When I started this blog, I promised to be honest. Of course, being honest doesn’t mean saying whatever the hell is on my mind, either. If I’m not getting along with someone I love, I’m not going to go public with it. My relationships mean more than my audience reach or edification. But I can talk about me, if I’m losing my mind, or losing my shit, as I prefer to say (or did prefer until a few people challenged me for having my characters cuss too much) then I might as well talk about it with you.
I used to write this mind-bendingly honest stuff when I started my Facebook Page. 8,000 fans later, I wonder if maybe I’ve lost myself in the never-ending search for greater popularity. This need to find an ever-greater number of LIKES on my page speaks of hubris and dependence on others to define my own self-worth, so I resist it, oh man, how I resist it. Don’t get me wrong: I appreciate being liked. In fact, I love it . . . right up until I find that I’m forgetting what makes me—me.
And that’s where I am now. It’s not just my Facebook Page, or even my blog here, which is much smaller. It’s my book.
I’m almost done with draft three, which consists of fixing inconsistency in POV (point of view). Mostly this is an easy fix. I have three main characters and each scene either needs to be written from the perspective of one of the three characters or it can be written from third-party omniscient POV. The thing that is confusing me to the point where I want to send the entire manuscript to the trash is if I’m in third party omniscient, how much can I show of each character’s thoughts and feelings?
I’ll figure it out, no doubt. But I don’t want to lose my mental stability in the process. I’m trying so hard to hold onto the essence of what makes these scenes true and real and (I hope) beautiful . . . and now I hold this Exacto-knife to each scene, cutting the excess. But I’m scared, so scared, I’m cutting the essence, the muscle, the dimples that make a face special—OUT along with the fat.
I’ve studied both the science and the art of writing and I’m an artist, not a scientist, when it comes down to it. I write according to feel and I try to hear my characters in each word I fashion. I think great writing is almost a mystical process, one that unites mind and heart and soul with a seamless tap of fingers on keyboard. There are some right and some wrong ways to go about writing, but if I had to define what makes a book great, I’d have to respond that it sounds or reads or even feels right.
Some people speak of magic formulas and objective guidelines to writing novels. And for sure, there are rules and guidelines, but so often, these rules and guidelines exist to be flouted. For me, citing and obeying too many rules and techniques can reduce the magic of writing to a mathematical formula, or what my friend The Monster in Your Closet calls “The Dread Writamatician.” And when I try to apply these formulas to my manuscript, I skate into a place of angst and frustration that feels all too close to mental instability.
That’s why I quit writing so many years ago. I could not reconcile objective standards with my inner definition of beauty, and I fucking lost it. Really—lost it. I made it through all of that, but only after I chose surviving over living my dream, and if I have to make the same choice, I think I’d choose a balanced, sane life over art again. But it’s not an easy choice. I love my art that much.
So where am I? This third draft is pretty much making me crazy. I’m scared and frustrated and for some reason, angry, and I don’t know why I’m angry. I think I’m angry with myself, to be honest.
But that said–I’m fine. Well, no, I‘m not at all fine, but I will be fine after I get over this funk. I know I’m putting too much pressure on myself and I’m closer than I’ve ever been to sending Ripple to the trash bin. I won’t. Instead, I’ll go for a run and I won’t stop until this pain of creating makes me feel too much like destroying.