My apartment is a disaster. There are dishes scattered about, paper strewn, twice-worn clothes in a heap. My ass has been reshaped into the form of the cushion, and it hurts. My shoulders are killing me. I’m sick of listening to music.
“No! Take it back!” you say. For I am never sick of listening to music, as you, dear reader, probably know by now.
But I have been sitting in this same spot, listening to music and staring at this novel for the last twelve hours. I had determined that a four-day weekend was plenty of time to finish the ten scenes that I haven’t been able to find the time to write for the last ten months.
OK, to be fair, I did write some of them. But writing scenes inspires a need to write more scenes, so no matter how much I wrote the conclusion of the novel seemed at least ten scenes away.
Believe it or not, in those twelve hours I got very little writing done. Hardly a page.
Instead, something even better happened. It was like a gift from my fairy godmother!
I had been miffed at myself of late. I had had plenty of good ideas for character, dialog, description (etc.) and not taken the time to get those ideas down. Then when I wanted to go write them later, of course the words didn’t take shape quite as easily.
I thought because I had been keeping up with entering the changes in my edited drafts, that I had most of the hand-written scenes entered.
I was wrong. I was so wrong.
Turns out those good ideas had been put to paper. I decided to go through every journal I have used since I started the novel and finally type in every last scrap of anything that I had hand-written but not entered into the draft yet. We are talking eight journals and assorted random pieces of paper. They were sentence fragments on legal pads, plotpoints in margins, conflict and dialog written sideways on notes from work meetings, whole scenes in journals I was sure would have nothing but diary entries cataloging various breakups…like the typical artist, my journals are as scatterbrained as my mind.
All together, in those twelve hours I typed seventeen pages, or roughly 8,000 words. I didn’t put them in their place in the story, just typed them straight through, separating them with useful headers.
You’d think it would be better for me to have written those enigmatic ten scenes, since this stuff would get entered at some point regardless. You would think also that it would be better if there were several whole scenes rather than a ton of fragments.
Au contraire! I say in a terrible French accent.
Because the hardest part of writing is starting. It is much, much (much) easier to finish off a scene than put one word on a blank piece of paper. Now most of the scenes I need to write have already been started. I just have to fill in the gaps. Even the two monumental mind-fuck *scenes that are going to be the hardest to rewrite had some significant edits hidden away that I had forgotten about.
Furthermore, this is tremendous validation that I actually did something in 2009 besides bite my nails, Blip, and fret over the aphids eating my tomatoes.
And plenty of what was written didn’t suck! That’s key of course. I’m excited just to get this fresh content in because I am sick of looking at the same tired sentences I’ve been editing for ages. And those ten scenes smell a lot more like four scenes at the moment.
Moving forward: First step, naturally, is to stick all those scenes in the appropriate place in the draft. That may take the rest of the weekend. Then I will reprint the draft and continue editing it. This time I’m going to leave big spaces where I think there should be more content. Not sure whether I will start from page one or pick up where I left off.
Now to get off my ass and be unproductive!
*They entail describing pretty much the entire history of humanity in a touching, infuriating, frenzied dream. Exactly like that scene from Adaptation, actually.