Aaaaaarrrrrrrrgh

I’m so disgusted with this book I’m writing and this type of book in general. I love reading them but I don’t think I can write them. I was up to 66,000 words a couple months ago and then I get 20k because I didn’t like where it was going. A few days ago I got back up to 66k and realized I again had veered off in a direction that wasn’t going to work so I was going to have to cut some more. Once I cut those scnes I was happy because it only cut about 3k words, not the 6-8k I was thinking it might. But as I was evaluating the whole manuscript I’m still not happy with it.

It seems stupid, and meaningless, and down right garbage. Much of this might just be me being too close to the manuscript. But some of it i suspect it a real crisis in my faith with this manuscript. What I once thought was a good, solid, concept now seems to be hallow and flawed. The first 100 pages or so are solid. I’ve had those vetted by experienced and fresh eyes. The next 100 pages though are a bit sketchier. The couple of times I’ve read them so far they haven’t jumped out at me as being trash, so that’s where I get the idea I might just be sick of the manuscript. But as I try to find a way to end the damn thing, that’s when I start seeing my emperoror has no clothes.

To bring everything to a full, satisfying conclusion, there needs to have been something important everyone was working toward. Currently, that seems to be missing from my manuscript. I guess it’s really all about the stakes. For this type of book the stakes need to be higher than I’m apparently willing, or capable, of going. That’s what makes me think I’m writing the wrong kind of book.

I’ve read plenty of books of the type I like where interesting people just go around doing interesting stuff for a while. I’m really thinking early Elmore Leonard here and other comic crime novelists. Does that make me lazy because I’d rather play more to my strengths? Maybe, on a certain level. But for my first book shouldn’t I play to my strengths so I have the best shot of sucess? Once I get established I can take more risks and stretch myself. Maybe I’m trying to do too much with this book.

The last few months I’ve been toying around with the idea of abandoning this book and starting another that I think more suits my strengths. I’ve hesitated though because who wants to throw away a book when it’s so close to being done? And also, I didn’t want to think I was taking the easy way out. But I’ve been submitting novels now for more than five years and even though I’ve gotten some great feedback and made some great connections, I know I’m running out of chances. And agent will only read something from me so many times before he realizes I don’t really have what it takes. I want to make sure the mext book that goes out with my name on it is the best of what I have to offer.

On his blog, screenwriter John August was talking about this exact thing:

But there’s nothing so dispiriting as finishing a script you know is fundamentally flawed. As a professional writer, you’re sometimes stuck in that situation, forced to implement notes that couldn’t conceivably work (c.f. Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle). But for your own scripts, you should never be printing out 120 pages of ambivalence.

Ever since my first novel, I’ve printed out each manuscript with a certain amount of ambivilance. I’ve never sent out a manuscript I thought was perfect. I was always hoping I’d just find the right editor or agent who would see the potential in the manuscript and sign me up and work with me to get it to that stage. I think the days of editors and agents doing that though are now gone.

Tonight I’ve got the night to myself and I’m going to start my new book. I’ll write it until I either finish it, or get a fresh take on LUCKY TOWN that doesn’t suck. Or maybe I’ll give it all up and find a new way to spend my blood.

**Update**

It’s now Midnight and I took a deep breath and went to Borders for a while and went to see “Cloverfield” to clear my head. I’m looking back into this book and all might not be lost. I’m jotting down some notes in a Word file to see if I can boil this beast down to it’s elements and figure out how to make it work. It’s not going to work as a murder mystery. At it’s core it’s a story of a couple people trying to atone for past sins, and a couple of people trying to kill them before they can do that. This I think I can work with. Even if I have to cut it back to the original 100 pages, that’s still better than having to start from scratch, right? I need to go to sleep.

3 thoughts on “Aaaaaarrrrrrrrgh

  1. I’m about the same point in my novel, minus frustration, lost hair, or anything. Partly stuck, partly lacking the time to muse over it in a thorough manner.

    My suggestions:
    1. Write a list of TWENTY different endings (solutions to the problem/ conflict of the novel.) Really do the full twenty and see where you end up. (Okay, someone else told me about this excercise.)

    2. Put the novel aside and work on something else, short stories or something. This may not be scrapping the current novel, just letting it set. Studies show that putting a problem on “the back burner” is actually a good way to come up with solutions previously eluding one.

    3. Work on a query or hook or something that gets you thinking concretely about what the book is, what it’s about, the conflict, the pitch, etc. If you don’t know, brainstorm the answers (see #1)

    4. Slam off an ending, any old ending, then let it sit. Maybe you can get fresh vision on the story when you’re not ready to use it for starting a fire. At least it’ll be “done” and you won’t feel like it’s been scrapped most of the way through.

    5. Get someone to critique what you have– VERY CRITICALLY, fangs and claws OUT. That might give you some direction– especially if they have some ideas on what they think will, won’t or should happen.

    Best of luck to you!

Comments are closed.