Wednesday, June 22, 2011

No Touches

An all day drive with three animals, heavy rain, and a GPS with nutty ideas. 
Not a writing day.

The first day in two weeks that I haven't touched my book. I'm feeling as though I should visit it now, just to maintain continuity, but I am tired, and having not worked, chances are I'll look at it and see problems I shouldn't see right now, doubt sentences that aren't meant to be questioned at this stage. In fact, everything may be fine--but I'm not meant to judge yet. I'm not at that stage.

So much of getting through piece of work is knowing at what stage you are and not wishing you were further along. Maybe it comes of being twelve, a whole long year of twelve, and wishing you were older. That's a wish, though. You still have to be twelve for as long as it takes; 365 days. You have to finish the first stage of your book, as long as it takes, before you can move to the second. The first stage can take 50 drafts or none. The first stage is figuring it out.

Then on to stage two. Writing. That comes after figuring it out, which maybe was also writing--but not the same kind.

Stage three. Better writing. This is when you translate all the creepy, cloying, sentimental, dumb sentences into literature. Fun! 

Stage Four. Out the door/in the drawer. Show people or not. But it's ready to leave the desk.

Stage one is a toughie, because it can take a long time. I think of writers, big writers, who I've heard say took eight or nine or ten years to figure a book out (and maybe hundreds of pages tossed), and then one or two to write it. Who doesn't want that eight, nine, ten years to go faster? Who doesn't wish for it all to be figured out shortly after you have an idea?

(Looking back, you can always see why it took so long to get through stage one. You hadn't gone deep enough inside yourself, or you were focusing on the wrong aspect, or you needed the right person in your life et cetera. It's often a matter of personal development more than it is a matter of ability. You have to grow up enough to understand your own idea. A twelve year old can be as intellectually quick as anybody, a math genius, a phenom in many arenas, but a twelve year old is a kid. A kid can't write Anna Karenina. Writing is for adults. Most people take a while to get there--past age 21.)

When I don't get a touch in during a day I am anxious that I will slip back down the tunnel into darkness. I get muddled about the stages again. Usually what I'll do is to jump to Stage Three, better writing, and doll up a few sentences. That can feel good for a little while, but it can also go very wrong, and become a channel for doubting every sentence. It's much better to sit down and have an honest think about where I am. To wait until I can really suit up to even look.

Can I resist opening the file? If it were cookies, I'd throw them out. I can't throw out my computer, though. Dammit! I think I've just made a case for being an adult, which, after a day like this one, means going to bed like a twelve year old.


  1. This is just so true. How depressingly long it seems when you're going through Stage 1. But how worth it when you finally get to the end of it. The thinking through is so hard. The writing is often so much easier. It does seem unfair, writing, lovely writing and to have to push it away to think.

  2. I know! Frustrating. It's a real endurance test.

  3. mixing it up between stages 1 and 3, i am. so wonderful to read you--and so helpful. back to thinking now.