I have a very hard time letting go and admitting defeat; or, rather, admitting that things need to go. I hacked 10,000 words tonight, of my own volition, after sitting down and having a heart-to-heart with The Aldersgate. Defeat is definitely the wrong word here because I’m fairly certain that this work is going to lead to better things: most importantly clarity, character, and cohesiveness.
This is my problem: I try to do too much. And this, I think, is connected to the way my girl brain works. I am indeed, how Wil Wheaton put it, “A ferret on meth.” Except I don’t take meth, and am not, at last check, much of a rodent. I’m always balancing a thousand things at once, and often, I flourish in the chaos–my brain actually works better when I’m busy, ideas come more easily, dialogue flows better. But it also means I sleep less, forget more, and am often an incessant chatter-box. I’m a consummate multitasker.
But there is a tipping point. The first draft of the book had five main POVs; at one point, this current draft had nine.
I am not, I repeat, NOT George R. R. Martin.
My ferret brain is a ferret brain, and there is a point where I just can’t keep it up. So. Axe, axe, axe. I took away the narratives that were turning into character sketches and not moving the plot along very well. What ultimately decided the deal for me was, oddly enough, the podcast. I started listening to the chapters as if I were an audience and not the author and realized–heck, I’ve got to make this more interesting. If I keep introducing characters at this rate, the reader will fall asleep because nothing is happening.
And honestly? I feel like I can breathe better now.
Don’t get me wrong, I love characters. Putting these folks on the back burner breaks my heart. I get attached, feel motherly toward, and even get occasionally get crushes (very… weird, yes… but I admit it, and I’m told I’m not the only one) on my characters. But it’s not like I’m killing these folks. No, they’re just receding to the background and not getting a POV because their stories can be told through the eyes of other POVs.
I’ve probably stopped making sense by this point. I suppose, what I’m trying to say is that, if you’re at a point where you feel like you’re stuck in the mire (which I certainly have been feeling) sometimes you need to step away and put on another set of goggles (go go steampunk metaphors!). Telling stories is hard business, and telling them right is even harder.
Words are not nearly as precious as the stories they tell, and sometimes the words have to be rewritten… and rewritten… and rewritten, until they’re right. In that way writing is much like sculpture. The work is there, in the stone–you just have to chip away until you find it. And then there are even times that the stone you’re working with isn’t even worth the work, and you have to start from scratch.
But you keep going. Because well… it’s your art.
Writing. It’s what I do.