Dark Days: the ups and downs of writing life
It's Monday again. Another Monday after a weekend where nothing was accomplished. Another Monday that I'm back at work at the day job. Another Monday where I'm feeling like a failure as a writer. Despite all of this, I'm going to blurt out some things in this blog post in hopes of clearing up my head. Buckle up, this might be a wild ride.
Writing is a rollercoaster of emotion. Some days I feel like this (a worthless little word goblin that has no good ideas or ability to create meaningful work) and some days I feel excited and happy and in love with the idea of creating worlds from nothing and telling stories along the way. It's an odd cycle that I think all writers seem to go through. We're up, we're down, we're spinning through the air with no idea of the destination. I know a few people specifically have reached out to me to note these same feelings. This is why I keep this blog as honest as I can, I want others to know that this is something that happens to most creatives. And if you're finding this and you've been thinking about and excited to begin your writing journey, here's a taste of what you might expect.
I'm still struggling with the rewrites of this book. I think I got it n my head at some point that I wanted/expected the rewrites to be perfect. A glorious display of the English language. A masterpiece. The "great American novel".
Spoiler alert: that's not how this works.
To be fair, rewrites should be a polish and spruce up of the first draft. Make it a bit better than it was before. Try and plug some of those plot holes, add some depth to characters, add layers of flesh and detail to the skin of the story. That was my goal going into this draft, but I kept finding myself critiquing the new writing, noticing that it wasn't as good as the original draft. I also spent a lot of time trying to find where original chapters could fit, sliding passages into the new story where I could. Using sentences that I loved in the middle of new scenes. At first, it worked well, and the first few chapter flew by.
Then reality set it.
For the majority of this story, brand new scenes will need to be created. New situations will need to arise. While the base story, the cast, the idea, the theme has been nailed down, the pathway through the story has grown over. The trailhead is clear, the sign warning of the length of the hike (be sure to pack extra water, this trail is not for beginners) is clearly displayed. Ten minutes into the journey, however, tree branches are reaching across the path to grab at me, the underbrush is thick and thorny, catching every movement I make.
So I changed my outlook. Yesterday, in an attempt to do at least something related to writing over the weekend, I moved over all of the 5 chapters I've rewritten into Atticus (the novel writing software I use) and then I deleted the rest of the novel.
Now, to be fair, I have a Word version, and a hardcover copy that I used for editing, so it's not entirely gone. But I needed to clear the space from my mind, and what better way to do that then to clear it from what's in front of me as well.
I think this will help. It allows me to look back through the groundwork that I've laid so far, reassess the situation, and move forward with a new creative outlook. Instead of piecing together bits and bobs of a first draft that needs to go by the wayside, I can work toward the story through a new trail. A better trail.
A YouTube channel I watch does art, albeit the visual kind, but something they say often is that "sometimes, you just have to delete your art" and I think that's a good mantra. It might feel like you've "wasted" so much time doing something just for it to be deleted or erased, but when you're creating, no time is wasted. Every moment you spend writing or drawing or painting or singing or whatever you do to express your creativity is teaching you something. Any progress forward is exactly that. You can't go backwards in this game of creativity, you can only learn and grow.
So that's what I'm attempting. I'm going to sit down tomorrow and restart the writing habit with the mentality that I just need to blaze a new trail to the end of this story. I know the rough plan of how to get there, I just need to make the progress. Sure, this slows down my timeline of things, but in the end, I'd rather it be slow than forgotten.
Wish me luck.