Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Crossroads

Today I’m thinking writing a novel is like solving a Rubix cube. It seems like every time I change one little thing, it affects the rest of the work, like just when you'd have one whole side all red, but then try to line up the yellow and mess it all up.

I’m at what feels like a crossroads with the novel. One of my major characters and plot points isn’t working very well. I’ve added detail, subtracted detail. I’ve examined it closely, given it time to breathe, come back to it, and still, it isn’t right. Which makes me think that maybe it doesn’t belong in the book. And it’s getting hard to move forward until I make a decision about it, but I’m scared to make a decision because of the affect that decision will have on the rest of the book. What if I choose wrong? What if in six months I think, oh, I need that character to be a major part of the plot again? What if it means rewriting the rest of the book? Or even just big chunks of it?

Ai yai ai. I guess in the end, writing a novel is a giant act of faith, and all I can do is make a decision based on what I think right now, or put off a decision until I feel some clarity. I think it would help to pan back, look at the big picture of the book again, and think about how this character or story line fits into the main plot, what it adds (if anything), if it feels necessary to the story. Too much of that kind of thinking about the book can paralyze me. I can get overwhelmed by looking at the overall work, by thinking too big. But maybe if I do it just today and maybe a little tomorrow, then put it aside for a few days, maybe that will help. Maybe I'll try asking for some clarity. It's amazing how sometimes if I just ask for something I receive it.

So maybe, like with the Rubix cube, where you often have to wreck one side that looks perfect to achieve your ultimate goal, maybe here I have to wreck something that I thought was good to get closer to my goal of telling Laura Gallagher's story in a compelling way. I can't include everything about her entire life, not in 300 odd pages. Choices have to be made. Is it possible the novel is teaching me about decisiveness too? Even if I'm afraid of what's around the corner, won't I learn from it either way? Isn't that what matters?

10 comments:

Cecily said...

and that, right there, is why I write non-fiction. :)

But a great post about the process.

sulu-design said...

So when your novel is published, are you going to publish a book of these blog essays? 'Cause they're brilliant.

Historical Geek said...

The most important idea I will take away from this blog entry is the importance of faith.

liquidambar said...

"... every time I change one little thing, it affects the rest of the work ..." That's a good sign. It means the work is tightly woven. If something can be changed without affecting anything else, it may not belong.

One great thing about writing is that you can try things one way, then try them another. With computers, we can easily save different versions of the story.

"What if I choose wrong? What if in six months I think, oh, I need that character to be a major part of the plot again? What if it means rewriting the rest of the book?"
That may happen. It happens all the time to me. But somehow, it's not wasted time. Even if I write 1000 words on Monday and delete them all on Tuesday, Monday wasn't a wasted day. I can't articulate exactly why, but it's not a waste.

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