Sunday, January 29, 2012

Attributing motives is now in the past, and the rest of the MS is action

By my estimation, I've written enough words to fill six volumes of War and Peace. I'll discard more than five of those before I present what's left to the public. That means that one out of every six words I write is shit. That's a .160 batting average in baseball. The only kind of team that keeps a player with that kind of average is one of those youth league teams that doesn't keep score because they don't want to hurt the child's fragile ego. Everyone gets a trophy. Luckily, in writing, batting average doesn't matter.

I left one big motive surprise for the epilogue to help set up the possibility of a book two, if there is one, but other than that, from this point on, I'm pretty confident that the reader knows what drives every primary and just about every secondary character. I've passed the Rubicon in the book, probably three fifths done, and from here on in, it's a chess match and backyard brawl. What's strange is that the easier it gets to put the chapters in chronological order and discard the extraneous crap, the less it feels like writing. These chapters are so structured and fixed in my mind, that any word that doesn't belong sticks out like a fox in the chicken coop.

One thing I've noticed is that, after having thought about this stuff this long, and having played it in my mind this many times, some things become stale, particularly the humor. It's like watching the same movie every day for five years. I might have chuckled at a line the first ten times I wrote or read it, but I'd have to have Alzheimer's to keep laughing at the same thing every day.

The wife and I own hundreds of DVD's. Maybe more than a thousand at this point. One of my favorites is a documentary about the making of The Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd. The Floyd is probably my favorite group, and that's one of my favorite albums. There's a scene in the DVD in which David Gilmore wishes he was just an ordinary person who got to listen to the album from start to finish without having been a part of its creation. The inference being that, the very act of having been involved in its creation, having listened to the component parts and all they discarded, robbed him of getting the full pleasure of the presentation.

I think that's a very profound statement. I really believe that the author's immersion into the creation of a book, robs him of the pleasure of it's proper presentation. There are clearly different pleasures at play, the very act of its creation for one, but the book is like a song or painting. Its natural state is the finished state. The state that's supposed to entertain the reader. I'm amused by my story. If nobody else is amused by it, it wouldn't shock me because I simply have no idea of what to expect. Gone are the early days of writing with the Pulitzer Prize daydreams. I lost those about five years ago. I have no delusions that I'm a Tolkien or Asimov or Tolstoy. As much as the heart wants it to be that unique, that good, the head tells me it's not. But I think I'd like to read it complete for the first time, as if it was written by someone else, just to see how much enjoyment I'd get out of it. 


  1. Finish it and then put it away for a few months and write and finish something else. Then pull it back out and read it. That helps a lot with the reading it as a reader would. It's not the same, for sure, but it does soften the 'I know this novel by heart and I'm so damned sick of it' factor.

  2. Jean's right. We ALL go through this. I can't stand to read my books once they're done. Even when I pick them up months/years later, I cringe, but I am at least able to laugh at some of my lines. The really terrible thing is I can't even remember writing them.