Friday, December 18, 2009

the giant imaginative pit

Yesterday morning, around 10 a.m. at Café de Leche, I typed the last word of the first draft of the aforementioned circus novel (it was “air”).

Do you like how dramatic I tried to make that sound, what with the time stamp and all? AK was reminding me that it’s important to celebrate, so even though my first thought was more like Fuck, I better get to work than Yay, me!, I’m trying to be more yay-me after the fact.

Because even four hundred pages of nonsense is still four hundred pages, right? So what if the circusy part of the novel fizzles out midway and it becomes more of a cruise ship/runaway/mermaid novel? So what if I forgot that one of my main characters is a musician, and he never plays music after chapter four? So what if the draft is full of forced life lessons and out-of-the-blue epiphanies that don’t even mean that much to me, because my 12th grade English teacher was a stickler for books having themes?

The last novel (the one that I’m juuust starting to send to agents and publishers) was the first I’d ever really outlined right from the start. I don’t think my then-writing-group would have put up with unchecked meandering. For better or worse, I have no writing group right now. So I gave myself permission—in fact, I made it a mandate—to be as weird and imaginative and embarrassing as I could. It’s first-draft advice that I’d give to any writer…but now I’m the one who has to dig myself out of the giant imaginative pit I created.

I’m going to take the holidays off, although I might work on a short story if I’m feeling energetic and brave. Then I’ll read draft one to see if it makes any sense and/or sounds too much like a goth teenager’s idea of magic realism. Then: some circus research and draft two. I may be busy enough in 2010 without any new year’s resolutions. But my holiday resolution is to chill out.


Claire said...

400 pages is awesome! As is stretching yourself creatively. Congrats!

Of course, now I'm looking at the two stacks of pages in the corner, perhaps an inch and a half thick together, that I have not touched in months. This time last year, I was writing like mad. Now I'm not convinced those stacks are worth additional effort.

Photos or words, my brain seems ambivalent, focusing on one then the other. I feel good about my photographic pursuits of late though, so for me, I think it's ok to let the words rest.

Cheryl said...

I think switching to another medium is a great way to energize your creative synapses. Sometimes I wish I were a little more flexible in that regard (or that I had skills in another medium). I bet something cool and unexpected will come from it.

Peter Varvel said...

Yay, you!
I would pay money to read a cruise ship/runaway/mermaid novel.

Cheryl said...

If the cruise ship survives into draft two, I am totally going to ask you to be an expert interviewee.

Meehan said...

obviously i am in favor of cruise ship narratives.

Laura and the family said...

400 pages???

Taking yourself a chill out will do your brain good. Perhaps you will be able to do more on the second drafts. I do that a lot when I write Christmas Newsletter.

Cheryl said...

M: The only problem is, I think you already wrote the definitive one. Mine could probably use more murderous intrigue and near-drownings.

L: Yep, between-draft breaks are to novels as fermentation is to wine. I just hope I haven't written the Charles Shaw of novels. (Actually, that stuff sells like crazy. So maybe I TOTALLY hope I've written the Charles Shaw of novels.)