It’s amazing how doing almost nothing can feel like so much work.
I think it’s the fact that the ‘almost nothing’ – in this case, making Scrivener collections of every scene in my novel where X character(s) show up so that I can track their character-arcs throughout the novel – is not actually work, only the prelude to work, and the feeling of heaviness and reluctance that I now feel is in response to that, the fact that now there is no comforting buffer of ‘well I can’t do X until I do Y so I don’t have to worry about Y yet’ for me to lean into anymore. It’s confronting. I’ve set myself up to Get Things Done and now I have no viable excuses left to not do those things.
Which is entirely different to how it feels to get a lot of work done.
Getting a lot of work done feels good. Your memory fills with the data of your progress and logs it for future reference; your brain registers all the time you’ve spent doing something and tells you that, because you did something with that time, you had time, more time than you would have ‘had’ if you hadn’t done … whatever it is that you did. I think that’s how it works, anyway, why it is that doing more things actually makes you feel like you have more rather than less time. Because our sense of time is retrospective and based on a log of events, rather than marking seconds off a clock; we perceive the ‘amount’ of time we currently have by remembering what we’ve done with it.
Kind of like a blog. I know that I’ve looked back at my publishing history over the course of this blog and found myself remembering a fuller, longer week or month when there have been lots of posts, as opposed to stretches of time where the frequency of posts was a bit piecemeal.
And now I have … stuff to do.
It’s irritating. I feel like maybe I just need to learn to use Scrivener a bit better. The issue with looking through scenes of chapters for instances of where characters show up is that each scene – which I made manually, seeing as the text was imported from Word, adding to the clunkiness of this process – is of a certain length, and within a single scene there might be a mention of a character (doing a keyword search) but they might not actually be in the scene, or the mention of them may be so trivial that it doesn’t help with looking at their character-arc to begin with. And of course there’s the overlap with other characters showing up; that’s not so much of an issue because I can just look for keywords again if I want.
It would be fine if you could, for instance, split up these scenes within the collection they’re in and not have it affect the scene in the binder, but either I don’t know how to do that or it can’t be done. So it involves a lot of reading through irrelevant text that has little to nothing to do with what I’m actually looking for.
And, of course, there’s the issue of how to determine how relevant a given scene is to X character’s arc and relationship to, in this case, the main character, before sorting it into a collection. It’s just … it’s been fiddly. Ungainly. I disapprove.
But at least it’s done and I can now look at these arcs and – hopefully – get a sense of how to make this story better, what bits to expand upon and what to just leave out.
The big anxiety that I have now is the age-old fear of not ‘getting it right’. I specifically mean that there’s so much stuff in this book that could be expanded upon, and I’m just not sure what should be expanded upon.
That’s not true.
I know what I have to cut.
Four characters, to be precise. Possibly one of them could stay.
But the thing is that, even knowing that, it’s still only an option. It’s based on some assumptions, the biggest one being that I’m not going to just write an entirely different story because it’d take too long.
Honestly, though, if it means that the end result is better than it would be otherwise – if I’d be happy with it, specifically – then that’s what I have to do.
It is true that a lot of these characters, while interesting to me, feel like in this story they’re just taking up space more than anything. That they could contribute to the telling of a whole and tight story, but jamming them all together into this one isn’t going to accomplish that. So, once again, I consider the option of making a series.
Because the other option is to just leave them out of this story and … just leave them out. Never do anything with them.
I don’t know if I’ve ever done that before.
It may well be what needs to happen.
But on the other hand …
What ‘needs’ to happen?
I mean in a sense that makes it even harder, because I want to know the ‘right’ thing to do, which feels like some kind of objective state for this story to end up in – but there isn’t one. There’s just my decisions.
And I think I’m starting to realise why so many writers never feel like they’ve truly finished their work, that it’s ‘never done’. It’s just a matter of getting to the point where you make a decision that you don’t follow up with another one. A stop, not an end.
And I really.
Want to stop. I want to stop writing this story so that I can write the next one.
At the same time as feeling like I’m only just beginning.
I suppose that’s funny. I mean it is funny. It’s just also not giving me a solution.
And I know that most books undergo at least three revisions before they’re published, or submitted for publishing anyway. So I’m still one revision off that.
And I don’t know if looking at these character-arcs is the right way to go about it, if I should be looking at some other aspect of the story instead …
I don’t know what to do.
It’s the 7th of February, 2014, and I don’t know what I’m supposed to do. Mostly because there’s just so much that I could do. It’s frustrating, and what’s more frustrating is that the last few posts I’ve published have been equally stagnant. I mean it happens, and the whole idea of this blog is to catalog the writing experience, in which there is a lot of stalling, and a significant amount of said stalling comes from having too many options without a list of priorities to organise them by. Which is, I mean, I’ll do that eventually. And reading the manuscript always gives me a sense of priorities. But that’s still only the story as it’s currently written, which is not necessarily the way that helps tell the best story.
And, again, that’s all up to me. Up to the decisions I make, until I just choose to stop making them.
Ugh. I gotta do something.
If there is a brick wall waiting for me, it’s time to meet it head-on.