I met with my writer friend last week and told her of my plan. Well, she gave me such a scolding (you know, the ‘tough love’ kind) that I’d have to reconsider my plan that I laid out before. Not the whole thing, no, just the decision to go back and fill in the holes. She said it’s better if I just keep going and fill the holes later, because by the time I finish the whole first draft the book might be changed a lot, again, and then I’d have to go back and rewrite everything that I’ve rewritten, again, so it’s not productive and waste time. You won’t see the whole thing until you finish it, right? So I should just ignore all those empty plot holes and stuff that doesn’t make sense and keep writing until you’re done.
I did not like that, because I’m the type of person who has to make sure everything is perfect before I go on. So moving on while everything sucks is torture to me. But she’s right about me being stuck, though, so I think I’m going to listen to her and move on. Yikes! I’m not sure what’s going to happen because there are so many things that I have to resolve and so many things I have to research, but moving on is important, so I think I’ll just have to grit my teeth and go. I see why authors usually abuse some kind of substance now. One is because they tend to be depressed, but the other one is that moving forward requires courage and a bit booze or weed would make you lose your inhibitions and fear. Allegedly. I’m not going to abuse anything because that’s bad for me in general haha. So I guess a lot of relaxing video games is the way to go?
I started working again. After the two-month health hiatus. Before I continued anything, though, I did a thorough re-evaluation of what I’ve written so far. Because I’m pretty much half way in (got 40k words, aiming for 80k now instead of 60k because that’s just not long enough) I thought it’d be a good idea to see what needed work, how the timeline changed, character development, etc. Well, let’s just say I spent a good few days re-writing the entire outline. And what I’ve realized is – holy crap there’s a whole lot of holes I have to fill that I have not written yet. Including any and all research on the McGuffin item that I’m going for. Great.
So. I’ve decided that I’m going to go back and sorta star over? No, I’m not rewriting the entire novel, but I am going to go and streamline what I’ve written and fill in the holes. Which is quite a feat because I’ve kind of re-written the entire character development arc of a character, and so NONE of her pieces had been written. Great. But I figure if I do now just saves me time to do later. I mean it doesn’t do me any good to finish the first draft and then basically have to rewrite 90% of the second draft when I can finish the first draft a bit later and rewrite 50% of the second draft, right? I don’t know. Maybe I’m wrong, but I’m going with the first option right now. Plus, I feel really stuck on where I am because so much had change since I started that I don’t even know my character’s motivation anymore because it changed in the course of me writing. I assume that’s the normal process of writing but my god, sure feels like pulling teeth. And unproductive. I just have to steadily add words. How hard can that be?
(yeah, rhetorical depressing question don’t think about it too much).
So I’ve had sort of an epiphany like, earlier this week. I’m redoing an outline for my novel, because it has progressed to the point where my current outline doesn’t make much sense anymore, so I figure I’ll just write a detailed summary and then break it up to sections (also thinking of reorganizing the file so it’s by actual chapters order instead of grouped by narrators). I thought it’ll just be a basic rewrite with some things added. Nope. The big elements are still around but everything else needed a change, because it made no logical sense for one person to react to point B when they’ve just went through point A, etc.
And it dawned on me. Why is my novel taking such a long time? Because it’s a friggin’ complicated novel! Holy smokes, batman! My novel has 5 narrators, each with their own subplot, an overarching plot, both emotional and physical trials, and it’s in a completely made up semi-steampunk without the Earth Victorian setting. I needed to do more research on the technology (magnets, how do they work?!) and…yeah. So. It might not sound too challenging, but it’s no way an “easy” or “simple” novel. And I had thought this was a short story/novella length when I first started out. George RR Martin took like 5-10 years to write a single GoT book. I don’t think (hopefully not!) this’ll take me 10 years to write, but for a first novel this is a little insane, I think.
Or maybe I’m just feeling overwhelmed and some actual writers’d be like, that’s normal it ain’t Finnigans Wake. Well, Finnigans Wake took 17 years so, me spending about 3 years on my novel doesn’t seem too far-fetched. At least now I don’t feel super bad that I’m taking so long, because it’s not because I super suck, it’s just that for a first novel it’s pretty hard to write.
Today is one of those days where I just don’t feel like working. I want to lie down on the bed, get some snacks, and read or play some video games. It’s Saturday, I know, but seriously my job has no “days off,” or can have one any day of the week, which I’ve deemed, so far, as Wednesday. And today is not it!
My novel feels endless. I mean, it’s moving forward, yes, but the end goalpost keeps moving too. It has blossomed from a novella to a full blown novel of 40k and now it’s going toward 60k with no stopping. I feel like I’m at the half way mark since forever. It feels so discouraging! Everybody just tells me to “keep pushing” but, what if the push takes 10 years? OK, it won’t take 10 years, hopefully, but another year is a total possibility and that makes me so sad. I’m supposed to be done with this this month and move on to my short stories. What in the seventh hell?
I feel like I know exactly what to do with my life, but that goal is bad. It’s like someone deemed their goal in life is to eat Cheetos and watch TV. Yeah, it’s a goal, but you’ll die if you don’t make money. And that’s where I am. I’m writing a novel with no money. I’m only lucky that I have a supportive family and stuff. And what am I doing? Writing at a snail’s pace on ONE novel, forever. It’s ridiculous. But even keeping up with the daily word count is hard. I should be pushing myself to the limit, but I’ve done that, and all that did was drive me into further depression and completely block my creative side. I’ve learned to pace myself now, but then, the pace is way too slow. It’s like nothing ever goes right in this career path. But then I also don’t know, literally, how to do anything else. And if I try to start over (i.e. give up writing and find a “normal” job), well, I’ve been out of work for five years. So yeah, it’ll be shit with shit pay and shit hours, so, again, not helping any either. It’s really not worth it.
I’m alright. It’s just one of those days. I don’t know what to do with myself besides keep going.
I just want to quickly update that I was so stressed yesterday about my writing. Getting back into the work after a long vacation and sleepless days is daunting, and I’m sorry, but I wasn’t able to push through like most normal people would’ve. I freaked out that my outline is completely bonkers (again) and everything I write sucks and my novel is doomed and I’m never going to be a writer, etc. etc. I’ll spare you the drama. The point is, I thought I had to rework my ridiculously not working novel from scratch, again.
Today I bit the bullet, chugged some tea, and just looked at my outline again. Not even thinking of writing (as I am already behind on my June goal, since I didn’t write yesterday, or today, yet). And I looked at the last, most recent outline I had, and realized that….
IT WAS FINE.
Like, okay, I had to tweak a few paragraphs and maybe add a chapter or two to build character and relationships and bridge some plot. But overall, it was workable, I wrote most of the stuff, and IT. WAS. FINE.
What the fuck brain? Made me freak out for two days when I could just be going on working like, bloody hell. I could definitely just pick up where I left off and keep going with the novel. Oy.
I’m so hopeless. Note to self. Before you freak out go back and READ WHAT YOU HAD. Second time this happened in like the past half year. I swear I need an AI to constant tell me “here’s what you already done look it’s PERFECTLY FINE to continue your work”. In a sexy, calming way like J.A.R.V.I.S. does of course. You know, I really need J.A.R.V.I.S. or SAM in my life. Get on it Microsoft! One freakout over nothing is one freakout too many!
Sooo I spent the past two days wrangling with my novel’s timeline, now that I’m pretty deep into it and need to make adjustments. I was driving myself bonkers because I couldn’t decide if I wanted to include more character POVs or not, and some of the details and order of the events didn’t jive with me, so I combed through my plotline again. And again. And many times trying to make heads or tails of it.
And then I happened to click on an old timeline – the original one I wrote way back in October – just to see what it had. And of course I discovered that it’s friggin’ perfect. Like, everything makes sense and is logical and there’s a very, very good spread of different character POVs. It’s exactly what I was working towards, and I apparently already have it, for a long time. I just forgot that it existed.
Note to self: CHECK WHAT YOU HAVE before devoting time doing useless things. Oy. The good news is that now I have a full, detailed chapter list, and all I need to do is stick to the script and write the damn thing. The bad news is, well, now I have to keep writing the damn thing. Isn’t that always the kicker when it comes to authoring, though? This continual self-motivated work life. It is the pits.