and more, it seems to me that art is about pushing yourself beyond any reasonable limit to make something practically useless that might make you money, but will probably just make you crazy. And yet, more and more I realize it could be no other way.

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