I’ve begun revising my current work-in-progress, something called a (air-quote) novel (air-quote). I say (air-quote) novel (air-quote) because right now it’s more of a (air-quote) mess (air-quote). I’m not done with the first draft either, but I’ve stumbled a bit and the stumble requires a re-read and some revision. The stumble is this: I can’t remember where things are.
A gun for instance. My character has one. More than one actually. Where are they, what did he do with them? I don’t recall. It’s been a busy novel. He lost track; I lost track. So, back I go. It’s much better than the alternative which was to keep flogging away at an ending that was turning to mud because I couldn’t remember where items were. It’s also providing me the opportunity to map it all out. A big sheet of paper, lots of lines and arrows. Character locations, object locations, location locations. It’s all going on the map. When I’m done I’m sure I’ll have no idea what the map says, but until then I’m working on it and carrying it in my bag.
It’s also nice to be reminded, every once in a while, during a revision period like this, that some of what I wrote (weeks, months, a year) earlier doesn’t absolutely turn my stomach.
Some of it. Other bits… eh.
I have no words for this.
There’s something to be said for a lack of self-confidence. It turns what might be the boring, staid, somewhat listless life of a writer into a stomach-churning, bowel-rippling, fun-filled ride. I think I’m really learning to enjoy my lack of self-confidence.
The girl in this picture knows about the joys of LOSC. How could she not? Well, maybe she doesn’t. She looks rather happy as a matter of fact. Happy isn’t the word. Detached? Vague? Medicated? Who is she? Some confident woman I suppose, I really don’t know. When searching for an image on Google with the phrase “lack of self-confidence” for this post I found that the image above was number two, behind a stupid cat looking into a mirror:
I wasn’t going to go with a stupid cat. Cats are notoriously self-confident. F*ck cats. They don’t know LOSC and it’s many joys.
What are the joys of LOSC? They are many and multi-colored. They smell like flowers and taste like honey. They cost nothing and come free with any attempt to produce. For instance, rather than work on my morning pages and put them away to move on to other things (photo-shopping politicians heads onto bikini model bodies, for instance; or perhaps creating spam-bot Twitter accounts), I get to work on my morning pages and then revel in my belief that I’m awash in the most formless novel ever (that’s right: ever! I’m number 1!). That clack-clack-clack sound you hear is the roller-coaster of my confidence reaching it’s first peak of the day. What follows that roller-coaster peak? You know. Don’t make me say it.
My L.O.S.C. is also free-wheeling. My wife recently shared some information on a possible venue for her to make a presentation, and I felt an empathic twinge in my lower body as if I was the one who had to make the presentation, and as if I had to do so in roughly ten minutes. Empathic spams – just one benefit of LOSC.
Yes, the life of a writer is gleeful – full of muscle twitches and thoughts of drowning in something labeled “80 proof.” But what to do about it?
Do about it?
You do the work. It’s all I can do. I do my morning pages, think “This is the most formless, predictable and unreadable novel ever” and then I move on. I remind myself that I haven’t even started revising yet. I move on. I remind myself that I’m not done and that even when I am done I probably won’t want to think to much about the novel because all I’ll see are the flaws. I move on. And most important, I take the stomach churning and I bottle it up for tomorrow’s morning session. Sometimes I’m not really awake when I start writing and I need something to give me a boost, to wake me up and get the fingers going. Coffee works. But there’s something better than coffee. Angst. Angst works just fine. I move on.
I may have posted this before, but I don’t care. J.J. Abrams is a smart, smart man. The video is both a “how” and a “why” to writers, and it’s also filled with good tips on how to not hurt Tom Cruise’s nose.