Monday, December 6, 2010

Tough week

Well, I guess the lesson of the last week is about the need for perseverance. When in doubt, just sit down and keep battering away.

So much of this work is resisting the intellectual impulse. Knowing when not to try and fix and understand and repair but just to keep building mud pies and float along on innocent, ignorant faith.

I think I'm at a crucial moment in the story where all the inherent weaknesses mixed in to the foundation cement stones at the very beginning are revealing themselves in seemingly catastrophic cracks as I near the climax. I can't bring it to a satisfying resolution so much as reveal how the "it" has all along been a muddled patchwork man dressed up like a real person.

That crucial moment can make me freeze up. The inclination is to try to find the right combination of putty and paint to make it all seem to work, but I know in my heart that isn't going to work, so I sit around fretting and doing nothing. Or trying to think my way out of the problem.

That's how most of last week went. Finally I remembered the core lesson -- just sit down, give up any agenda or expectations, and start writing something. The goal isn't to finish but to produce something. Don't expect it to work, and if you're lucky it will reveal a path to what could work.

And I think that's what I've got. I write about 6,000 words over 6 days of working last week. (Up to something like 63,000 now.) And what I wrote is near total crap. But that little bit that isn't total crap is my trail of bread crumbs out of this mess. It's the hint of the deeper emotion and deeper theme of the story. If I develop it, it will mean a million changes in what I've written already.

But the work so far is necessary to get to this point. I want it to go like a flowchart, like the perfect to do list. That's an idiotic delusion. Maybe this will end up coming to me 10% faster than the last book, but it won't be fast. Especially if I can't recognize these roadblocks as such and hope that I can think my way past them.

I have a first "zero draft" of my so-called "false peak" chapter. It's shit, but that's a better problem than being stuck.

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