Sunday, January 17, 2010

Counting what I tend to discount

I tend to categorize and pigeonhole and to put little mental asterisks next to things that don't resemble exactly everything else in a given pigeonhole. It's a bad tendency toward black-and-white thinking in a process where that is least likely to be helpful. Also, as you've seen, I measure my progress by counting things.

So I'm in a confusing period right now with nothing much to count but knowing that I ought to feel like I'm making progress anyway. I want to think of the work in two different aspects -- the preparatory/notetaking/journaling aspect and the actual drafting. I even keep that work in two separate notebooks, and I tend to count as "writing" what happens in the drafting notebook. But those two different aspects of the work are not so different at this stage. It's a blurry line, and out of frustration that I don't quite know what to write at the moment, I turn to my prep notebook to talk myself through it and end up doing a little bit of writing that I wish had emerged in my drafting notebook.

So for that reason, I can say I've made some measure of progress on the manuscript every day, including over the weekend, and I'm up over 6,000 words.

But still it is all background and character sketching and not yet tackling the present action plot. Which is the main challenge of this confusing period. I'm trying to figure that out still (it goes hand-in-hand with figuring out the characters, by the way) but my personal time line is to be drafting at this point. The story just isn't ready to be written. It's not that it won't be or can't be or that it's a flawed or lost project. My little tugs of despair or really only the result of an unreasonable time line that I've imposed on myself and the subsequent tendency to discount the necessary work that I am doing of finding the story and characters. That has to happen, and I've tried to rush it.

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