Let’s assume for a few minutes that I’ve gotten past the first hurdle of writing: Writing Every Day. I’m putting pen to paper 5-6 days per week, so we can call that Good Enough for Government Work.
Let’s also assume that the first draft, while Other Than Good, isn’t so horrifyingly bad that Shakespeare himself isn’t turning over in his grave. There is something there that vaguely resembles a story, most clusters of words can be described as meeting the minimum definition of the term ‘sentence.’
So far, so good, right?
In my mind, this is where The Concern raises it’s ugly seven-horned head.
As things sit right now, there is nothing New or Exciting or Ground Breaking in The Novel. I don’t see my Work as Revolutionizing a Genre or Creating a Whole New Paradigm or anything else. Unless I wake up sweating in the middle of the night with some brilliant epiphany bubbling in my brain, this tale isn’t going to mark the birth of the next William Gibson or Phillip K. Dick. I may be merely painting over an old, familiar structure, like so many others have done to Heinlein and Tolkien. You know which books I’m talking about. You’ve read them, just like I have.
So a question needs to be asked: What do I do? Do I concede that I will never be Great and give up? Do I trudge along and knowingly produce a massive, steaming pile of crap fit only for lining birdcages?
Or… or… (and this is the thing that pushes me onward) I can keep working on it and see what happens.
M. Night Shyamalan supposedly didn’t know until his seventh or eighth draft of ‘The Sixth Sense’ that the Bruce Willis character was dead. Like Mr. Shyamalan’s work or not, that movie would have been completely different (and probably sucked) if he didn’t stick it out to see where things went. He wasn’t satisfied with how things were going and he kept working at it.
Maybe my pendulum has swung to the ‘I can’t write’ extreme, that place where you wonder why you bothered trying to create something from nothing. This could be the insecurity (I think) everyone feels at some point (in my case, many points) in the process. That is probably it. The enormous weight of the project bears down and buries you in hopelessness.
With that in mind I shrug off the Demons of Despair and determine to forge onward, in full knowledge that the First Draft will be four hundred pages of non-stop suckage, and promise to fix it in the re-write. Or rewrites.
Eventually I will get where I am going, even if it takes multiple stops, starts, detours, wrong turns, and backtracks to get myself there. And maybe ‘There’ will be standing on a lofty peak alongside the Giants. Maybe it will be at the bottom of the Abyss curled in a fetal position. I will be happy for somewhere in between.
But none of us will know for certain unless we follow the path until we get to the end. So onward, to the end. Come what may, we must see it through.