Better a Better Time

Chapter five is still in progress, if you can believe it. Every time I think it’s wrapping up, it finds a new tangent to explore. I think that’s actually one of the things that has been slowing me down. There are the practical issues, sure — moving house, a less ideal working space, increased demands on my time — but I could work around those if I wanted. The real problem is that when I don’t know what I’m doing I go into heavy procrastination. The more frustrated I feel, the more detached I become and the harder it is for me to get into the right headspace. That struggle frustrates me all the more, and eventually I throw my hands up.

The solution there is to just notice the cycle, lean back, let it drain away, and actively try to place myself where I need to be. It will slip, many times — but meanwhile I will scrabble out a little text. And the more I do it, the easier it is to cling.

I think I’m also impatient. This chapter is sort of an intermission from the main story, and I left that on a cliffhanger just when I was getting into the material that I really want to write about. I don’t like the nonlinear approach, but the linear one is bogging me down. I need to chill and appreciate where I am and what I’m doing. This stuff is interesting and important too, and it will tie in later. Write in the moment.

While we’re here: revised word cloud.

Chapter 5

Crimson and Ivory

Often I despair of this project, particularly as I start a new chapter. Though I sit here, days pass when hardly a word goes down. I read what I’ve written, and it seems so forced. Clearly I’m on the wrong track, but I don’t know if I can change direction.

Then something shifts. I change a few words, add a few sentences at the start, and it all makes sense. It flows. It could use another draft, like anything — maybe some expansion — but it works. Then the momentum kicks in. It’s working, so it just keeps working, building, growing.

And the changes are so small. It’s the tiniest details that trip me; the wrong syntax, or the right thoughts in the wrong order. I get flustered. I give up. I need to quit that.

This chapter isn’t the one that I wanted to write; it’s the one that the book has presented to me. There will be a place for that chapter, but right now this demands to exist. I think I moved that chapter up, anyway. Originally it was to come much later in the book; it was only while mapping out the book on a napkin, in a sleazy diner at Coney Island, that it wound up so early in the list.

It seems the more that I plan this book the more that it defies me. It was a cordial relationship so long as we kept ambling toward some vague goals together. I should know better than to exert my will over these things. I know that I’m not in control here; I just get it in my head that I need to be professional, or responsible. And then there’s this power struggle, and I come away frustrated.

The book will always win. Got to get that into my head. Just go with it. It has its reasons.

My wife and I want to express the most profound gratitude to Ryan Newman for his support of this project. Thanks also to everyone who has been following along and encouraging our progress.

A Growing Horror

This week has been eventful; until last night I barely feel that I got any rest. My writing has suffered a bit. For a few days I barely wrote, and what I did write I hated. It just wasn’t working — and the structure was all out of whack. Every few paragraphs I would realize that I had forgotten to establish something, or to include a passage that I had wanted, or had just paced things poorly and needed more breathing room — meaning my moleskine is a maze of brackets and arrows, threatening to confuse my ever more constant inline corrections.

Then I got some rest, and I took a day off. Today I went for a stroll, and several mental blocks Tetrised into place. The linear writing is back on track, which is lovely; more significantly, my notes have begun to click. I now understand the nature and logic of some key story elements, and I now know how to approach a few difficult chapters.

The horrible secret has become that much more horrible. Which is to say, it has become that much more relatable. I dread to explain it all to my wife. Perhaps I had best let that element reveal itself in the writing.

Thanks to everyone who has been following the process, and to everyone who has donated. You have done wonders already. For anyone who missed the post about the reward scheme we have in place, go check it out. It’s kind of neat, we think.

Progress will probably speed up for the next few days.

Under the Shades

The progress continues on chapter two. Whereas the first chapter materialized of its own accord within a matter of days, this next block has been a struggle. Part of my trouble, I think, is the shift in perspective. I know the story from Bill’s point of view. I have no trouble there. To wear another character is to run the story through a fussy manual translation. I know who these people are, but it’s trickier to understand how they work outside of Bill’s own knowledge.

Then my wife suggested music. I don’t know how I’ve gone this far without it, but that’s the catalyst I needed. Turn off the rational thought. Stop second-guessing, and just let the characters talk. And splash, there’s a good hunk of the chapter. Now if I just had some Haribo and a steady supply of Moxie — that would really quell the inner editor. Note for a future day. (These are links to my wife’s Amazon store, yes.)

In other news, we have our first donation! Though not quite anonymous I get the sense that the donor prefers to slip by quietly, so I will save my thanks for the eventual foreword. He can’t escape that.

The momentum continues, and every page brings new threads to explore. I get the sense that I am going to want to read this thing when it’s finished.

Thank you all for your support on Facebook, Twitter, and elsewhere. Continue to spread the word and keep tuning in. There will be more to see soon.