That’s really all there is to it.
I feel physically ill to even consider continuing with the character-mapping exercise I started … how many months ago now? Three? Five? I got through three out of the planned six, and the remaining three are far easier affairs given the size of the characters’ roles, at least in terms of face-time. But yeah, it just makes me feel ill. I’m not quite sure which part/s of it makes me feel ill though, and am thus even as I write this trying to convince myself that I’m just being silly and making up excuses to procrastinate a bit more.
There are other issues with this novel, and they’re all old issues that I’ve regurgitated a fair few times already: I need to decide what exactly it is that I want and stick to it; I need to stop changing things; I need to make my notes more clearly-defined from one another according to the function each of them serves … it may just be the sense of hopelessness that I feel at not really knowing what it is that I want and having no clear way out of this void of inadequacy that’s making me nauseous.
And it’s not like the last time I had a “running head-first into a brick wall” moment, so I don’t know if this is one of those moments at all, if the warning signs I’m experiencing are out of actual danger or just some kind of irrational anxiety. Because I can’t pin down why I’m so apprehensive about it.
Screw it; I’ll try and do it for a while and get back to you.
Yeah, no clue.
It’s fine now. It’s enjoyable, actually.
No flippin’ clue.
Maybe it’s because I’ve been worried for a while that I actually can’t write this book, can’t tell this story because I still don’t know what I want it to be, don’t have a clear vision for it. I feel like this every time I start working on Tallulah and only “zoom out” again once I’ve read back over the whole thing. So I guess maybe I have to learn that, in this context, I shouldn’t trust my feelings to guide me – at least not in the intuitive ways I’m used to doing.
The other thought I’ve been having more recently is that I do know what I want, and I just can’t bring myself to admit it because I feel like what I want isn’t good enough. I feel like what I want – or at least what I feel this story is in its ‘proper’ form, just isn’t up to the standard that I expect of myself.
And to be honest, writing that down feels right. Something settles into place and I feel a wash of relief for pointing it out. I do know what this story needs – it needs to be told already, and there’s a story that’s been told already, one that doesn’t need all of these extra notes to be made so that I can use them to direct my editing tools, for the sake of changing things as its own goal, not because they need to be changed. I’ve got a story already, and the only problem is that I want it to be better. But that also means that I want it to be different, and if it’s different then … well, it’s not this story. It’s some other story.
I don’t know if it’s just because it’s what’s down in writing that I’m using as my model for the ‘real story’ rather than the rambling maze that’s in my head, and that I’m not satisfied with what’s down in writing as a reader or a writer. Maybe it’s because I feel pressured to submit it quickly that I’m insisting that what I’ve got written is the real story and what’s in my head is just distracting. I don’t know how much of what I feel is out of wanting an easy solution to my problem – the feeling that this story is not right yet – and how much is out of my idea of what’s ‘right’ for this story being a nebulous musing rather than some concrete list of details that I can check off a list. Again, I don’t have a clear picture of what I want this story to be; I have several, and none of them seem inherently better or worse than the others.
I remember a while back I talked about the ‘voice’ of a story, and how it differed from the usual ‘big picture’ metaphor. I remember that I ran into this problem of not knowing what was right for the story, and somehow I managed to get my bearings and focus on staying true to the story. And I remember it being easy, as well as being frustrating as hell, and it’s like remembering the events of two different lives.
It’s not helpful, is what I’m saying.
But no. It is. I have found the problem – I’ve forgotten what this story is about.
And now I remember.
Ugh. Have I given myself a whole lot of backtracking to do?
Well in any event, I know what direction I have to shepherd my work along now. And the character-maps will actually help a lot, as they have already been doing. I have a direction again, and it’s the same direction as it was last time, isn’t that amusing WHY CAN’T I JUST FUCKING REMEMBER THINGS
Well, I guess this does count as remembering. It’s the forgetting part I’d like more control over. I’ll have to work on that, through the mystic arts of repetition and practice.
But for now, not only has a crisis been averted and my direction re-discovered, but I also no longer feel sick. I call that a win.