Turning off the internal editor can be a challenge. Facing down the blank screen can make me cringe. I always feel better when some words are in the file I pop open.
I have a stretch of time to write today, and I’m doing it. I’m taking a small break right now to cleanse palates between scenes. I just finished a scene that is going to take some serious revision, if it doesn’t get cut. I’m not happy, but I decided to move forward, because again, it’s time to shut up and write.
A lot of writers get hung up on how their prose sounds. If you’re like me, you know you want your prose to come onto the screen pristine, witty, and well-formed. Since I’ve been revising a lot of material, I’m getting some of that. However, I’m into new territory, and once again I’m at the fertilizer stage.
Bob Boston, this awesome screen writing teacher I had in college, taught us about the fertilizer stage. The lecture’s logic was this: All first drafts are shit. But from fertilizer, good things grow. The trick is, you’ve got to spread the fertilizer around first.
Boston was correct. I forget that every time, EVERY TIME I write something new. I’m always comparing myself to the previous finished product, and not the previous product’s origins. I always forget that the previous finished product took several months, maybe even a year or so, to author. My memory is faulty, and I always have to rediscover this. You’d think I’d get it, but there’s a mental block or something.
My hopes for The Winter the Troll Danced with Old Nick is to have it finished by Halloween, out to readers in November, and polished in November and December, in order to start playing agent roulette again in January 2010. To get there, I have to cross this bridge, write at the stinky stage, and then really let my novel develop from the stinky stuff.
My motto, then, must be that even if it’s not working right now, even if I feel like I’m not happy with dialogue or plot direction, it’s time to shut up and write. Because I can revise and make it better, and I do, every single time. Writing a novel is not like watching Aphrodite emerge from the waves, or seeing Athena leap out of Zeus’ headache. It’s more like watching Hephaestus’ beard catching on fire at the forge as his arm swings back for another stroke. And another. And another.
Oookay. Yes, yes. Shut up and write.