I love coming up with perfectly reasonable solutions to my problems and then completely and utterly ignoring the fact that I’ve done so. That must be the case, otherwise I wouldn’t keep doing it, right?
I think having problems, hitting dead ends and coming up with solutions, isn’t really running into problems at all. It’s just part of the flow. Because it all gets done eventually, if you stick with it. If you just keep going. It does actually get done. I’m not saying you don’t have problems ever when you’re writing your story and things don’t feel right or you hit a brick wall or whatever; I’m saying that it’s not that you’ve failed to learn something if you don’t act on your inspirational solution right away – it’s just part of your flow.
That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.
On that note, however, I realised that I am actually excited to do some new stuff with this story. I immediately feel worried to say that, because it’s been two fucking years and still I’m not finished and it’s taken so fucking long to even get to this point, which is just after the first revision of the zero draft …
I am excited to do new things, and I think maybe this story is not where I should do them. But that’s mostly because I have this voice in the back of my head saying: “If you don’t decide where to stop, you’ll never be finished”. It’s the idea that there is no “natural” stopping-point for a story. The idea that no story is ever truly finished, and that’s why writers torment themselves and first-time writers, such as myself (and I’ve been a first-time writer for the past 14 years so I should know), end up in a constant state of restarting and resetting and modification.
But I’m starting to think that this is actually bullshit. I’m starting to think that, actually, there is a natural stopping-point for a story, if you have the time to look for it – and most of the time, you don’t, because you’re writing to deadline, or other things come up, or you just get so fucking fed up with writing this particular story that you’ve been writing for so fucking long already and you’ll take an unsatisfactory and arbitrary-feeling stopping-point over prolonging your suffering any longer. Which, if I’m right in assuming that there is in fact a natural stopping-point for every story, is a rather sad thought.
But that is what I think. I think it because writing has “rules”, which I put quotation marks around even though they’re not needed, because of course they’re arbitrary; it’s fucking creativity. You cannot come up with objective rules of due process for creative endeavours, because creativity is like mercury. It just goes wherever.
Nevertheless, these rules exist, and within these rules is an implicit goal, otherwise the rules wouldn’t be put into place to begin with. If your story is about X, then surely you must have Y. Or, if you don’t have Y, it’s because you know it’s supposed to be there. And so on. There is a formula, and perhaps my mistake has been, for 14 years, assuming that I was better than the formula.
It’s not about being better. It’s about being good.
And I’m good. And if I stop trying to be better-than, perhaps I’ll finally get to live up to that.
I hit a roadblock because of logic, because of “in real life blah blah blah”, because I found myself facing a situation that I didn’t understand and that I “had” to write about.
If that’s the story, then that’s the story. I may wake up tomorrow and realise that I’m procrastinating, or I may go ahead and explore this new direction that I’m excited to go in. But this story has a natural stopping-point, and I haven’t found it yet, and I’m going to stick with it until I do.
Because if I’m going to spend my life telling stories, then they might as well be mine.