122 Rules by Deek Rhew

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

It's Here

I finished my first manuscript, 122 Rules, last week and started the second, for now it's titled "Jake" and is about one of the characters from 122, the next day. It has been exactly one week and I am 19k words into it. One of the chapters I wrote while working on 122, the rest is all new.

When I have the story formed in my mind it's difficult for my fingers to keep up on the keyboard. Part of 122 was struggle, having to drag the words out of the ground. They came, sometimes kicking and screaming, but they eventually came. Other parts, it was like the content jumped out of the earth forcing its way into existence. Like trying to drink all the water from a garden hose that is turned on full blast. Several sections come to mind, the last 40-50 pages for instance, I felt like I wasn't so much writing as vomiting.

The first part of Jake has been like that. The sonar picture was relatively clear, and the content just flowed. Not to say there weren't still some surprises. I LOVE the surprises, the parts that I don't know are coming until they are down on digital paper. It's the writer's equivalent of the toy prize in the bottom of the box of Cracker Jacks.

But now I have finally reached the part that has been keeping me up at night. Spoiler! My character is headed to the airport. That is where I stopped, for a lack of time this morning and where the sonar image becomes unreadable. So I have the base of the statue--the beginning of the story--and I know what the very top looks like--the end, but I have no idea what's in the middle.

Does my character meet someone at the airport? If so, who? If that were to happen, which I think it most surely does, what happens next? This is the part I don't know.

I remember having similar feelings in the last manuscript and it's kind of a scary place but also an exciting place. Like riding the roller coaster and climbing climbing climbing and you reach that precipice you know is looming in your future. You can't see past the edge and your heart starts fluttering and your stomach lurches in anticipation.

The drop I have been dreading is finally here. What's there to be afraid of?  Well, writer's block for one which is the storyteller's equivalent of the big bad wolf. What if the place where my stories come from doesn't have this section and I'm left with a gap of 60k+ words? That's a pretty damn big hole to fill. It's ominous and may as well be the Grand Canyon if you don't have any idea what to put in it.

So, say there is a story there. My muse knows what happens next, but what if it sucks? I love the first book, what if part two is the equivalent of Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull? One of those well-it-seemed-like-a-good-idea-at-the-time. In some ways that's almost worse than not knowing what happens next.

In case it isn't blatantly obvious, my mind has been spinning on this for days. Weeks really. It started to fret over it even before I finished editing 122. Maybe that's just a symptom of someone who writes prose? Stephen King talks about how he writes every day. EVERY day he puts down 2000 words. Birthdays, Christmas, the 4th of July too. Yes, he's a genius and probably a workaholic, but one thing he mentions in On Writing aside from the fact that he feels it necessary to get his first draft out in three months or less or his characters become stale in his mind, is that the work keeps the doubts away.

So, if my literary hero, my storytelling rockstar, has doubts about his craft, who am I, a newbie to the writing/storytelling world without a formal education in the art and only a vague notion of what I'm doing, to think can get away Scott free?--pun intended. Who exactly do I think I am to have such gall? Shouldn't such a person question their every move and motive?

Yes, and if I let my mind spin too much it does question every word, every sentence, every character and choice. So I try and push it all away, because if there's one thing I have learned in life is that the part of the brain that is "in control", the rational part, the filter, is also the thing that get's in our way of being successful. It is this part that "over-thinks", causes us to move jerkily like a badly programmed robot, and stifles the creative process.

Right now I am trying to exercise those demons by talking about them here and for the rest of the day I am going to try and ignore them.

Tomorrow morning I face the precipice. It's here. Let's see where it takes us.

Carry on.

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