I’m here for a little process write porn and whining; how about you?
I could blame the neverending sinus infection. I could blame the after-effects of finishing something I’d been working on a really, really long time.* Or taking on some tough freelance work (about which more soon) during said sinus infection de doom. How about being really busy with lots of other things? That one’s always good too. But sometimes, the cause is irrelevant and I think this is one of those times. I’ve been whining about needing to write way more than actually writing, which is never a good balance. It’s a self-feeding thing, too; the longer it’s been since you actually wrote something new, the harder it seems. Note that I didn’t say the harder it *is*; as it’s usually the seeming that’s the problem here. Sitting down and just typing can cure a great many of that particular brand of ills.
See, I just finished reworking the first ten pages of a short story I wrote several months ago for Christopher’s class. I’ve still got a week or so’s worth of work to do to it, but I like the story. (Like it when I’m not hating it, that is.) I’d originally planned to finish it by the end of January so I could send it to a specific place, but that clearly did not meet up with the, as they say, reality-based world. I’m baby-stepping back to working on Roanoke by starting with it. And I can gnash my teeth a little about this because I actually did some work. Wasn’t so bad. Seems and all that.
The last lines of Girl’s Gang are: I won’t abandon anyone. I’m not the abandoning kind.
These are lines I’ve always been happy with, because they feel exactly like the protagonist, Claudia, would in that moment when she’s thinking them. Claudia is most definitely not me, but we do share this one important, learned thing: fear of abandoning things. Or, more charitably, refusal to?
See, I flirted with another project. I had set Roanoke aside to do this massive rewrite on Girl’s Gang. Which was fine. But having finished that, I had come up with this perfectly justifiable reason to set it aside for a bit longer. I had this sort of, kind of nascent idea for a book (that, for all sorts of reasons including the one to follow, I’m not going to write anytime soon) that I mentioned to a few people, who all loved it. I even said though, I’m not sure I’ll be able to write it. It’ll be too painful, too dark, too torturous.
Based on the one day I spent typing on it, yielding about nine never to see the light of day pages, I was right. No matter how much I dread writing on any given day, no matter how much the output sucks, there’s undeniably something good about having done it. But not that morning. That morning I spat out over 1,100 words and I didn’t hate them, didn’t think they were awful, but I didn’t even feel like I’d written. I kept trying to feel excited. Like I’d started a new book. That night, I dreamed about Roanoke. I woke up wanting to get back to writing Roanoke immediately.
I have trained myself not to abandon things. I don’t believe it’s a good strategy for life or success or anything hard that requires perseverance. Only when something is completely unsalvageable is it a good idea. Don’t worry, I’m not kidding myself that these beliefs had anything to do with this. This other book is just not what I need to be writing. To write it (at least for now) would be a lie. It wouldn’t be writing at all.
It would be torture.
So it’s taking me a few days to cleanse the brain ache away — the punishment I’m getting when I try to write, for trying to abandon something good and right for something else. I can’t help but feel I deserve it. I’ve been working on trusting my gut more, because usually there is a feeling when something’s wrong (and, if lucky, when something’s right). It can be seductive to ignore that feeling at times, but I find it’s almost always ignored at the peril of the work.**
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t eager for this feeling to go away, despite that. That’s why I’m calling it out here. Begone, teeth-gnashing. I’m not abandoning anything.
Or perhaps SuperFoods kill the ability to write.***
*Yes, I realize I may still have work to do on that one in the future. I hope so, actually.
**If I’m honestly not sure, that usually means I’ve misinterpreted the feeling or need to consult somebody smarter to figure out how to fix things.
***Sadly, I tested this hypothesis with a pizza on Friday night (it still had spinach and romas and garlic though, SuperFoods all) and it seemed not to matter.
2 thoughts on “Abandonment Theories”
A week and a half ago, I finished off a short story (might be a novella) that had been kicking my ass for a while. Since then I’ve tinkered with some revisions of other things lying about . . . but nothing new is waiting to be worked on. Possibly my brain is ready to start another novel, but library school laughs at that idea. And so I am reduced to writing stream-of-consciousness notes to myself about how this or that idea is not ready to be worked on.
Don’t be too hard on yourself(ves). I think everyone goes through these periods. I know I do too. They’ll break eventually. The scary times are when you’re not writing and you *don’t* care at all.
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