So I’m at work, right. It’s a so so job where I’m more secretary than anything, and god bless secretaries and all the work they do, but I can’t stand it. Moreover, I’m horrible at it, because I don’t like the feeling of being at the boss’s beck and call. I’m a tech writer damnit, and I am used to being considered professional and mature enough to determine my own daily schedule. At any rate, that’s not as important as the talk I had with a coworker, a wonderful and talented woman who is also underpaid and underutilized.
During the conversation, I was telling her about my SPN articles, and how much I enjoyed them, how much I enjoyed talking with fans about them. Then she goes, what about that novel? I said what? (On account of I never remembered telling her.) And she said, two weeks ago you were talking about redoing the outline for that, what happened to the outline, did you work on it? Well, I lied and said that yes I had even though, no I hadn’t, because while I really appreciated her interest and her asking, I couldn’t bring myself to admit that I’d actually not working on it at all - that I’d taken a Saturday afternoon to read through it, but lazily did no acutal work. (I was at my favorite coffee shop, Amantes, on north Broadway.)
Then, I’m getting my hair cut yesterday by a lovely woman named Christine, who recently realized that she can’t cut hair forever and has started radiology school and is going to be an X-ray technichian. I’m more pleased for her than I can say, as long as she continues to cut my hair every six weeks, because frankly, she can cut it any way she wants and I never ever have to blow dry it to make it look nice. So, while sucking on my frappichino, I’m talking to her a million miles a minute about my plans and schemes (because, as you know, with coffee, all things are possible), and she goes, well, what about that novel? And I did remember telling her, and started talking about the outline I wanted to work on, so she goes, you’re going to do that outline then? And I said yes, I will. And she goes, so don’t worry about it then because you said you’d do it and you will - but I want to see it the next time you come in here. Okay.
So then today, Sunday, I call my sister Caren like I do because on Sundays I work on my reviews, and she’s my beta. She reads them and gives me her reaction, assures me that they don’t suck, and begs me to make them funnier next time, because she dearly loves to laugh. And then she goes, so how’s the novel? (I’d already lied to her about the outline because while I’d read through the many, many words of crap, I couldn’t bring myself to do any actual work on it.)
It’s about this time that I about broke a gasket, and snapped that everybody needed to leave me alone now, because otherwise I would feel obligated to THEM to write the thing, and not following my own heart. She asked me what happened, and I told her about ALL these people (including my friend Danuta, who likes to call up from time to time to remind me that I could be working on my novel) asking about the damn thing. And she said, “Well, mabye the universe is trying to tell you something,” and I said, “Well maybe it should realize that I’m getting it loud and CLEAR!”
It makes me tired to think about, because the problem is not that I don’t know how the plot’s going to go, because I do, down to the last scene. I might be a little afraid of my subject matter, but that keeps the writing exciting, so that’s okay. The problem is, and this is what I keep telling THEM as well as myself, is that the characters have taken over. I’m not sure why they’re acting the way they are, or how they are supposed to relate to each other, and once I got them started on their journey, they went AWOL on me.
That part is true, but the fact of the matter is that I’m overwhelmed. Just completely OUT of my depth about the entire thing. I’m not sure of my audience, I don’t understand the characters and what they want, I don’t have a handle on the material. It’s like one of those papers you used to do in college the night before the damn thing is due, remember those? You stayed up till 3 am typing your heart out, exhausted and not caring anymore. That’s how this novel feels.
I got a good chunk of it done before I got this temp job in March, and the writing isn’t bad, it’s just that the scenes go all over the place. They’re not heading in the same direction, and the bad guy, I’ll just tell you his name, Mr. McCready, is too bad, too soon. He shows his hand early, which is fine, but things get out of hand because I can’t decide how mean he should really get.
So my plan is this. I’m going to (yes) take the printout that I have to work and make a list of what I need to do. This isn’t makework or distraction, the list has helped me before, and it will do so again. Then I’m going to do a little sketch on each of my main characters, list the minor ones, and then I’m going to take a look at my rising and falling drama. THEN I’m going to rewrite the outline from the begining, so that I’ll have something to show Christine and everyone in six weeks. After that, it’s a peice of cake, right? RIGHT?