Getting out of the house helped today. I’ve been moldering within the first 50 pages of a revision for a few weeks now.
Let me clear: This isn’t a revision of the genteel sort. This is a massive overhaul. This is a rewrite, a restructuring, an upheaval.
Just now I cleared my way through the first 50, and through the next ten pages. I realized that I was stuck-ish (I never admit to writer’s block) because I’d softened my protagonist too much. We’re irrational creatures, we humans, with contradictory impulses and emotions that coexist especially in times of stress and grief. Anger and sadness, resentment and guilt. Inner conflict, need I say more?
Over on Murderati, Stephen Jay Schwartz discussed writing tight. Because, officially, the manuscript isn’t a first draft, I’ve been caught up in writing as lean as possible. Oddly enough, his post got me thinking that I need to liberate the manuscript, which is to say, treat it as a first draft all over again. The truth is that I still don’t feel sure enough about the upheaval to spend the extra time it takes to write tight.
I’ll write in all my wordy and expansive glory, and revise tight later.
If decisiveness is the hallmark of a great leader, then I’m letting myself down in Writingland. I’m sitting here at my computer procrastinating — talk about being the queen of social networking. This kind of queenliness isn’t good for my fiction. This morning I handed over my sceptre to my flaky coregent, who should have abdicated long ago. Today, she reigns supreme first on Facebook, then on various fictionista blogs such as Murderati, The Lipstick Chronicles, and Jungle Red, and now, here, on my blog.
I simply can’t take her seriously at the moment. Off with her head!
Here’s what’s going on in the bigger picture of my fiction pseudo-career: For awhile now I’ve considered self-publishing because I’m getting no joy from the traditional route. I’ve been working hard (between one major bout of depression, one major bout of economic hardship, not to mention the day-job), folks, since 1999.
In the spring, I told myself to give the agent-hunting thing one more heavy push, and if nothing comes of it — that’s it, self-publish. I’ve revised my favorite unpublished novel, and I continue the agent process…
Meanwhile, here I am in Writingland, also known as the Land of Indecision, having handed over my power to the Queen of Procrastination. I take responsibility. I’m being foolish. I need to make a decision about what to work on RIGHT NOW.
I’ve been here before. My ailment is called between-project-itis. It’s an inflammation of the brain that causes me to flounder around for a few days — hopefully only for a few days — while I get my head around the notion of beginning something new. Picture me flopping around, like, say, that time in Hawaii when a wave floated me over a pretty coral bed, then retreated to leave me stranded atop said coral, frantic and splashing while my friends laughed at me (until they saw my bloody wounds — I still have scars on my legs)…
That’s me, flipping, flopping around in berserk fashion. I feel a pull in two directions at once, hence, my indecisiveness. It feels like I need to make a decision based on a career strategy, or some such thing, or else trust my gut…
1. Start a new novel that I developed last year. I’ve got the major plot points, I’ve got the major characters. Will require what all first drafts require: tears and toil.
2. Revise an existing novel that I still feel has oodles of commercial potential. I now know how to revise it to amplify the potential. Will require major historical research.
I’m leaning toward the second option. I figure there’s no reason not to self-publish this novel while pursuing the traditional route with the other one. Right? Right. Did I just make a decision? (I can’t tell…honestly.)