Winding Back Up

I wrote and finished my first essay in a year and a half last night. Another last-minute rush-job. Keeping the trend alive. I don’t really care, though, and that’s good, because that’s the point.

I do care a bit.

Which is not the point, but a thing need not be The Point to be important.

Ultimately, though, I’m still not quite used to having time to do things with again. The schedule of show week is still hanging over my habits, and I have to take a moment to really think about what I have to do this week in order to realise just how liberated I am right now. I mean I can do anything. Kind of. More than I could last week, because each performance took up between 5 and 6 hours of my day every day for the whole week, even though the actual performance is only about two and a half hours. And now those 5 to 6 hours are back, and they’re open and ready for business again, and it’s so weird.

And I still have no idea how to move forward with Tallulah.

The thing is that this chapter I have yet to revise – the second chapter, formerly the third – is one of the most crucial, because it really sets the tone of how the story is going to progress. It could be that it needs a severe revision, because the tone that it sets is very … rigid. I would like to set the tone over a few chapters, but I know how I read books, and I don’t like waiting for much longer than two chapters to get a feel for where the story is going – not even the story, just where the tone and focus of the thing I’m reading is going.

If it does need this severe revision then that’s like a week’s work, easily. It’s a pretty dense chapter; there’s a lot of telling that could be showing, and I’ll have to work out what should be showing and what is better off just being told; there’s other stuff that I could intersperse it with so that, as a tone-setting chapter, it actually encompasses the full range of what this story is going go be about – or I could just keep it as it is, tidy it up a bit, wrangle it into line with how I want the narrative to flow, and just trust that it’ll work.

I need a plan, is what I’m saying, for the umpteenth time.

This time, the plan might actually be to just leap ahead a chapter and start there. This chapter might actually better serve the book coming in slightly later on. I don’t know. Hence why I need a plan.

I want this story to feel dynamic, and each chapter plays a part in that. I want it to feel full, complete, whole, unified, various other adjectives pertaining to cohesion and aesthetic satisfaction. I finally read Girl of Nightmares over the last two show nights, and dynamism is something that it needed very badly. As well as, like, a reason to exist. I still really like the characters and the premise, and Kendare Blake is a pretty damn good writer, but oh dear that premise was thin, and it showed. And the ending …

Anyway, that’s the sort of thing I want to avoid. I’m worried that I’m putting this second draft up on a pedestal, which I did with the first draft as well. ‘Time does not equal progress’ is what I learnt from that endeavour, and it was a very valuable lesson to learn, but it doesn’t make this any easier.

I also have a ton of study to get through tonight, and possibly even a film to watch, depending on how incredibly tired I am. I might be able to just watch it tomorrow between tutorials. So fretting about my novel is not a priority until probably Friday, but possibly tomorrow evening might be appropriate enough.

It’s the wanting to make this story work that’s killing me here. The perfectionism, the expectations I’m heaping on top of this process. Judging it by the desired end result rather than taking stock of where in the process I actually am. It’s still pretty early days yet. And there’s that issue of judging where to show and where to tell as well. This is a really tough chapter to try and transmute into something that really feels like it fits. It’s meant to be a sudden rush of action, and that works well enough with telling, I think, but I want to show it because it makes it more directly linked to Tallulah’s perspective of what’s happening.

There’s more to it than just that, though, if I’m being honest. I want to prove that I can show it. But those two different ways of conveying narrative information have totally different effects on the presentation of a story. Through telling, I can probably get away with keeping it where it is, but if I want to show, it feels like it needs more of a lead-in than it’s currently got.

And I’m also afraid that, if I do try and show the parts I’m worried about, it’ll just reveal how thin the justification for all of it even happening really is.

But hey, maybe there’s a way to tell while still making it seem subjective. Or maybe I’m the only one who thinks the justification is thin and it’s actually totally fine.

I do feel that rewriting so much of those first two chapters to make them better fit my vision – or my vision at the time – did a number on my perspective. There are changes in the writing style that I feel need to be made for the sake of characterisation and just the overall feel. I just have to be sure that I’m making the right changes, and not just as many as I can justify fitting in in the heat of the moment.

Perhaps, though, that’s not a realistic goal to set, because it essentially means that I’ll only get this right if I never make a mistake – that it’s only worth doing at all if I never make a mistake, to be specific. And I don’t believe that. I believe that this story is worth making mistakes for to get right.

Guess I’ll do that, then.

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