Friday, July 19, 2013

Dialog With My Inner Writer

So I drafted another novel this past November for National Novel Writing Month.  Yes, I really did write more than 50,000 words in 30 days, and yes, I did come out with a big, creative mess.  The story line is interesting, the work is super gritty, some might even say pornographic.  But the protagonist is a recovering heroin addict who spends half her time in jail, the other half in a psych hospital, so what do you expect--descriptions of druggie houses to be pretty?  They are not, at least in this novel, which you would find if you read it, which you probably won't because it's in draft form, and I really have no intention of working on it.

Then why am I telling you this?

I'm struggling.  Part of me wants to do something with the novel, the other part says, "Noooooooooooooo!  It's too much work!"  The more practical side says, "Even if you do finish, what will you do with it?  It's just another book to market and you already have four."  Another one of me says, "You've got at least ten short stories to get typed up and revised.  Isn't completing that a more realistic goal?"

Then there are the other arguments going on.

"Besides, you should be writing poetry."

"Why?  Am I confined to poetry?"

"No, but you are a poet, and you aren't writing poetry because you don't have your head in the right place."

"Maybe I don't feel like writing poetry.  Maybe I want to write prose right now."

"Oh, I suppose that's why you forced yourself to write that essay the other day?  Put the emphasis on 'forced.'"

"I didn't 'force' myself.  Okay, maybe I did in a way because I've been doing so much writing for other people and so much other work, I did have to get myself to settle down and concentrate--you know, ignore incoming email, shut off Scrabble and just write.  But that's normal.  Writers have to discipline themselves to get anything done."

"Okay, so let's say you are not in the mood for poetry but at least you are somewhat back to blog writing.  How would that make you disciplined enough to work on your novel?"

"Who said I decided to work on my novel?"

"Let's pretend for a moment.  You're a writer. Use your imagination."

"Okay, well I guess I would set aside some time every day to add to and edit my novel.  But it would have to be just a few minutes every day because otherwise, the same thing would happen that always happens to me--I would get bored into unconsciousness with my characters."

"Yes, I know that happens to you.  This character didn't seem to bore you, though."

"That's because she's a total nut.  Besides, the structure is such that I can write from scene to scene without having to connect those scenes into drawn out chapters.  The character goes from jail to the psych hospital to her crack house to her current life.  It's kind of like a quilt."

"Okay, so you wouldn't have that obstacle, right?  So why not work on the damn novel?"

"I suppose saying I'm too busy is just an excuse."

"Yes, that is an excuse."

"It really does come down to, 'What the hell would I do with another novel?'"

"What would you do with another short story or poem?"

"That's different.  I blog those and put them together.  I can use them later if I want to make a book."

"Why can't you do the same with your novel?"

"Er, I don't know.  I never thought about it."

"Or you could submit various chapters as independent short stories, then put them together later as a novel."

"But what would I DO with the novel?  I mean, what's the point?  I'm not going to make money."

"Do you think your novel can make a difference?"

"Actually, yes, I do.  There are some real social issues that come through in this book.  It was partly inspired by what I learned when I was working in the jail."

"Then there is a purpose in getting it out there, just like there was in getting your first novel out."

"Well, true.  And I know I have learned a lot since getting that novel published.  A second novel would be much different."

"Then why not do it?"

"Oh I don't know.  I'd have so much research to do!"

"So?  Are you on a deadline that I am not aware of?"

"I guess not."

"Are you afraid to open the book, so to speak, and confront what is there?"

"Not the topic, no, but I am afraid of the mess and being overwhelmed by it.  National Novel Writing Month is an awesome way to kick-start a project, but you don't come out with anything near a final draft."

"Wouldn't working just a few minutes a day combat being overwhelmed?"

"I suppose."

"So what else are you afraid of?"

"Giving up in the middle."

"But you've given up all this time already.  What do you have to lose?"

"True."

"Are you afraid of something else?"

"Being lazy.  Maybe I am just lazy."

"You are SO not lazy.  Your brain just gets on overload."

"But what about everything else I have to do?"

"It can wait 15-30 minutes a day."

"What if I skip a day?"

"So what?  Write more the next or within the next three days. You know how you get once you are immersed."

"Just forget about the whole and take it in parts, huh?  Is that what you are saying?"

"That is what YOU are saying.  We're both you, remember?"

"Oh yeah.  That's right.  I am talking to myself."

"So what did you decide?"

"I'll think about it.  Maybe this weekend.  Half the battle is just getting myself to open the document."

"I am sure you can overcome that hurdle, dear.  You've faced much worse in your life."

"Yeah, you'd think this would pale by comparison, huh?"

"It does, dear.  Now drink your coffee and answer your emails.  You can pat yourself on the back for allowing this dialog to happen--on a blog no less."

"Okay.  Cheers."

"Cheers, my neurotic friend!"
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