The First Cuts
There’s an anecdotal story about Michelangelo’s David which goes something like the artist spent 15 months just staring at the marble before he ever cut into it.
I feel that way about this novel. An awful lot of staring is going on and not so much is happening with the cutting (writing). It’s the damn plot. I’ve constructed it in a way that for the next 4-5 chapters the whole rest of the book is set up. This is the climb towards the crest of the rollercoaster. And if I go off the track now, the whole thing will fail. I want to get this right. Which means I’ve been stabbing at the same couple paragraphs for the last week and a half.
To continue the stream of unrelated and piss-poor metaphors: this is probably the writing equivalent to opening the oven door every two minutes to check on the cookies. I know I need to stop obsessing and apply word to page. Let the whole thing sort itself out later. If I break it, I break it. That’s what editing is for, right?
The only problem is that once again I’m faced with the paralyzing fear that I’ll break this draft as badly as the first one and have to rewrite the novel in its entirety again. And again. I deeply respect and admire authors who are able to run through five or six or more completely different drafts of the same novel. I really do. I’m just not sure I have the fortitude to be one of them. We all have our own styles, our own ways of writing and working. I don’t think I’m a gazillion draft writer. Or maybe I am and I haven’t accepted my fate. Who knows?
I think I’m going to just try to press on. If the novel ends up broken in a way that small scene rewrites and repairs won’t solve I think I’ll be done with this book for a while. I’ll stick it in the proverbial drawer and move on to the next novel. Lessons learned. I can’t take another rewrite, this one is hard enough. Hopefully my future first drafts won’t be quite as broken as this one was. I have a feeling writing the thing on a bet in 19 days pretty much doomed me there.
I also think my next project will be fantasy. Probably the Welsh fairytale novel. It will require minimal research and have nothing to do with science. Making the world believable and constructing the pseudo-science is one of the things slowing my current novel project down a great deal. The next novel that requires research will definitely get better research done before I write it.
Of course, the next novel that will take lots of research will likely be my thesis project. I’m hoping I can do the War Witches idea as my thesis. That novel is slowly percolating and building in my mind and would be perfect for a MA thesis. Lots of research, lots of history, lots of texture, and plenty of Important Themes to explore.
All right. Back to hacking up the stone. Which really feels a lot like trying to gnaw the David out of titanium. With my teeth.