Friday, May 2, 2014

Day 270 of 365: The Absurdity of Looking Back

There are two main obstacles getting between me and finishing my third manuscript:

1) The overwhelming understanding that these last three chapters are where all the good shit goes down. Everything else has been a 200+ page setup for the final showdown, the fallout, and the resolution. If this were a run, this would be Heartbreak Hill: so close to the end, but your tank is on empty and you got an uphill climb ahead of you.

2) My overwhelming sense of perfectionism. If you read this blog with any level of attention, the idea of me being a perfectionist is probably hilarious (what is up, constant grammatical errors and homophone mixups. The joys of writing first thing in the morning when your body hasn't even absorbed your caffeine yet). This affects #1 a bit as well, but it is such a monster in and of itself that it deserves its own bullet point.

The biggest hurdles my perfectionism has created is the recognized need for editing. As I'm writing these perilous last three chapters, I'm already seeing parts of the story that will need additions, deletions, or complete rewrites in order to form a more cohesive story. And part of me wants to put on the brakes and go back for the rewrites.

If we're continuing the running metaphor, that right there is essentially stopping the racing to rerun a route. It just doesn't make sense. You can't get what you need to get done, done, if you are constantly looking back. The only thing I can do is look forward, finish this damn manuscript (which is starting to feel like a marathon run) and then go back. The same way runners will revisit course routes and running times and see where they can improve.

Ask any novelist: writing a novel is the most exciting, frustrating, confusing, debilitating thing you can do. It doesn't matter if you're on manuscript #1 or manuscript #101 (well, if you're hanging out with the likes of Stephen King with your 100+ manuscripts, maybe you have it down pat by now). While my previous manuscripts have given me a better sense of flow and arc, I'm still slashing my way through the woods with absolutely no idea exactly how I'm getting out. And it doesn't make any sense to go back and reroute certain trails in this metaphorical woods. Get out, take a breath, and then see what needs tweeking.

My gut is telling me that this manuscript is going to be worth the trouble it has been and will continue to cause me. But then again, my gut told me it was okay to send a manuscript to a potential employer today without rereading it, only to see that I had misspelled the person's name. My gut is a bit of a prick, so take that as you will.

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