Ending is the beginning and other cliches

I wrote an ending. A truly hideous, hideous ending. It’s awful, quite frankly. But it’s an ending. It contains what I wanted to happen in the ending. It’s just… not well-written or even remotely good.

However.

I’m hoping that this will mean that mentally, I now have permission to go fuss over the past parts. To polish and fix them and get them somewhat presentable. I’d still love to have a sharable draft by January 1, 2011. Pipe dream? Quite possibly.

Truthfully I am really frustrated and I know my worst enemy is myself but–I don’t really know how to stop.

I’m terrified that if I work on it I’ll suck the life out of it. Everyone I know keeps saying stuff like “oh I can tell when you’re in the groove” or “I can tell when you’re having fun.” I mean, I know I can tell when a part flows really well. But sometimes that’s not necessarily because I wrote it in one giddy rush. Some of the best parts are, yes, but… if my entire story has to be made up of those giddy rushes, well, I’m never going to write a novel. Some parts are going to have to be parts I struggled with, and parts I rewrote a hundred times, and parts I just rearranged and reworked and twiddled with until I thought, “hey, I kind of like this.”

And some parts usually still suck.

I don’t know. I’m feeling horribly, horribly discouraged. But I’m sabotaging everything that anyone else says, and I don’t know how to overcome this. Any comment–even a good comment–is easily twisted by my brain into something horrible.

I don’t know. How can you defeat that? It’s like the inputs themselves have become twisted. Like the reverse of doofus confidence–doofus insecurity?? You no longer perceive the truth; everything, the entire world, is warped by your own critical feelings. How do you defeat that?

Asking the right questions

So, all right, I haven’t managed to post every day of December, though I’ve attempted to write every single day–some days more successful than others. Today I wrote about 1800 words and I finished the big reveal scene. One more chapter and then the story is done, and there are giant gaping holes I need to go fix. But. Done? Holy shit! True, there are scenes that just stop and don’t finish but… this is the closest I’ve ever been to an (almost) novel. (It’s at 46,355 words right now)

One thing that’s been very difficult for me is my inability to talk about the story with people. The story is definitely not in a shareable form, and I was having massive trouble articulating what problems I was having without spelling out the story. But today I had a breakthrough on that front, and was able to ask a few questions of my friend E., and get a few answers that really helped me feel much more confident in the direction I was going. It cleared up some of my fears about the themes I was possibly going to address, and it helped me finish the reveal scene.

Funny, isn’t it though, that the biggest help was the confidence boost. I wonder why it’s such a big deal–simply believing in what you’re writing. But it always is.

The snippet file

When I chop things up I try to remember to either keep an old version or take the snippets and dump them into a word doc for snippets. Sometimes I’ll end up with quite a few snippet files, or sometimes I end up with a very long word document. But I think it’s worth keeping them. Every once in a while I’ll get to a place where I’ll be like “Ohhh, now, that snippet I cut out of Chapter two could really work here!” And more often than not, it’s true–I liked what I’d written for a reason, but maybe the timing wasn’t right, maybe later I’ll figure out when the timing *is* right.

Today I have no idea how many words I wrote because I ended up using a few snippets I’d cut out of an earlier version of a scene just before. So I’ll just give a more general wordcount: 45,249. The other day I found an old journal entry where I’d written out these summaries of various stories, given the start date and the wordcount at the time. The Red Box was at 35k; it was June or July.

True, 10,000 words in six months isn’t much. But it’s more than I thought I’d written. Especially considering at the beginning of this renewed effort on the story, I was barely at 40k, maybe just under it.

It’s pretty cool, sometimes, to look up and realize you’ve come a lot farther than you thought.

LC Hu and the Not-So-Good Day

I know some people are perfectly prolific with a full time day job, but I don’t know how they do it. I come home from staying late at work an hour and a half and it’s everything I can do to write three sentences of dialogue. And then I’ve had it. I’m done. My brain just won’t spit out anything else related to the story, and everything that’s come before just looks like terrible trash.

But I’m just tired, I guess. I hope I can sleep tonight. The next few days at work are going to be just as tough, so maybe I’ll just have to count my three sentences as doing what I can do.

471 words, rewriting an earlier scene to add in a needed character in the Big Reveal scene. Kind of a mini-reveal moment happening.

And for some reason the conversations between main character and this supporting character are always a struggle for me. Supporting character’s voice just doesn’t come naturally and I still, despite many attempts, do not have a clear idea of what that character is like. His motives, while I know what they are, are not completely transparent to me either. I’m starting to have an idea… How they are connected, why main character was sought out, etc.

I’m trying not to let the fear that this is making no sense, that it’s ridiculous, that it’s unsupportable, that it’s nonsense, get to me.

Look, self. Maybe all of that’s true. But in the end who’re you telling this for, anyway? Yourself. That’s right. You’re just trying to get the story out right now. You can work it out and polish it later. Just remember that.

Ugh, it’s so hard to actually try to believe that.

We believe in tomorrow…

…But we’re stuck in today.

I’m so close to the ending. I wrote a big part of the “big reveal” scene. I didn’t finish because I think I want to change what characters are present, to amp up the intensity and provide better motivation for the reveal. There’s still, I think, one last big choice for the main character to make. But I think I have a much clearer idea of how this is fitting together.

I wrote a little over 2000 words and to be honest, they’re rough and awful as hell, and I’m pretty sure I’ll have to rewrite most of them. But I think getting them down is so important. It’s forcing me to make the decisions that I will stand by when I revise. It’s making me realize where the holes are.

This is really tough for me, but it’s good. It’s tough for me to keep going when I know I’m not writing at the top of my game, when I know things are out of order or lack true motivation and when I’m worried that there may be some serious plot problems. But I do think I’m at that point where I have to keep pushing. Maybe I’ll write an ending that moves too quick, or too slow, but that can be fixed. It can all be fixed.

I know I keep repeating that, but it’s because I have a hard time believing it, and I know, to keep going, I have to.

For now I want to remember that I wrote 2000 words and I am very close to the ending, and I did this over a weekend where I was feeling pretty off on both days, so I didn’t even write as much as I could’ve or should’ve, and I am so. Close.

Almost there. I can’t let up now. I have to do this.

Midnight squeaking

Last night, since a coworker took me out to cheer me up and I got involved in talking to roommate when I got back, I didn’t really sit down to write until 11:45. But I did put down a few words–can’t recall how many, but a bare paragraph’s worth, maybe. Finished just before midnight.

Today, I’ve got… I’ve got directions in my head, I’ve had them all day, but getting them to come out right is torment. I’m just trying to get these directions on paper, however rough and poorly done. I’ve already written and then junked a scene, and written a new version.

I’m so close to the end, I think, but getting that end out is turning out to be far, far harder than I expected. Part of it is that the ending I’d always planned doesn’t completely fit any more. I don’t know if it’s that the ending I planned needs to be expanded, or needs to be changed completely, or is no longer the end but part of the journey to the end? I’m also noting lots of scenes that need to happen earlier to avoid so much info dumping at the end bits, but I’m not sure where I’ll fit those scenes in yet. And the motivations are still not solid on some really important thing. I believe them in my head but in the prose I’m not convinced, and that’s bad. And I’m teetering on OH GOD THIS IS NEVER GOING TO COME TOGETHER, IT’S UTTER SHITE, but I’m trying not to fall into that hole.

I’d actually love it if I could get the bloody ending hammered out this weekend, in terrible shitty form if need be, and then spend the rest of the month getting it to a shareable if not second draft state.

But we’ll see. I’ve been really bad about getting myself to do stuff and I’m very, very, very frustrated with myself. But that’s counterproductive, I know.

Anyway, slept for crap and have had a pretty terrible week otherwise, so I’m off to bed.

450 words…

Sometimes the toughest thing is getting one word out after another. Especially when you’re aware that it’s coming out lousy, stilted and not flowing, that it’s not your best work. Sometimes you know that you’re writing something that will have to be ripped out eventually. It’s not fun, and some days, when you’ve had a terrible time otherwise, it’s downright discouraging.

But I find if I stick with it, one word after another, eventually the flow comes. Eventually even if it’s not the best ever and not even necessarily the right direction, I fall into a groove.

Maybe not a lot of words, but it’s okay. I’m closer and closer to the ending. I think I know where I’m going next, which is better than I was for this entire year. You know, I think I’ve written as much as I’ve written all year on The Red Box in the month of December. That makes me happy.

I know this thing will need plenty of revising. I even know where a lot of rough spots are, and where a lot of downright awful spots are. But that’s all right.

Wrap up the story, get to the end. See the whole composition, the balance. Then start cleaning up the sketch, inking in the good lines, erasing the bad.

Sometimes, when you get the words out, even one clunking word at a time, it can make you feel a lot better.

And counting…

630 words.  And I have mostly run out of other words–it’s been a bit of a day.  Perhaps tomorrow.

A Merry Band of Excuses

All right, so not very many words today, maybe 400.  I could blame having to stay late at work, a long detour in the cold to pick up a shiny new phone, the distraction said phone brings, the vague feeling that I’m getting sick… As the subject line says, a merry band of excuses.

But really I’m just not quite sure how to get going with the next part, what really ought to come next.  I know the general, but the specifics aren’t quite in place yet.  I want the protagonist to pursue certain avenues of investigation, but the plot path I’ve got him going down doesn’t exactly lead that way.

So I’ll take the 400 words and some time to think.  Sometimes, that’s what’s needed, I suppose.