Titan Slain / The Dreaded Hump

24 Aug

So I was going to post a month ago basically saying, “Yeah, the novel’s basically roughed, I just have the handful of scenes to rewrite and like two to write but I basically know what happens” and here I am, sitting at a 162k rough draft, realizing I’m really going to have to reign in the B Plot (again) but acknowledging it’ll be fine. I’m a better writer than I was even ten years ago. This time, though, I’m not touching the manuscript for at least two weeks short of Ron asking for a swap.

I like setting goals but know that life  happens. If I say, “At this rate, I’ll have it revised and workable by Christmas, plus all the other projects I wanna do.” Yeah – no, probably not. Late March/Early April 2019, my sister and I rented my parent’s time share up near Clear Lake, MB, but they had to go back the day I came (Spring Break), and I was by myself for a few days, and I figured I’d do the writer retreat thing and finish editing the rough draft of Magus’ Gambit. I had to go back a day early for union related stuff, but thought I was finished… just a little tweaking, make sure I got the timelines right. I didn’t submit it until the following fall – part of it, granted, was moving and me getting a shiny new kayak.

So realistically – assuming I don’t get thrown into quarantine for a month – if I leave it alone, let R.J. Hore beta the entire thing, then leave it for an additional few months and start editing it after NaNoWriMo, I’ll have a decentish draft by the end of my January holidays, so aiming to have it edited several times by spring is realistic. Still, happy dance about being done a working draft, my reward is focusing on another project and hopefully gaining the mental distance so I can revisit Titan’s Ascent. Finishing a novel feels great. Getting to finishing always kind of sucks, mostly because of what I call:

 

The Dreaded Hump

Know what feels great when you’re writing? Writing “The End”. At least, it would if I wrote in the book’s intended order – quilter over here typically kind of develops an idea for an end goal relatively early in the book’s creation. I typically do leave “The End” for the very end, but know what doesn’t feel great? Those final scenes, especially when you’re not exactly sure what you want to happen. Because I didn’t write them sequentially, these scenes might take place anywhere in the novel.

How is this different than Writer’s Block? I’ve posted before I’ve written myself into a corner, but it’s not the same as The Dreaded Hump. Writer’s Block is more like, you aren’t sure what to do and how to do it. The Dreaded Hump is soldiering through the muck because you know the general direction – but it’s only after the fact that you realized there was a much nicer, cleaner way, and it’s more scenic, you know? Sort of like midway through the novel, where you are kind of meandering and you write a scene, only to go back and change it because you were like ‘meh’ about it or hated it but knew you needed to just write out a version of events, so you can later write the ‘good’ version. Heck, you might even have written some scenes you like, and you realize that given the size and scope of the novel, you can’t dedicate that much time to the idea. Out those fun, impulsive ideas go – in with a more tame version, grumble grumble  – not saying you’re deleting those scenes completely; if you’re me they go in a file folder and will probably to be explored in another project. It’s different than what I’ve been experiencing in the past few months – even if I’m lying to myself about ‘almost being done’ or that I’ll be done by Day X. Gone is the fire and fun of this new and amazing project, as well as the sense of accomplishment of finishing. You know you’re making progress… sort of. The end’s not in sight, but you’ve sunk in enough time and words to know that you might as well at least finish the project.

It’s the hours you spend in the gym, or practicing your instrument. No one sees the real work you put in here.

The segments that make up The Dreaded Hump sometimes might be a great scene – on draft 4 or 5. How it helps to give yourself permission in your busy schedule is to think of it like you’re sketching out the frame work, and you need to fill in the details. It’s fine if you know it’ll work and you can do some hard research to make sure you fill in the blanks. Realizing you made a critical error and it’s a genuine plot hole and you have no idea how to go about fixing it, without majorly changing the book? That’s hard.

Writing garbage shouldn’t be confused with doing research and, if you just want the project to die already, take a break. Philander with another idea. If you are creative in other ways, it might be the time to dip your toes, or see what other artists have done to get around similar situations. For me, I respond to physical activity, so spending some time in nature if I can definitely helps.

But finish it. Unless you’re under contract, there’s really no time limit to any of this. And it sucks, putting your baby into the world and letting it get rejected time and time again, but let me ask you: Would you rather have a finished project to have rejected, or a bunch of half-finished and barely starts?

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