Monday, July 4, 2011

Do I have to?

I've finally finished draft 1 of my new TV pilot and, to quote Ed Grimley, I couldn't be more excited I must say. I need some time away from it before I edit it and send it off to my TV-minded friend whose opinion means a lot. So what to do now? Back to the book, perhaps? It is tempting, but it's also nauseating.

Every time I think about opening my manuscript I want to cry and then run away. Literally run away -- to a grande frappucino spiked with vodka and a gluten-free vegan brownie waiting for me on a patio overlooking mating whales off the coast of a mystical isle where writing a book is a crime punishable by death. "So don't even start, you hear me!" *guns blazing* And don't even think about finishing!"

The thought of returning to the book that I've been struggling with for so long is incredibly unappealing because my TV writing still feels so full of possibility. But I can't just let this book die without giving it one more try, can I? What to do? What to do? I've tried a few things: time away, staying busy with other projects, talks with my fellow writers, reading tons of other excellent books... but none of these strategies have driven me back to A Happy Armageddon. Most recently, I bought and read a self-help book hoping that would give me the kick in the pants I needed, but I found it unhelpful given the stage I'm at: book completed but in need of one more revision. It's a psychological issue more than an inspirational, technical or voice problem.

Oh how I miss those problems. They were so easy to solve: just keep writing, dummy. It's the "finish writing it again, dummy" that's proving to be my greatest struggle. Because I know that this is the end. Either this last revision works or it doesn't. And, if I'm being honest with myself, that's a really crushing reality check. I thought I was ready to let go of the five years I've spent with this story because I had moved on. I thought that was why I couldn't face it again -- because I didn't need it anymore, because I was too busy with my other ideas, because I didn't care. But I know now that that's not true. That I can't finish it because I'm worried that it will finish me.

I've been thinking about writing a new short story in the meantime. I have a plot in mind and a Moose Jaw setting all picked out. Even some research completed. Maybe I'll give it a try. F-ck, I don't know.

Ugh. I should have been a plumber.


  1. I was having a similar conversation with a writer friend of mine the other evening. It's the "fear of success/fear of failure" syndrome. I can't tell you how many projects I have that always got to 90% complete, and then I would just...stop. For Secernere, I literally had to rent a cabin on top of a mountain in the middle of the woods and spend a week alone to get the last bit done. It had to be a tangible, literal commitment on my part to just do it.

    It sounds like this is giving you a lot of pain, so I recommend the band-aid approach. Do it now, do it fast, and don't pause in the middle. This is going to be a monkey on your back for 5 MORE years if you dont' get it off now. Start your final revision now and don't look back. Then you can have a clear head and heart when you move on to other projects. Don't let this one hold you back.

    My two cents. :)

  2. Thanks for your very wise advice, Elly. You're right, I just need to do it and move on. I love that you went somewhere secluded and quiet and just worked. I've been dreaming about doing the same.

  3. Hi Emily: Hang in there. You are probably closer to a breakthrough than you can imagine.

  4. Thanks Evadne. I really needed to hear that. :)

  5. Just do it! You can't let something die that you've worked so hard at, even if only 5 people read it! You could try reading "The Follow Through Factor" by Gene Hayden. That's the book that pushed me past that nauseating stage.

  6. You're right, Tara. I can't let it die. I think I will try that book you recommended. Maybe some hard alcohol, too. It worked for Hemingway.