Thursday, July 17, 2008

Torture Techniques

I had the kind of day yesterday that required lots of deep, cleansing breaths and a generous application of chocolate (Keebler's Grasshoppers, which are basically Thin Mints you can get year-round without being attacked by a Girl Scout, and which are utterly divine straight out of the freezer). Not that it was a bad day, just frustrating in a way that almost made it seem like it was designed specifically to drive me Up. The. Wall. Like if I were a POW and they were designing a torture technique guaranteed to break me, this is what it would be, and that would be against the Geneva Convention, but because it's business, I can't call Amnesty International to protest on my behalf. It didn't help that the dream I had just before I woke up that morning was yet another in my ongoing series of nightmares about having to go back to a corporate job, only in this one, a bunch of friends from various past jobs were all working together at a new place, and they invited me to visit them at work, then it turned out to be an ambush to try to make me take a job there. I woke up while I was still protesting that I didn't need a job and they were trying to convince me that I would only have to come to the office a couple of days a week, so I'd still have time to write. The really odd thing is that I realized upon waking that some of the "friends" in the dream were actually TV characters, which could say something sad about the role television plays in my life, except that the main one I remember was Ianto from Torchwood, and his mannerisms around the office have always reminded me of the department administrative assistant in one of my old jobs, only much, much cuter, so if I'm including that personality in a dream as part of a "This is Your Life" parade of former co-workers, it makes sense for it to be the cute version.

Meanwhile, I may have to stop watching tapes of The Office from last fall because it really is depressing. Even when I remember to forward through the commercials, they often have the little weather brief tease for the late news as the last thing before the end of a commercial break, so to avoid missing part of the episode, I have to hear about low temperatures in the 40s and 50s and cold fronts on the way, which sounds so lovely right now when it's annoyingly hot.

I've seen this post by Libba Bray linked from some book-world blogs, and the metaphor of the process of writing a book being like falling in love is painfully accurate. Except, for me, I find that the first draft is often more like those annoying couples who are always breaking up and getting back together again. You know, the ones who are madly in love and ignore all their friends while they're so wrapped up in each other, and then they have a big fight and suddenly want to gripe about each other to all their friends as they talk about what a jerk the other person is and how it's never going to work, but then the next thing you know, one of them does something wonderful and they realize they did miss each other, and they're back together again and even more mushy than before, and they'll deny having said anything bad about the other person. And then they get mad and one of them will storm out, and they'll swear it's over. And then they get back together again and love each other dearly. Then there's the point where they're really not happy together, but they're more afraid of breaking up and having to find someone else than they are of staying together and being miserable, so they stay together but don't really enjoy themselves and grow to sort of even hate each other in a passive-aggressive way. But then out of the blue something will happen that makes them fall in love all over again.

Yeah, that's me through most of my first drafts. I swing madly back and forth between love and hate, with times when this is the most fun I've ever had and times when I feel like it would be less painful to be writing in my own blood. And there are times when I'm bored out of my skull and know it won't work, but I'm committed, so I have to finish it. But then there are enough moments of pure joy to make it worthwhile. Most of the time, it's not so much the book I hate or am mad at, but rather I'm mad at myself for not being able to do justice to the perfect book that lives in my head.

Fortunately, today is already turning out to be much better on a frustration level, and I may even get something worthwhile accomplished.

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