I had a lovely walk with JT a week or two ago — a six kilometer round trip to get an apple fritter. I confessed to him that I’d stalled on my Nereid project. “Project” sounds pretty corporate, but I hate to use the word “novel” when I don’t think it’s deserved. Anyway.
I don’t talk about writing with JT much. While he is super supportive, he’s not a writer or a reader (I’ve mentioned his bookshelf before), and he generally chooses not to offer advice on subjects in which he is unfamiliar or inexpert. By the way, this is an admirable rule that more people, including me, should adopt.
In an effort to keep myself accountable, I shared with him my woes.
SE: I haven’t written anything on the Neried project in a month.
JT: Oh? Why not?
SE: (woe #1) I was very disappointed with how the trip to Whistler went. I had a plan to finish the first draft by writing like a possessed thing while you were in class every day, but because I ended up having to work, I probably got less done than if we weren’t away from home. I feel discouraged that I didn’t come close to meeting my ambitious goal.
JT: Yeah, that’s shitty.
SE: (woe #2) It sure is. I’ve also reached one of those stretches where everything seems stupid. I have no idea why I would have chosen to write in this point-of-view, and it’s a mess anyways; my main character is super boring; and I had the bright idea of writing all the “exciting” scenes first to keep me enthused… except it means that now I only have the vaguely plotted in-between stuff to write.
JT: I know you want it to be great, but it seems like you’re being pretty hard on yourself. How many words have you written?
SE: I don’t know. I had to trash at least half of the NaNoWriMo draft just so things make sense. Right now I have like 55,000 words that will be in the complete first draft.
JT: That sounds like a lot.
SE: (woe #3) Yeah maybe, but some parts are just painful to read. So bad. It takes all of my willpower to keep myself from revising, because I don’t want to get stuck in a editing spiral and never actually write anything new.
JT: You just have to finish it. Even if it’s really bad.
SE: I guess but…
JT: I don’t know anything about writing, but if I was doing this, I think I’d want to get the story done, so I could at least look at it and be like “It’s done enough that someone could pick it up and read a whole book – even if it’s shitty and they hate it.” And then I’d maybe put it away for a like a month or something and then try to make it good after. But maybe that’s stupid.
SE: No, that’s not stupid. It’s… very astute. It’s what probably most writers do.
JT: Oh good. So I helped?
Sometimes it’s nice to have JT around to make me face the obvious.