Knowing the Difference

My biggest problem writing-wise lately has been, I think, caused by distance.

I’ve gotten too far from the work, the characters, the world that they inhabit. I’m not so immersed in it anymore that I can look at it subjectively.

Which, when you’re writing a novel, is important. Save the objectivity and the rationality for revision; you’ll need scads of them. But when you’re mid-novel, you don’t want to take five steps back and see your premise and your work through your jaded, critical editor’s eyes.

You won’t really like what you see, I promise.

I have this vague notion that somewhere in those pages I made a fatal mistake, took a wrong turn, something. As I tell The Husband, “It turned stupid.”

About this time last week, I was telling myself that this was just mid-novel stage fright, so to speak. The thrill of the beginning had long ago worn off, and I was getting nervous because I love the concept so much and I’m terrified of screwing it up. That’s what everyone on just about any writer’s forum would probably tell me. It’s all in my head, just keep going and you’ll get through it.

“Just keep going,” I told myself. “Plow right through it, ignore that nagging voice, just do it.”

But even as I told myself that, I was overcome with the iron certainty that…I was right. I had screwed it up, and I need to fix it before I can really continue. The problem may be small, or it may not be. It may take twenty minutes or twenty days or twenty weeks (dear dog, I hope not) to fix. And to plow through, without looking back, without acknowledging what I am absolutely certain of, would be stupid. I would only be screwing it up more.

My editor at the paper, during my internship, was always saying, “Follow your instincts.” I sometimes forget this advice as I overthink and overanalyze everything, but I always come back to it.

Sometimes, the wisdom isn’t in taking the right path; sometimes it’s just knowing you’ve taken the wrong one. Sometimes, wisdom is following your brain, but sometimes it’s following your instincts.

Sometimes, wisdom is knowing the difference.

Tomorrow, a little teaser post on what I’m writing, as suggested by Tia on Thursday.

One thought on “Knowing the Difference

  1. I’m on my third book and as I’ve gotten close to the end, I’ve dealt with the same sort of nagging self-doubts each time.

    With my first book, I had the end in mind before I really had the beginning in mind. But it wasn’t big enough and the finished product was entirely too long and unsalvageable.

    With FORGING A LEGEND, I realized that my ending just wasn’t big enough, so I sat and brainstormed something that I really loved. Now, the problem is that my beginning doesn’t quite fit my ending. This is why I’m going to whack off twelve chapters and flesh out the rest for a shorter, tighter novel. I have to come up with a beginning that is worthy of my ending.

    With STARCASTER, I am happier with the original concept and nothing major has changed. However, fleshing out the details now that I am closing in on the end has become a challenge.

    I’ll look forward to your teaser.

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