Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Head vs. Page: CAGEMATCH

So I'm only a third of the way into SALVAGED, and I already had to take a brief pause in forward progress to wrangle it.

Why? It's the age-old dilemma: the utterly fabulous, sparkly, life-changing, AMAZING book that's in my head is...not the same one on the page.

This always happens (apparently to Other People as well), so at least I know to expect it. But still, it's disappointing, that first failure, when I realize that the book is NOT going as I want it to.

See, when I first start it is SO glorious. It is the biggest rush ever, like "oh I am SUCH a genius", "this is the best idea in the universe", "how has everyone else not written this brilliant book already", "but no it was waiting for ME to excecute this idea, because I know how."

Yes, ego in the first 5-10k knows no bounds.

Then at about 10k, usually, I look up from the feverish happy-writing and say HMMMM. "This is kind of tangled," I say. "This is not as shiny as it promised to be" and "What the HELL is going on with this book anyway?"

I keep writing it, because I know I must. But then it gets more messy. And I change my mind about what's going to happen, and one paragraph invalidates about 3 previous chapters. By the time I get to about 20k or so, I lay my head down on the desk and weep softly.

Okay, I don't. But I do stare at the screen with great irritation. I don't know if it's ME who has failed the sparkly book, or the book who has failed the sparkly me. But one of us has to figure it out, and fast, before it becomes another idea withered on the vine at 20k.

So this week, I'm reconciling. I did a *gasp* OUTLINE of where I really want it all to go, and how it will fit together. I did character backstories, so I'm consistent and they're all a little deeper than my first shiny glances. I take a look at structure and figure out where it's going waytoofast and way...too...boring.

And then I FIX it. Hopefully. I'm about done with all my notes and thoughts and planning stuff, and about to go straighten up that first 20k.

And then, my friends, I get to Keep Going, but at least I won't be all twisted up in myself.

At least I know that at some point it DOES get sparkly again. Maybe 24 drafts from now, but some happy someday!


Amethyst Greye Alexander said...

*high five and mug clinking*


Found myself there about three weeks ago. I knew all the whys and whofors, but couldn't for the life of me keep it straight enough in my head (trilogies!) to know the exact nature of the how-to's.

But it's okay. A synonym for 'outline' might be 'oracle'.


Susan Adrian said...

Amethyst: If we keep wrangling, we'll pin 'em in the end!

DA said...


I feel your pain. I am the revision queen. You and I know it gets better - the manuscript - not the need to slice and dice like the Ripper. _That_ never ends.

Chin up. I have double-chocolate chip cookies for added support. Just say the word.


courtney said...

When Regina Spektor was asked about her creative process in an interview, she said the song in her head never became the lyrics she wrote or the melody she played. And her songs are freaking amazing! Maybe what's coming out on the page will ultimately be better than what you envisioned. :)

Ara Burklund said...

So much truth! The first 5-10K words are like writing with beer goggles instead of reading glasses.

Susan Adrian said...

Deb: Oh, it's not really pain. It's just part of the process. But yes, chocolate chip cookies ALWAYS help!!

Courtney: I like how you think, bb.

Ara: HA!!! Yes.

glovin said...

I feel your pain. I know it gets better - the manuscript It's just part of the process. But yes, chocolate chip cookies ALWAYS help!

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