I had no trouble opening my eyes this morning and facing the day, which surprised me so much I forgot to write my weekly post carping on how horrible Mondays are.
I’ve even been humming along to the tune in my head all day, only realizing an hour or two ago what the song was, where it came from, and that it was entirely inappropriate for work.* And even then, I just added a grin and kept on humming.
Why all the happy? I’ve finally made a difficult and scary decision about my WIP, which encompasses over 60,000 words and several months. And I feel free and relieved for the first time in one and a half of those months.
No, I’m not quitting.
Quitting, while embarrassing and heartbreaking, isn’t scary. And I love this story. I love the premise, the people, the places, the things . . the other things . . . I even have a good idea of how it will end.
And that’s the scary part. Because I’ve decided to stop writing new material for a week. Maybe more.
I’ve decided, against everything I’ve said previously on this blog . . . to go back. And edit.
Some of you may be shrugging at this point, but I’ve always believed that moving forward in a first draft is essential and that going back is a horrible mistake. Get it done, then edit. Don’t stop to tie your shoes, don’t pass go, don’t risk losing momentum or this one will become another abandoned shipwreck.
Thou shalt finish the damned book and sort it out later.
But . . . I’m starting to think that, just maybe, it isn’t actually a Rule—maybe it’s a method. An excellent method, one that’s helped me immeasurably in the past . . . but perhaps not the right method at this point for this manuscript.
See, the new material I’ve been writing for the past month . . . isn’t right.
Not first-drafts-always-stink not right—I’m used to that. Hoo boy, yeah.
Not, hey-this-is-turning-out-to-be-a-different-story not right—which is really less of a not-right than a who-knew. Sometimes the elephant is a giraffe, and I’m fine with that.
Not even a whoops-where-did-that-gun-come-from-everyone-just-fell-into-a-plot-hole not right.
What I’m struggling against is a complete burial of the main plot wrongness. A character motivation wrongness. A hollow-story wrongness.
I’ve lost my way somewhere.
There. I said it.
Writing more material isn’t going to help—it’s only going to make the pile deeper. And quitting is unthinkable—this is the book I want to write.
Except I don’t seem to be writing it.
So the plan is to re-read what I have, do a retroactive outline of what needs to happen and compare it to what’s there now, maybe get the time line straightened out, work on character motivations, take out or revise the scenes that don’t support the story, and at the very least insert pages that say, “Put in a scene about X here” and “Murder Dana – hit and run outside clinic?”**
I could be mistaken, but I’m thinking that however much time it takes to set this story right again will be time well spent. Generating stacks of useless—if brilliantly and beautifully written***—pages probably isn’t.
*Someone who knows perfectly well how susceptible I am to earworms sent me a vid of very specific clips of David Tennant’s work set to Pink’s Oh, My God. Even REM’s Stand hasn’t been able to knock that one loose. My revenge will be terrible.
** And thank you Kate Haggard over at Churck Wendig’s place for the idea.
***I said “if.”