This week has been extremely difficult, writing-wise. Feeling I am so close to the brink of really nailing Castle 8 rewrites in a way that I think will shine through with my original vision, and yet feeling so inadequate in making it actually happen.
Also, I am tired. Though most of my jobs have stopped for the summer, they’ve only been replaced with summer employment (bills must be paid in June and July, after all), which means now instead of having three jobs, I have FOUR.
But that’s not the real reason for my fatigue, believe or not. Most of my weariness has stemmed from my writing, which – up to this point – I would have told you was pretty much impossible.
I had coffeehouse meetings with four different writers this week, and I detected the same fatigue in two of those four writers. At a couple times the conversation actually lagged as we just stared at each other wearily across the polished wood table, wondering what to say next.
The meetings were entirely worth it, of course – they always are. But the truth of the thing was underscored for me: the Writing Honeymoon is officially over. For me and, I think, a couple of my writer friends.
The more strained of those two bah-humbug meetings happened this afternoon; or at least, that’s how the meeting started. Fortunately, we did not give up on our writing talk, or the writing date, either. We stuck around another hour after the collective depression over our projects set in, and bought another cup of coffee. And talked some more. Compared more notes. Asked more open-ended-you-couldn’t-possibly-answer-this questions.
Eventually, remarkably, a “eureka” moment came – not for me, but for my friend. By the end of the session, her enthusiasm had penetrated my funk. I wasn’t feeling nearly so down, but I was still feeling tired. But the kind of tired that keeps on writing.
In exchange, my friend gave me something hard to think about concerning Castle 8. So hard that it took me all evening wrestling with it to admit that she was right: One of my major characters had to go.
Nor was she the first one to point it out. Two other beta-readers whose opinion I value highly had said the same thing. I’ve spent the last six months trying to argue them down, explain to them how that was dead wrong. My character was witty, charming, great with a comeback, handsome, a lover of music and poetry, and a redhead goshdarnit!! So of course he’s necessary!
But wit and beauty and a love of beautiful things does not a necessary character make. I sat down and considered the hard question: What would this story look like without my pet character?
The hard-to-swallow answer: A lot tighter. Much more driven. Less prone to wandering. It eliminates several plot detours. Action goes up. WAY up. Nostalgic detours drop to zilch.
Ugly truth: I eliminate my pet, and my manuscript reaps amazing benefits. In all quadrants.
I admit I cried, a little. That’s a definite a first for me. I always thought stories about writers who cried over their characters were nutzo. Now I’m one of the lunatics, I guess.
This will take a few days at least for me to get over. Won’t lie about that. But after an hour of eliminating The Pet from my narrative – only an hour; he was in woefully few parts once I sat down and really looked at it – I have to admit that my narrative is already healthier, in many ways.
But you’ll forgive me, I trust, if I drown my sorrows in a couple days of raging jigpunk music. Or frozen yogurt. Or maybe a good book that will remind me that I am not the first writer to realize that the Writing Honeymoon was over…..and write through it anyway.