Monday, March 11, 2013

What I think my problem is

Some people can't finish a novel because they're perfectionists.

Well, yeah, that's part of it. I always have to go back and fix things because "that plot is too convenient" or "that character would never do that" or "the beginning is too boring." But I still manage to progress. Gradually, more words are added. New scenes are added. So it's not like perfectionism really gets in the way of moving forward. It just slows it down a bit.

Others can't finish a novel because they're afraid of success.

Why would I be afraid of success? I fantasize about it every day.

Others just lose momentum halfway through. They inspiration and excitement fizzles and dies.

But I'm still in love with this story. I don't want to stop writing it.

And then there are people who are just lazy.

Well, okay, there's definitely that.

But I don't think that's the main reason. Mostly, it's because I never really expected to finish this novel. Sure, I have this great outline and write all these scenes, but the thought that I might actually reach that final chapter is something I can't even imagine. It's overwhelming to think about all the amount of work I have left.

But that amount is becoming smaller and smaller every week. And suddenly, I'm closer than I ever thought possible. Actually, it wouldn't even be right to call it "suddenly." It was last fall, actually. Before I went back to resume my edits, I was maybe ten scenes away from the end. And I still have that part of the draft, waiting in two little notebooks that I keep in my backpack. I'm working my way up to it.

And wouldn't it have been so easy to pick up those notebooks again and just write out those last scenes? To actually have a finished draft? But I decided to go back and edit. Because it still needed a flipping ton of editing. And it's going to need even more after that. I still have unwritten scenes, and parts that need to be figured out (ie, where to incorporate backstory). The draft never felt full enough for an ending. Will it feel full after I write the next handful of scenes? I don't know.

To some people, the final scenes are just that--scenes. They're fun and exciting to write, just like they're fun and exciting to read. But otherwise, they're not any different from the other scenes in the book. You write them, and then you fill in the holes and edit them. Sometimes you even re-write them altogether.

But that's the difference between me and other people--they have finished novels. Sure, some of those novels might be mediocre or even bad, but they're finished. And me? I haven't finished a novel since that Harry Potter fanfiction I wrote when I was thirteen. That was eleven years ago.

Because of that, "The End" has become a sort of writing nirvana that needs to be earned. I can't half-ass my way to those final scenes--it would be like taking an escalator whenever a part of the mountain became too difficult to climb and then telling myself, "I'll come back and climb that part later." No, I can't give myself the exhilaration of reaching the top until I've climbed the entire mountain.

I know that's probably not the smartest way to go about writing--it's so much easier to fill in the holes once you have a completed draft. And that's probably how I'll write future novels. But for now, my mindset is telling me to be patient and earn it.

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