That Was Weird.

My novelists’ support discussion group met tonight, and for the first time I didn’t want to talk about how the novel is going.  As I casually mentioned in yesterday’s post, I’ve put Meet the Larssons aside for a while, to gain some additional distance and to work on Project Hometown (which needs a better working title, I know).  Tonight, I really felt how big a decision that was, and started to regret it.

I took a two month break from MTL when I finished the first draft last October, but that was in triumph, and I was giddy with the flush of accomplishment.  This time, I’ve been screwing around with the revisions for close to six months and have nothing to show for it except 350 pages of manuscript covered with blue scrawl (bad) and 150 pages that haven’t been touched yet (worse) plus notes for scenes that haven’t been written yet (worst).  This break isn’t a well-deserved rest, it feels like an admission of defeat.

Revision is hard work, and requires more organization and consistency of effort than writing the first draft.  For the last several months, I haven’t been able to commit to that much self-discipline because things have picked up so much at the office; I’ve been traveling a lot, blah blah blah.  I can make all of the excuses for myself that I want, but they’re all bullshit.

What it really comes down to is that as I reworked the book, I lost the voice of Jake, the main character.  I couldn’t get inside his head any more, and with a book told entirely in the first person, being stuck on the outside is problematic.  He became flat, and passive, and finally I just wanted to stop.  I still expect to come back to Jake and Meet the Larssons in a few months.  Maybe in August when we’re on vacation, and I’ll have a little more time; maybe when I finish the first draft of — or get stuck in the middle of — Project Hometown.  Whatever.  Oh no, poor writer-man, lost his character’s voice! Author FAIL.

I outlined Project Hometown pretty thoroughly over the winter, about 40 pages worth of synopses, character backstory, plot notes, etc.  I’m hoping to move this draft along more quickly, and maintain a better story arc than I did with MTL.  The main characters are all a little angsty, but I’m hoping the process of writing it will be less angst-ridden than MTL was.

Angsty Writer Poetry

Little Unfocused Me

Lost his MC

and didn’t know where to find him…


5 responses to “That Was Weird.

  1. Somehow the thrill of a new project tends to overwhelm the necessity of editing and rewriting. I have a first draft that’s been sitting the past few months that I hope to reopen in the summer. Until then I’ll be working on another project, both new and exciting.

  2. Oh, how I can relate. Seems I’ve been revising this WIP forever. Sometimes I hate revision (the days it feels like endless torture); and other days I love it. (the days when I liken it to sculpture- getting rid of all that doesn’t belong)

    Good luck with yours!

  3. I relate but part of me would fear that stopping work on it would mean you wouldn’t know if you’d go back to it at all.

    Though I ditched a novel in 2004-05 and came back to rewrite it completely at the end of last year. It’s on the side once again though.

  4. I don’t think you’ve failed. What it says is that you indeed do need to set it aside – like bread dough – and let it rise by itself for a while. When you come back to it, you’ll see it with fresh eyes. I experienced that very same “lost the character’s voice” thing when I was just too close to my novel…in a bad way. I picked it back up later and was able to see it from a different perspective, slightly more objective (if that’s even possible), but I was able to (I hope) find that voice and make sure it was the same voice from beginning to end. A lot of reconstruction occurred. Many things were deleted. But new chapters emerged out of nowhere that never would have been born if I hadn’t set it aside for awhile. I’m very VERY close to having this iteration of the novel completed. Then, I will compose another agent/publisher letter. Send my baby into the world again.

    Don’t beat yourself up. Send that novel to military school. When it comes back, it won’t steal your car in the middle of the night anymore.

  5. I’ve been dancing around my third revision for awhile, but I think for me it is the old hobgoblin again, fear. What if after all that hard work, it is still junk? I’ve grown a little distant from the work, perhaps enough that I can really tear it down and rebuild it as I should, but I still believe it is good work none the less.

    Give it time and perhaps you will be able to hear Jake again.

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