Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Process Examination #14: It Seems Cruel That Logic Should Let Me Down

I hadn't intended to take a day off from writing today. The easiest source of blame is Emma Bull's Territory, a story that absolutely sucked me in and refused to let go until I read the last page not an hour ago. But I have to be honest and admit I was looking for an excuse to step away from writing today. I didn't really need to, at least, not where PPR is concerned. It's just that the stutters and stalls and hiccups of THUMB have me all twisted and turned, trying to figure out where things went wrong this time.

As I mentioned yesterday, logic is what did me in. Or, rather, strict adherence to a logical flow of time and events and patterns. I've been writing THUMB in such a way as to cover just about every single waking minutes in these characters' lives, highlighting the dialog and character interactions and downplaying the action. Finally, in the past two days, I figured out why: I had set up a POV rotation pattern that I slavishly followed, forcing events to unfold in this step-by-step way, revealing what happened as the clock ticked on because that's exactly what that POV pattern demanded I do unless I wanted to pass too many important things by. For example, I couldn't skip ahead a couple of days in Jasper's POV because that would mean having to summarize and infodump on important things that had happened during those days in Elzie's and Rafe's POV. And I couldn't not have the Jasper POV scene because I had set up a structure based on it being there.

Logic has been my friend for a very, very long time. I suspect it still is, but it's laughing at me for taking it so literal. The laughter wouldn't hurt so much were it not for the fact that literal logic would get me to a completed draft, but it would take a good deal more than 100,000 words and a couple of months. And the revision process would be murder. Literal logic is not the way to write novels. Rather, it's not the way to write this novel.

So I'm trying to shift gears and ease the POV pattern and loosen my stranglehold on logic for Act 2. And I'm trying to do it without going back to rewrite Act 1. And I'm trying not to think about the fact that writing short fiction, even a novella, seems to be easier for my brain to parse. I want to write novels. I have tons of novel-length stories in me to tell, and I have to tell them. And I'd rather not take years to get each one out of me.

Part of the reason I started this series of posts was to, obviously, examine my writing process in frequent, honest terms that would help me navigate my way from the beginning of a story idea through to the point that I decided to cut the cord and send it out into the world. I can think of a number of different ways to interpret this crossroads I feel is before me and, in so doing, pick a direction. All of them, if I wrote them out here, would likely sound extremely plausible. All of them would point in different directions.

So why don't I cut right to the chase? Any falter now feels like it's admitting I can't finish a novel. That was the Awful Troof I feared back when I set aside SoZ for this crusade. And here I am, roundabouts the end of Act 1, with 40K words in the story, hitting a speedbump that has me looking back at the starting line and wondering if maybe I should try this race over again.

Damn. It. To. Hell.

No. Screw this. I'm going to finish this damn book. And I'm going to do it by the end of January, as I know I can. I'm going to take the ideas I've got to get me to the end and, by golly, use them to get me there. They may not be perfect, they may not work as well as something I'll figure out later, but they will get me to a completed draft and then I'll fix the stupid thing, no matter how painful that process is going to be.

Take that, logic.

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