Friday’s deadline looms on the horizon, and I honestly don’t know if I’m going to make it.
I had a couple busy days this week, but I managed to put in writing time. Working on Chapter Two the last couple days has been really slow going. The words are in there somewhere, but I can’t quite tease them out.
Chapter Two has a fundamental problem: way too much dialogue. I know this just by eyeballing the first dozen pages. All people do is talk, and there is too little action.
As I was editing this chapter, something occurred to me. The feeling I get writing the chapter might be the same feeling for a reader to read it. If it feels like a slog to me as the writer, then it will feel like a slog to my readers. Now I’m tempted to erase every stupid word and start over.
In my senior year of college, I took two semesters of fiction writing. In each course our assignment was to write two short stories to be work-shopped in class.
Each time the first short story came easy to me, but the second short story was a train wreck. I put all my effort into what I thought was a great idea. Then a week before it was due, I had a breakdown of sorts. I hit a wall, and suddenly the story seemed like utter garbage. Whether this was based on fear or reality, it’s hard to say.
In moments like this my strategy is to set the piece aside and work on something else. As a creative type, it’s always a good idea to work on a few different pieces at a time.
When I was working on Chapter One, I hopped between the main chapter and the sub-chapter. If I got stuck on the main chapter, then I worked on the sub chapter. I felt like I was working on something, while at the same time meeting part of my deadline. Sometimes walking away from the work and coming back to it gives me a fresh perspective.
I am fighting the impulse to throw the damn thing away as I did in college. And I have not been walking away from it and putting my energy into something else. My instinct tells me to stick with it and labor through each passage. Sometimes we have to accept that the nature of the work we’re doing is a slow grind.