It seems almost unfair, after the excitement of the last two days, that things really have to return to normal now. It’s not like I’ve spent the last two days in front of the TV with my Stars-and-Stripes beer hat on, watching the live count, or anything like that. In reality, life has been pretty much as expected for me. The thrilling suspense of waiting for the election result, and then the sheer exuberant joy of yesterday, did add a little sparkle to proceedings, though – you need that sort of celebration, once in a while.
Oh well. The President is back in his White House, wrestling with his opponents, and I’m here, wrestling with my WiP. So, I guess all’s as it should be. ‘God’s in his heaven, all’s right with the world’, and all that stuff.
Yes – I’m still here, working away on my ever-increasing novel. I say ‘ever-increasing’, because every day that goes by sees my word count going up; I was hoping I’d be making the work into a leaner, trimmer beast at this stage, but it refuses to cooperate. I likened the writing process the other day to hanging wallpaper, and not just because they both involve hard and messy work – it goes deeper than that. In essence, when you’ve hung your strip of wallpaper, you’re faced with a wall which looks okay – the paper is hung, the pattern is there, and it seems solid enough. Then you stand back and you see it – the dreaded bubble! Out comes the scraper, and you gently push the air bubble away, thinking all the while how clever you are and how effectively you’ve removed the problem. But of course all you’ve done is move the air pocket somewhere else, and it pops up again at random.
And so on, and so on.
This is how it’s been for the last while – I’m essentially doing a major rewrite, and not an editing job. Every time I fix one problem, another pops up somewhere else in the text, and as I rewrite, there are more and more things that need to be changed. So, really, it’s no surprise that the word count is growing. Yesterday, I wrote nearly 6,000 words, but I deleted about 3,000; I’m looking upon this as a positive, because a lot of this beast deserves nothing better than to be deleted forever. As I mentioned here on the blog in recent days, I’m overhauling my protagonist – I’m not changing her, just giving her more opportunities to show what she can do. Already, she’s gone from being a meek hand-wringing dutiful daughter who stands around waiting for someone to tell her what to do, to someone who breaks out of home in the middle of the night, gets lost in a rough part of town while looking for a boy, and fights off a bunch of attackers. Essentially, she’s gone from being a portrayal of me as I was at her age, to a portrayal of the kind of girl I wished I’d been at her age. That’s got to be a good thing. I was a very boring teenager.
But my first draft wasn’t a total waste of time – I have to keep telling myself this. It’s deeply flawed, and several characters are not what I wanted them to be, but I had to go through the process of writing it in order to be where I am now. I know that Draft 2 is still not exactly right, but it’s a whole lot closer to being what I want to produce than Draft 1 was. I had to work through the story and get it ‘finished’ – after a fashion – in order to have the ability to go back to it and assess it as a whole; even now, I’m restraining myself from going back to the beginning of Draft 2 and starting to rework it! I have to remind myself to just keep going, finish the thing, and look at it as a complete piece of work before starting to correct it again.
My plan is to have Draft 2 done by the end of November – I’m currently just under halfway through it, so I hope I’ll manage that. Then, I’m going to make a print-out of the whole thing, and go through it again with my trusty red pen. I think I’ll be better able to cross out whole paragraphs of dross with a pen in my hand, rather than doing it on-screen; somehow, deleting your own words on a screen seems so much harder, I think. It makes it too personal, or something. With a hard copy of the book and a red pen, I can call up my old tutor-persona, and my grammar, punctuation, spelling, structure and clarity sensors can automatically switch on; I can pretend I’m marking a very long essay which doesn’t belong to me at all, and get through it ruthlessly. Fingers crossed.
And you know, sometimes it can get hard to remember to switch your brain off, from time to time. I’m doing my best to remain calm about this whole thing, despite the fact that I have a deadline of January 2013 looming in my brain. Something which really helps me remain calm, and remember to keep my happy side out, is the fact that I have such a great husband. This morning, before he left for work, we danced together in the kitchen for a few minutes, just because we could. How could a person have a bad day when it begins with a moment like that? If I find myself getting too entangled in this book, and starting to get stressed over it, all I have to do is remember that lots of people are rooting for me, and I can do this.
And if I can do it, so can you.