What Do I Do Now?

So I wrote my stupid novel.  Well, I puked out a rough bunch of words that, when combined, contain a loose plotline and a few characters, anyway.

I've done it before.  I get a bunch of stuff written down and then I lose interest.  Or maybe I lose motivation?  I hate rewrites.  Editing makes me crazy.  It takes so much time.  I want to magic it all away.  Although, in truth, what I really hate is the fact that I'm not Mozart.  I can't produce a perfect symphony in my head and then just write it as if taking dictation.

This has been one of the biggest struggles of my lifetime - coming to terms with my ordinaryness.  Somehow, I always thought I would be really good at something.  Turns out, not so much.  Or at least if there is something, I haven't found it yet.

Another struggle is, I don't want to put the effort into getting good.  I was a much better writer in college, when I wrote all the time, than I am now.  I had to write all the time.  It was my major.  I had to produce.  It was good practice. 

I need to make myself do this exercise of editing the gelatinous mass of words.  But then I think then what? and I lose motivation. 

I know the journey is supposed to be the destination, so to speak, but sometimes a milestone or a landmark or something to indicate we're going in the right direction (or any direction at all) is nice.  I need a signpost.  Since I'm not seeing one, I guess I have to make one.


Duffy Pratt said...

There's a big difference between not being Mozart and being ordinary. Check out the scratch outs in Beethoven's manuscripts. Chopin would agonize over details in his music that other people basically don't hear.

There's a story of Flaubert being overjoyed one day because he had managed to write two words, because they were the right two words. There's some examples I've seen of very rough drafts of Yeats' unpublished work, and it looks like mediocre stuff, not like Yeats at all.

The sad truth is that, once the first draft is done, the hard work is just beginning. And what makes writers really good is not the ability to write, but the ability to polish.

Having said all that, just writing a draft of a novel is a pretty good accomplishment. But if you are thinking about publishing it and having other people read it, then there probably is no getting around the fact that it will take much more work. And even Mozart, who may not have written the way people now claim, probably worked on stuff for quite a while before writing it down. That just means that the work was not visible, not that it wasn't there.

Dorothy said...

Ah, Duffy. Ever the voice of reason. Yes. I have work to do. Or not. There's a choice. I can leave it or I can work on it. But I take your point. Maybe I was being a little dramatic?

thedancingj said...

Hah - Duffy took the words right out of my mouth! You sound a little bit burned out. But if you want to write a book, finishing the first draft IS that signpost! It doesn't matter if it's good. First drafts aren't SUPPOSED to be good. That's why they're called drafts. Now I guess you've gotta find a way to fall in love with editing. Rewriting is my favorite part of writing. To me, it feels like in my first drafts I just take a bunch of unformed ideas out of my head and chuck them onto a piece of paper. Then once it's all written down, I can go through my own thoughts, pick out the good bits, rearrange, add a little something extra, and shape it into something decent and maybe interesting! It's like putting together a puzzle. *shrug* Is that even slightly helpful?

bikramyogachick said...

I found you on Hannahs blog. Even before I pieced together that we lived in the same city I thought "wow, this girl can write".
Don't ever say you aren't great at something. You are.
From what I can tell you are great at yoga and great at writing.
Go edit that book. Publish it!

hannahjustbreathe said...

You do know I'm an editor by trade...

We should start a virtual writing club! Oh wait. I think that's what our blogs already are. Shoot.

Dorothy said...

Thanks, ladies, for the encouragement. And yes, Hannah, I know you're an editor. And one day I may call upon you for a favor... I actually like editing - as long as it isn't my own work. Maybe I can pretend it isn't mine and everything will be better? Who knows. I'll just start.

LiLu said...

"Somehow, I always thought I would be really good at something. Turns out, not so much."

Me too... and me too.


Dorothy said...

Lilu - it's good to know it's not just me...