Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Non-Writing Writer

Back in December, in my post Finished, I said that the hardest part of writing my novel, completing the first draft, was over.

Well, I was wrong.

Turns out the hardest part is re-reading that first draft, considering what needs to be edited and fixed, and realizing that one possible solution involves removing one or two of the four point-of-view characters from the story. Not eliminating them altogether, but re-assigning them as side characters.

I always knew that editing really means re-writing, and that most of my original draft would not survive. Good editors are ruthless. But I didn't realize how hard it would be for me to make such a major change involving characters that I have grown to love, for the sake of the story.

The other difficult part is, until I decide how to handle this major change, I can't really work on the novel at all, at least not physically. I'm thinking about it all the time in my head, but I've learned that it's foolish to move forward on a piece of writing- or anything that's being created, really- without a firm conviction, or at least a gut feeling, of where you want to go. I don't mean that I plan to put it away for months and months and figure out every detail of the editing in my head. That's a waste of time, and takes away one of the best tools to discovering the story, which is the act of writing itself. But for the next few days at least, I need to take a step back and let the ideas simmer and combine, so that when I do sit down in front of the page again, I'm committed to making the big changes that are needed.

But I'm the kind of person who lives on checklists and relishes physical evidence of accomplishments, so just "thinking," while necessary, feels lazy to me. To top it off, I don't have much going on this week. It's very, very cold here in New York, and I don't want to take the baby outside much, so I have extra time I could be writing. I'm trying to redirect that time into other writing pursuits, as well as activities in which I can let my mind wander to come up with solutions to the problems in the novel. (I generally come up with my best ideas in the shower or while exercising.)

You just can't rush the creative process. That's an absolute truth, even though it makes non-creative people roll their eyes.

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