Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Process Examination #21: The Home Stretch

I mentioned that, a few weeks ago, the last handful of chapters in THUMB popped out of my brain in a very vague outline. I was all set two weeks ago when I took time off from work to start the crazy dash to the finish line. And I did manage a good 5K words or more those few days. Then I seemed to lose a bit of steam. I think I've figured out my silly brain again.

Given that my first draft is all about finding a common language for my left and right brains on a particular story, it's unsurprising that the two halves of me will be in synch a bit more somewhere in the third act of the story (I use a four-act structure). That's about at 70K of story, and it makes sense that enough groundwork has been laid down in the draft that the left brain can finally understand a bit better the crazy talk my right brain is using to explain the story. The left-brain/right-brain dictionary (i.e. the first draft) is nearly done.

This is bliss for the left brain. At last, efficiency can take the lead and we can quickly finish the silly draft and start fixing the bloody thing to sell it and publish it and move that career forward, dammit.

The right brain is not as enthused. Afterall, the left brain is jumping ahead of her a bit. Sure, that control freak is getting it mostly the way she sees it, but she's not discovering the story any more and sharing it. And she can't start going through the rest of the draft to find threads that need polishing until the draft is finished because there's a chance something's still lurking there to surprise her, or that a particular way an event in the vague outline is set down will influence the best way to fix something earlier. In essence, the poor thing's bored.

Yes, my brain is so lovely. In the early part of writing a novel, the left brain is hyperfrustrated to the point that progress is often derailed to go back and make the opening "just right" or to stall a scene while researching precisely how ionic propulsion works or to grind forward momentum to a halt by asking logic questions regarding plot point feasibility and such. Meanwhile, the right brain keeps dragging the story along as best she can, working fast to deflect the left brain's issues and keep him engaged. In the later part of writing a novel, the right brain starts to lose interest while the left brain charges ahead with only the goal of "The End" driving him, not caring that he's leaving the creative half behind as he goes.

Just lovely.

(Brief aside: I wonder how much of my ruminations on my process are driven by being a Gemini. I've always tended to think of my self in terms of duality, just seems natural. Taking it to this extreme is a bit new, but still feels normal and not in any way crazy. Wonder what others less comfortable with Gemini's twin-nature think about this.)

The way to combat the early novel left-brain/right-brain combat was to convince the left-brain that the right-brain's way was more efficient in the long-run. To deal with the late novel battle phenomenon, I think I need to convince the right-brain that the left-brain is looking at the story from a completely different perspective that will probably surprise her (or at least entertain in its simplicity and/or ridiculousness). If she's waiting to see what the left-brain will do next with the story as vaguely outlined, she might be more willing to contribute her part to finishing the silly book.

I'm really looking forward to putting my revision process in terms of this left-brain/right-brain conflict. Now that they have a common language to use in discussing this story, nothing else can possibly go wrong, right? Heehee.

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