When I finished my first novel I tucked it way for a few weeks to simmer and set. Then my break-need set in as well. I’d completely burned myself out. I knew it was coming on for quite a while. Fast forward to a few months later, and regaining entry has proved more difficult than I expected.
There is a disconnection that happens when you leave a WIP to rest a while. The positives are seeing your piece with fresh, often scrutinizing eyes. The negatives–what you see may or may not be something you like or can even use. Not all we create will be worth a damn in terms of publication, regardless of the time spent–weeks, months–years even.
In my attempt to pick up where I left off, many aspects are working quite well, while others, I see now, must be scrapped. I shall need to rewrite my first chapter for instance. A daunting prospect as it has given me trouble since day one. I would scrap it too if I could figure out how without losing needed story elements. It just refuses to roll off my tongue in the right way. My playlists are providing some needed inspiration and with any luck will carry me through the 25 or so pages.
Any tips for re-entry after letting the novel stew a while? Ideas to trigger to inspiration?
“The long-lived books of tomorrow are concealed somewhere amongst the so-far unpublished mss of today.”
– Philip Unwin
Having been a classical dancer for most of my life, injuries are second nature to me. I’m pretty good with grinning and bearing it. The best example would be spraining my ankle on stage during a performance in front of a few hundred people. I kept dancing that piece and the two pieces that followed. It’s part of the trade. Similar I would say to cutting or burning myself during a dinner rush, while working the line, on a wait. You just keep going.
Being a dancer and a chef taught me a few very valuable lessons. The most important one–Don’t Quit. I am utilizing these lessons in my writing — or trying to.
Let’s face it, writing is hard–very hard at times. And not only because the craft must be mastered, but also because of the emotion needed to create characters, worlds, dialogue and conflict. It’s a struggle.
Not at all unsimilar to struggling with say….an old knee injury. My recurrent knee injury is from many years past (the ankle is good now). I was 15 when my orthopedic doctor suggested, no , he flat-out told me, to quit dancing because of my knee. Ha! Not likely. I do remember making a sort of hyena snorting sound. I didn’t quit. It wasn’t in me to quit. After physical therapy and a few weeks on crutches (because PT was so painful I couldn’t walk out of the office on my own) I was back to my vices.
Later, running became my new source of self-inflicted pain. Due to this marvelous decision on my part, I am back in PT with the same old injury. Riding the stationary bike for miles and miles in burning pain. Yes, I’ve been here before. Me and the bike are old
Eleven miles today at 18 mph and the knee is feeling better. Honestly. Strange how something you hate can actually make you feel better at times. Like the taste of Nyquil. Gotta choke it down but in the morning, you can at least say you slept. Granted, it could be because Nyquil is like 80% alcohol–but that’s another post.
Point here–I have one–is that moving forward or not giving up is a necessary part of life. I hate that damn bike, but I’m gonna keep riding it because it helps me. I hate editing. I reallyyy do, and I hate the place I am in right now with my writing. The stuck place. Can’t move forward–can’t move backward. But I know if I keep peddling, keep pointing my toes, keep my hands away from the flames and KEEP moving straight with my writing–I will be okay.
So DON’T QUIT! My advice to myself, my advice to you. None of what we are doing here is easy. That doesn’t mean it isn’t worthwhile. It just means—well, it means some of us take the long way around instead of plowing through the middle.
Let me just say it.
I’m going to be honest for a second here. I haven’t been writing much. I know! Bad Me. The truth? I’m tired of it. Not writing mind you–I’m tired of my story. Tired of messing with it, tired of editing and trying to make sure it’s where it needs to be, what I want it to be. Maybe that’s a good thing. I finally reached the ‘sick of it’ stage. The problem with this stage, — I am going nowhere.
What’s worse is that I am flirting with starting another novel seed in my plethora of ideas. I know! Bad again. I should be finishing editing #1 and releasing it into the wild. I even created decent cover art after the Gimp fiasco! I should be writing #2 in my series. I should, I should, but I CAN’T right now.
AND….I am ignoring the blog. I’m getting worse and worse at posting. No, No, I don’t need a break, I’ve had a break. What I need is to plant my butt in the chair and write.
So there. Spoiled Laney having another tantrum. Just to let you all know that yes, I’m still here. Still fussing around with 80,000 words I’ve been fussing around with for a year and a half. ;P
Back to the grindstone. That’s code for editing. When in doubt about what you’re trying to write and banging your head against the wall doesn’t help anymore, edit a different work in progress!
Step 1. Reread, again.
Step 2. Cut and rewrite, again.
Step 3. Repeat, again.
Step 4. Question everything.
Step 5. Ditch it and create random blog entries.
Ding, Ding, Ding….I choose number 5.
Happy Memorial Day weekend everyone!
My rewrites are numerous. My ideas…off the chart ridiculous. My scope…? I’m not sure it’s wide enough. And honestly, I’m not sure how to figure it out. I know that sounds stupid. Let me say it this way. I can name any number of my favorite books and point out just where they went right. The reasons the story works and flows. I can name a few other books that all but lose me. Or pick me up and then drop me again. The books that I need more from, more detail, more explanation, more feeling.
I read my book over and over with all the rewrites and editing. Some days, I love it. Other days, I wonder what in the hell? The questioning of my work is what messes me up. Really, I’m fine with that part of the process. The questioning, it’s needed to a point. What I’m not fine with is where to cut it off. When you read your own work so many times, it can feel cluttered and clunky. When I walk away from it for a few days, read it again, I see more hiccups and fix them. Again.
That’s just it. That’s the problem. I could do this same drill for months. I know I could. So when do I leave it the hell alone and know it’s where it needs to be? When I have too many thoughts and ideas at once, my head will likely explode. And I think that’s my issue. Too many ideas. I put my novel down, walk away, come back, read it again and “Hey! I’ve got an idea!” Or worse, “What am I saying??” I don’t know how to turn it off. All this second guessing will likely kill me.