This thing keeps happening, and I don’t know that I ever wrote about it because, unlike you, I don’t read my weblog. I just write it. The catharsis comes before I hit "SAVE." It isn’t really meant for later observation.
So, anyway, this thing keeps happening whereby the book is going well, and then… it seems adrift. There’s a fork in the narrative road, and a few steps down the path, it is a question of whether the path is the right one. Typically, my instinct on this book is to trust my subconscious.
This morning, when I went to write, it wasn’t there. I just knew that every word I would write, and I could have easily banged out my 2K and called it, would be erased later. I know I’m only a few steps down the wrong path, so it’s just a matter of retracing my steps.
The solution is always obvious, but there is always anxiety in these moments. Like when I knew I had to write this draft from scratch, and not do such a massive edit that it would really just be writing anyway, with a lot more difficulty attached.
But these choices always lead to me not doing as much work as I should. But not today. Right now, the plan is to go to the gym, bang out the workout, and then settle in for as long as I need to get things where they should be. And, once that happens, I still owe the novel 2,000 words for today.
I mean, this stuff doesn’t matter to anyone else in the world right now. No one sees the book but me. No one honestly even knows the book but me. Just need to get past all the craziness of it going full-stop when something goes wrong.
OK, what I’m about to write, it does feel as though I’ve written here before. But, anyway, it seems like sometimes when I write, I get hung up on the process. Not the process of the writing, but the processes that are occurring inside the book. Like, in Fight Club, other clubs just start popping up and that information is given to the reader as it is given to the narrator. My narrator is involved in setting up a huge thing from the ground up, but the point is… who cares what steps are involved?
It is a constant battle to realize what is important for me to know as compared to what readers will give a shit about. And, where things are now? Yawn. And the strange part is, when I am writing it, it is essential and interesting. When I give it an edit later that day, boring.
The book is supposed to be lean. But not lean based on me being a former journalist who is used to sucking all detail out of a piece because of space constraints and deadlines. It needs to give you everything you need to know, and leave no questions.
Kind of like when Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz starts down the yellow brick road, and you know that Judy Garland is running on a real set toward a painted backdrop. Is she runs a few more feet, she will crash into a wall. My job is getting the right balance of road to pull you in and make it real, but also knowing when things are suitable as backdrop. And sometimes, the lines are blurry; my sets are too big to be cost-effective.
If anything, the more I write, the sooner I can recognize when things go off-track. I mean, I could only be five pages off at this point. I know that all will be fixed before I go to bed today, so it can’t be massive.
The big question is why these moments make me freeze up. Why anything that is not writing another 2,000 words for the pile is somehow wrong.
Part of it is questioning whether I am doing something positive, or preventing myself from finishing. Now, there is no evidence that I am even doing any of this, but both writing the book and changing my body have been such huge goals forever, there is a natural fear that subconsciously, I will be afraid to finish them.
By conservative estimates, the book should be done by May, and the body June or July (accounting for naturally losing less weight as I get closer to my goal), so there is a ton of second-guessing going on at all times. If I eat a vegan chocolate chip cookie (as I did at yesterday’s Bruce Willis movie, Hostage), it is an internal dialogue as to whether I deserved a cookie, craved a cookie, or am just subconsciously undermining myself.
Using the same logic, lack thereof, or overthinking, the question is, would the book remain off-track if I continue. If it is only a 10-page tangent that would regain the proper story, then it can be edited out later, just continue. Then again, is it a new path that would get us away from the story that should be told, leaving us with something that arrives at the same place, only with far less impact? if so, stop and kill this tangent immediately.
I tell everyone finishing the book is my goal, not publishing the book. That is true, although as soon as I finish it, the intention is to try and sell it. But the point isn’t merely finishing. It is writing something important, heartfelt, funny, and thought-provoking.
Something that, once I finish, makes me wonder how the hell I could ever accomplish something this massive ever again.
And then trying to.