Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Words Like Dead, Dry Leaves

I'm back at home after a relaxing long weekend. I even got to do one of my favorite things: stand on the back porch and watch a storm blow in. It started with a sunny day, and soon the wind was howling around and dark clouds were rushing at us, and then the temperature dropped suddenly. Very cool. I stood on the very edge of the porch, facing the wind, and let the wind whip my hair around. It was kind of like the Generic Epic Fantasy Book Cover, circa 80s-early 90s, where the hero/heroine stood dramatically on some craggy tor, hair blowing in the wind, while dark clouds swirled dramatically overhead in a way that was either an Omen of Impending Evil or a sign of Evil Magic at Work. All I needed was a sword to raise over my head, though with the Swirling Clouds of Potential Evil, that doesn't sound like such a smart thing to do, and you might not want to stand high on a craggy tor with Swirling Clouds of Potential Evil while wearing armor. Unless there's no lightning involved in the Swirling Clouds of Potential Evil. Or maybe the Magical Specialness is activated by lightning strike and the hero means to turn himself into a human lightning rod.

Hmmm, plot bunny ...

There's not a good similar place to do the storm watching at home, other than maybe the balcony off my office, but then that's elevated, which doesn't seem quite as safe (besides being visible from a major street). And storms don't seem to roll in here the way they do at my parents' house.

But now I really have to settle down and get to work. I've realized that I've been suffering from Fear of Failure procrastination because the very act of writing feels kind of like failure. In my head, this story is absolutely wonderful. It's atmospheric, transcendent, meaningful, clever and richly layered. Then I start to write it and it turns into just a bunch of words. It's like fairy gold in folklore -- you think you've got a bunch of rich treasures, but then in the light of day it turns into nothing more than dead, dry leaves. When each word you write turns this amazing story into dead, dry leaves, it's really hard to make yourself write. You want to keep that story in your head where it can remain perfect as long as possible.

However, since we don't currently have ports that allow people to plug directly into my brain to experience the story in purest form, I have to translate it into words, and this is just an initial draft. I've had to do a lot of tinkering with chapter one so I can lay a foundation and get the book going in the right direction. I still have a little bit more tinkering to do, and then I plan to buckle down and spend the rest of the week writing enough pages for a proposal. I'll let it rest over the holiday weekend, and then next week I'll do all the polishing and tinkering so I'll have a proposal for when my agent gets back from vacation. I've done most of my errands for the week already, I only have a couple of other work things that I have to do this week, and there's nothing on TV to watch for the rest of the week, which means nothing to discuss, which should limit the time wasters.

I did find Friday that disconnecting from the Internet doesn't limit the time wasting, but even time wasting can be valuable. I started playing iTunes roulette, where I tried to figure out if the song that came up on shuffle could fit in this book's soundtrack and how it might fit, and I came up with some really cool plot twists that raise the stakes in a big way and that flesh out the weak parts in the middle and end of my outline.

On the other hand, those ideas made the story in my head even cooler and more challenging to translate into words. Arrrgggghhh.

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