So, upon coming back to Tallulah, things were going great for the first couple of days. The first chapter of the new draft was tighter, more like a story than a rant thanks to an unexpected but very welcome change in narrative voice; I started to see that I could practice my preaching and really use telling to good effect, instead of insisting that everything be shown. Sure, a bit of the viscera of the teen angst that fueled the first draft was lost, but clarity and a sense of flow and continuity came in to replace it, and it was a refreshing change of pace. Everything was going great.
And then it turned out that I was writing a fucking book and I got stuck FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU
Today has been a shitty, grey-mood kinda day, and I blame myself for starting the day by playing videogames, against my own better judgment, because I know that when I start the day playing videogames it sets the tone for everything else that day: uninspired coasting.
But that’s also quite unfair. For instance, I am able to write this blog post quite easily; I actually tried writing another one before this that spurred this one into existence so, obviously, my creative faculties have not all been numbed by the nuclear bombing that is saturating my brain with videogame flow. This is fairly creative; I’m taking stock of what I’ve written, comparing it to how I feel and letting it change my thoughts and my mood, creating a new context of perspective for me to work from and, thus, a shift in topic as my priorities change as I work through them. Which is how writing works – and, really, applying yourself to anything.
Which makes me think I could force myself to go back and continue writing this first chapter, which up until I started writing this particular post I thought I was too stuck on to continue. Which is because, up until I started writing this particular post, I was too stuck to continue with that chapter. All the humour I was inspired to inject into the story was invisible to me, perhaps because it wasn’t there at all, and when I tried to think of how I’d go back and put it in I couldn’t bring myself to have faith in any of my ideas enough to even try them out and see how they worked. All the interesting changes in character due to the change in narrative voice started to make me question my own motives, my own certainty in what I was doing, and in the vein of any good self-fulfilling prophecy I then began to lose that clarity and slip into potholes of doubt and pessimism. And when I wrote in a character I was sure I was going to let just drift away, a character I was kind of looking forward to letting drift away, I think that was the nail in the coffin, because upon writing them back in yesterday I found myself unwilling to write any further, and it’s been that way ever since.
Because I’ve realised that, while it’s certainly an issue to address, it is only part of the much larger issue at hand: this new first chapter is incredibly ambitious, far more ambitious than I’d given it credit for. And I like that, a lot, but it also means that it deserves a little more attention than I was planning on giving it.
Or not, alternatively. Perhaps part of what made it ambitious was the fact that I didn’t have a step-by-step plan for it – or, more specifically, that I hadn’t put one down in writing. I knew what I was doing while I was doing it, this exciting new thing, and it was working. And then I made myself do something familiar and it all fell apart; well, it happens. And if I can force myself to write even when I don’t have to, I am sure I can work out a solution to this non-essential problem as well.
I want this chapter to be huge, it seems, and I’m okay with that. I want it to do a lot of heavy lifting; this first chapter is to be the cornerstone of the story, the genesis from which all of creation springs forth. So it has to do a LOT of work to live up to that level of hype, and pressure.
A couple of thoughts I’ve had upon writing that:
- I’m going to revise it anyway, so I may as well just go back and erase that one character and then continue as though nothing happened – no plan, no reconsideration, no lengthy plotting-out of the exact sequence of events and words. Just continuing with the wild energy that was driving me to begin with, and letting it lead me to wherever it goes
- I could plan a few things, get some key points in there, because if this is the part of the story that informs every other part of the story that follows it, I may as well put my best foot forward now. Because I can, and I think it would pay off
- Maybe I’d use up too much energy doing that and then not want to write the rest of it
And that third one, I think, hits the real problem on the head: I want to write this first chapter.
… and that’s about it.
It’s not like I want to not write the whole story; it’s that I don’t want to write anything beyond this big setting-up chapter. This is what I have energy for, and there is nothing beyond that yet.
But that’s okay, right? Because how could there be anything beyond this when “this” isn’t even finished yet?
I have some images that could be turned into words, moments that could become events. I don’t have a story. To date I have never had a story for Tallulah that I actually liked enough to commit to; it’s always been a collection of ideas sieved out of the slush of a bigger group of ideas. And the one time I did have a story – the last revision – it was a story I didn’t like.
That’s just the nature of this project. And I’m okay with it now. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it. It just means that I’m going to have to accept that this is the way it works; it’s not clear-cut and precise ahead of time, only in retrospect or in the moment, and that’s it.
That sounds horrible and impossible, actually.
But whatever. Not like I’m getting paid for this shit.
And given that, I may as well do anything I goddamn well please, whenever I goddamn well please. Right now I want to destroy that stupid character for daring to come back into my presence. So I think I’ll do that.
If they come back after that, then I’ll consider them. They’re gonna have to prove they belong here.
Man. Writing really does work.