According to E.L. Doctorow,
Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.
I’m inclined to agree with him.
My first draft written for NaNoWriMo was 50,246 words long. I started rewriting it in December. As of right now, I’ve completed acts 1 and 2 of my second draft, and it’s at 61,514 words with more to come.
When November ended, I didn’t really have a story. It was more like snapshots found in a shoebox. Some were dramatic, bursting with energy and feeling. Some were out of focus, unfinished, or aimless. Some were poised and perfect without any life.
I didn’t have a full story. I definitely didn’t have an ending. I knew what I wanted to happen, but I was still trying to figure out the how and the why, not to mention the when. I started to rework it into a manuscript. Scenes were deleted or rewritten. Characters were introduced or obliterated. Some were repeatedly killed and brought back to life. Motivations changed. Backstories were developed.
And the more I rewrote, the further away the ending became.
These are the voices that have plagued me during this process:
- • You should kill off that character.
• Why are you including this? What has this got to do with anything?
• You can’t say that when you’ve already said this thirty pages ago.
• Was this word used in 1914 America?
• Do you have any idea what you’re talking about?
• Congratulations, you have just written yourself into a hole and destroyed your climax.
• Whatever you do, the ending cannot be like Lost.
• What are you writing? You do realize that your character sounds like someone out of a Wes Anderson film/The Hunger Games/Wuthering Heights/As I Lay Dying?
• Have you got a title yet?
• No, that cannot be your title. It’s too pretentious/silly/lame/harlequin/Woody Allen.
• I hate this character.
• Turn off the Internet.
• Turn on the Internet and Google “maximum sentence for murder in the first degree.”
• You really need to learn how to spell “subpoena.”
• Maybe you should have been an accountant.
• Yes, next time you can write a dystopian young adult novel if you really want to, but you have to finish this one first.
• Stop Google searching The Hunger Games.
• Change that name. Now.
• You know what? I don’t think third person omniscient is the right perspective for this novel. You should go back and rewrite it all in first person.
• You spend too much time creating the ultimate writing playlist.
• The only child who speaks like that is Renesmee Cullen. Fix her. Fix her now.
• Aren’t you ashamed you know who Renesmee Cullen is? Because I am.
And while this might sound like a pessimistic post, the truth is that I’m feeling pretty good about myself write now. I’m rather proud and confident in pressing on with this story.
I like to have deadlines, so here’s one for you to all hold me accountable to:
- To reach the ending by Wednesday, February 15.
And then I can go back and change it all again.
Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those who do not write, compose, or paint can manage to escape the madness, the melancholia, the panic fear which is inherent in the human condition.