October 10, 2003

write-fright

Itís always odd to talk about the writing process without either giving concrete examples from the text or just devolving into page counts. (I wrote ten pages today! Iím so happy! or I rewrote the same paragraph twenty times! Iím going to go jump off a cliff now, goodbye cruel world.) Nevertheless, itís an enormous part of my life and thoughts and part of what I want to do with this blog is record that process, writing a novel for the first time. So bear with me if it doesnít always make sense. Or, well, call me on it. Thatís what the comments are for. (Only be nice, okay? Okay.)

Here I am with it: Iím approximately halfway through my novel. 216 pages, to be exact. 43,502 words, to be more exact. Sometimes Iím convinced the whole thing is overly dramatic, has a hokey concept, and lacks all subtlety or human truth to it. Other times I reread a passage and think, ďHey, I wrote that. Cool.Ē

I took two months off, came back to it, read through from page 100 or so, made copious notes, rewrote (painfully slowly Ė I hate rewriting), and now Iím ready to begin moving forward again. And Iím scared. Why is that?

I think itís simple. I donít know what comes next. When I read the pages Iíve already written, I see what Iíve done wrong and some of what Iíve done right. I see the shape of it and it feels as if it was meant to be like that Ė or, if not, then a fairly close approximation thereof. Itís a tangible object, words on a page, shapes in your mind. But when I then go to write forward, well, thatís all make-believe, isnít it? Chimerical, an optical illusion on the road, shimmering and disappearing in my mind. If I have a thought-picture of what comes next, thatís sometimes enough and I can write a sentence or two and then step back into the flow. But sometimes itís not. Sometimes I wrote that bit and then stop dead, stuck.

I think itís a kind of stage fright. You have to be both hyper-conscious and semi-unconscious to write well. Evaluating, shaping, imagining, but not thinking too hard about the process itself. Right now? Iím thinking too hard. I havenít told new story since mid-summer. Iím afraid of new story. What if I get it wrong?

Someone give me a kick in the pants. For now, Iím going to go stare at the screen some more and hope my fingers decide to type something more than gibberish.

Posted by Tamar at October 10, 2003 03:45 PM