Sunday, July 22, 2012

Writing without getting anything written

In 2010 I wrote a story for National Novel Writing Month, NaNoWriMo, an annual "write a book in a month" thing that I like to participate in. I liked the story I wrote. I liked it a lot. But, it needs some work done on it. Every reader who was kind enough to read it as I wrote it or after it was done agreed that the ending felt rushed. Initially I tried explaining that I meant for it to end a) quickly and b) without resolution to some of the bigger things. I'd written it on purpose as an open-ended story where the characters changed and grew and we got to know them and they got to know each other but the setting they were in wasn't the thrust of the story. Sort of like how you can have The Sound of Music without knowing how the war ended. They were there, and it was there story and big things were happening around them and while they may have some small part in the things going on around them they weren't big time operators... they couldn't actually change what was happening in a big way.

I still feel like that. But the readers didn't like it at all. That doesn't mean I'm right and I picked bad readers. It means I need to fix it so that within the context of my over all goal of smaller story within a bigger story, they still feel like there was a story arc with a beginning middle and end that is satisfying without knowing how the bigger story around them winds up. 

So, I've been looking at the story a lot. I've been proof reading it and getting my head back into the space where it was when I wrote the thing in the first place. I've changed some lines, some paragraphs, and I've deleted whole chunks of it that didn't add to either story but were, truth be told, probably written as a way to hit the 50k mark in NaNoWriMo. Some of the stuff was color, and some of it was padding, some of it was stuff I'd written early on intending to use later but hadn't gotten back to. Snipping loose ends or tying them off better kind of work. I call myself writing. But I'm not getting much actual writing done. I can't call it editing yet because this is supposed to be a rewrite. I've never done a rewrite before though, certainly not on something so expansive. 

So, I call myself writing without getting anything actually written. I think I need to stop talking about writing, stop fiddling with the damned thing and FINISH it and THEN I can fiddle with it and proof it and edit it. Until then I'm just putting off the writing... like I am now by writing this.
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