All week I’ve struggled to revise the same couple chapters, making very little progress. The nasty voice in my head has had a good old time, telling me I’m not a good writer, that my novel is crap, that there’s no salvaging the mess I’ve made, that I’m delusional to think I can pull off the story I want to tell, etc.
I started to believe that.
Because of all my revising, moving back-and-forth within the first 100+ pages, I was confused and disoriented regarding plot lines and character motivations. I didn’t know which way was up. So. This afternoon, I resorted to The Running Start Technique. I went back to page 1 and read through to my sticking point on page 104, taking notes along the way to remind myself exactly certain key events happened.
I hadn’t spun my wheels all this week because I’m a bad writer; rather, somewhere inside me I understood that I was headed in the wrong direction. The reason I didn’t make forward progress wasn’t because I suck, but because I wasn’t supposed to go that way. Stubborn tenacity isn’t always a good thing, yo. Whew. I feel so much better about my work-in-progress and me right now.
The sad/funny/pathetic/embarrassing thing is, I’ve already experienced that exact same stalled feeling followed by the Hey, Trace! You’re taking the wrong road! realization. Multiple times. I can only hope that the next time it happens (and it will), the nasty voice is banished much more quickly.
Where did the day go? Last thing I knew, I was sitting down to figure out some stuff about the fictional community I’m creating. I did learn lots about pea viners and farming trends, and my revision notes are more fleshed out. I definitely made progress.
Still. Where did the day go?
You’ve spent the entire day in revision mode, staring at a computer screen.
Time for a cool cloth and some yoga.
There’s no limit to how complicated things can get,
on account of one thing always leading to another.
~ E. B. White
I don’t know the context for this quotation, but it speaks to me today as I struggle to revise my once tightly-plotted novel. The changes I’m making are needed and will strengthen the manuscript. I know this. But that knowledge doesn’t make the process any easier or less painful.
Every single tug on a story thread results in a temporary snarl that must be untangled in order for the revisions to flow. Today it feels as if I’m falling behind on the untangling process.
I’m hoping E.B. White was wrong and that there is actually a limit on how complicated things can get.
It was a productive day in the revision cave
and I’m feeling a bit like this:
Theda Bara in “Cleopatra,” 1917
Focused and just a wee bit crazed.
(Hey, it’s a better look than pasty-faced Tom Wolfe in his white suit.)
This guy was at the feeder that hangs right outside our living room window. When I sat to watch him liberate shelled peanuts from the cylinder, he immediately copped an attitude. He was furious that I was interfering with his efforts, and most certainly the chatter aimed at me was profane.
This squirrel’s head about popped off.
I admired him so much. Check out his body language. At first glance, you’d think the guy was chill, focused and absolutely motionless. Except. Note the blurred tail.
That is my goal for today as I tackle my revisions: to work with intense focus while also keeping in constant motion.
. . . if your cats won’t even look you in the eye
Today’s revision work felt a bit like mucking around in the pipes. It was worth the somewhat grimy effort, though, because all plot and subplot lines are now in synch and flowing quite nicely. Hallelujah!
Now if only I could pee standing up.