Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Progress vs. Productivity

I've had a horribly unproductive week and weekend, but I'm not fussed about it. I'm making progress. Chapter 3 still isn't stitched together into a coherent whole, though the sections are getting consistently more excellent with each passing edit. Chapter 4 still needs the ending to be written. I've jumped ahead to record an interchange in Chapter 6, and Chapter 5 is mapped out in my head as is much of 7 and 8. Though I barely wrote even a single page this weekend, I made huge progress. The insertion of one simple sentence into Chapter 4 completely solved a huge dilemma I'd been having. And the addition of an extra paragraph in Chapter 2 revolutionizes the readers' early impression of MarLo. Six short sentences give us her academic history, hometown, socioeconomic standing, how she got her distinctive name, and the status of her relationship with both Claire and her own father. And I thought cramming David's entire childhood into one chapter was tough! I'm extremely glad to have found a way to integrate this information into Chapter 2, though, as it had been weighing on me. I just hate the feeling of the writer knowing more than the reader. It feels like a failure to me.

As for the next tandem of chapters, it's just a matter of finding the time to find the words. Or at least finding the energy. This weekend I had plenty of time and didn't take advantage of it because I was basically depleted. I have found that the more I pressure myself to be 'productive' the less actually gets done. I spend too much energy stressing over my expectations for speed and have precious little processing power left over to be creative. So I'm trying out a 'write when its right' philosophy. I now have my Aspire One with me everywhere I go, so I'm going to attempt to write when the words come to me as opposed to blocking out several hours of time in the evenings and on weekends during which I attempt to force myself to output words. The problem with this new philosophy is that I'm not a professional writer. I have to work for a living, and I can't just take a time out to write midday during my best hours when MarLo starts talking into my ear. The best I can do is to jot quick notes and refer to them later when I'm at liberty to channel my characters' voices. To date, I have stacks of notes that I haven't so much as glanced at. It's very frustrating. I certainly hadn't started out with the goal to become a professional writer, but it's fast becoming a sort of dream of mine that aligns so nicely and neatly with my current dream job that it's ridiculous to think it never occurred to me before. One can certainly be a contract book designer and writer of novels at the same time.

But, honestly, dreams are all fine and good (necessary, even) but I have to get some real writing done soon. I am very aware of the law of diminishing returns as I've had two abandoned attempts at writing a novel previously. I've learned from both of those failed projects, but David and Claire's story, I'm determined will not just be another 'learning experience' for me.

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