Good news and bad news, neither of which are much of either.
Bad News: I’ve come to a sticking point in The Novel. At the end of last week, I thought I had painted myself into a corner and could not figure a way out of it.
The Good News: I decided to set aside The Novel and pick up work on seriously revising The Screenplay, which needed doing and I had been avoiding. Over the course of several evenings and a long spell yesterday afternoon, I finished the rough revision work. There is now have a stack of 115 pages or so covered in red ink – cuts, changes, additions, and adjustments – waiting to be put into the computer.
From one perspective, it looks horrible, as it gives confirmation to that little voice in the back of my head that says ‘you aren’t good enough.’ On the other hand, I’ve got 115 pages that are Better Than What I Had. I frequently tell my 13 year old son that sometimes all you can do is make something Better Than It Was (even if only incrementally), and then revisit and rework things again when you have a fresh perspective on things and make that Better .
Over the course of the next week or so, I plan on making the changes to the file on my computer and then printing out several new hard copies. At that point, I have a few trusted friends that I will send it out to for a look. All of them have very different perspectives on the world than mine (and each other), and I hope they will see things that I have missed, or find points that I assume are clear but aren’t to someone that isn’t sitting where I’m sitting. (I do have a few ideas for making more changes, but I want to see if they suggest the same changes I am considering first), and while they are doing that, I will be making another lap through with red pen in hand for typos, spelling, and punctuation errors.
Back to the point indicated by the title of Today’s Post: Sometimes, you can’t get anywhere with something by actually ‘writing.’ You get stuck, you dig yourself a hole, you get to a wall you can’t find a way around. What do you do then? You do some of the dirty work of writing: edit, revise, rewrite, either the current project, or another one in progress or one you are just starting.
In effect, you are taking some time now to do some of the work you’d be doing anyway at some point in the future. The best thing is you can still count those days as ‘writing’ days – days that count for Score. Days you don’t do anything don’t count, but days you are doing the ‘menial’ work you can count. Those days keep you involved, keep your mind active, and keep you moving towards your goal.
Sometimes, there is an Added Bonus. In my case, during the course of the gruntwork, I think I figured out a Solution, one I think will work, or is at least worth trying. Remember, that if you have something on paper, you have something to go back and rework and revise and make Better. If nothing ever makes it to the page, you don’t have that to fall back on when the Muse deserts you, and that ‘perfect’ book in your head is never any closer to real existence.
PS – There are a number of ideas that I will discuss that have come from other sources. This is such an idea. What I have found, and where I think I can provide some insight, is that most of the advice is given by professionals, and sometimes taking advice from professionals isn’t the easiest thing. It looks easy for them, since they’ve been there and done that, and I have found it hard in the past to apply such advice to myself, since I Am Not There Yet. I hope to be able to take some of those nuggets that I have thought would be useful, try them out, and and render some perspective that others down here in the trenches can take advantage of.