I got nothin’.

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Guys, I got nothin’ today. (Heh. I typed ‘tosay’ first, and that seems appropriate too.)

I’m tired. I’m stressed. I’m more or less over a head cold that turned me into 100% Zombie Brain over the weekend. It upset me, too, because I’d done 15K or so in 2 days and the 3rd morning I was absolutely empty, couldn’t hold a thought to save my life, much less write fiction, and I thought I’d done it to myself by writing too much. Being actually sick by that evening was a relief, because it meant I wasn’t broken.

But today I’m well, and I’m still avoiding work. That usually means the book’s broken, not me. Realistically, I know what the problem is: the scene as I’m writing it sets up a direct conflict between my two main characters, and that’d be *great*…except I need a whole bunch more scenes before they can actually meet up. I need one more thing to go hugely, significantly wrong so that one character doesn’t just *kill* the other when they show up. And the scene as I’m writing it doesn’t allow for that. It just doesn’t. So I’ve got to throw it away, or find some way to make it work, and realistically, it’ll be thrown away. Unless I can twist the end of it somehow, which…what the scene is doing is good stuff, it just can’t push to this direct confrontation this fast. It needs to be interrupted some…

…*lightbulb*…

Crap. I should’ve written this post six hours ago. It would’ve made me own up to the problem I’m facing and maybe made me come up with this possible solution. God, I hate this part.

And this, see, this really is the real life of a writer. A while ago I was going through something very like this on another book, and came back to crow over having fixed a big problem after, er, literally years of struggling, and someone said, “Wow, I just kind of thought that somebody who did this professionally would just /know/ how to fix problems. Not that you’d have to struggle and work through it and grind away until it finally worked, like I have to do.” This is also why blogs are helpful: whether it’s here or on my personal journal or talking to somebody IRL, actually laying the problem out in so many words and making myself really look at it often shakes something loose in my tiny, tiny brain.

All right. I have to go look at this material again, and see how much more justification for my interruption I need to write in. The beginning of the justification is in place. I might need as little as a couple more sentences to make it work. And if it works, I can finish this chapter. And if it doesn’t, well, I’m going to have to grit my teeth and throw the chapter out. That’d be the third one I’ve dumped this book, some 15K worth of useless words, which is 10% of the book’s projected length. Grr.

So much for having nothing, I guess.

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9 comments to I got nothin’.

  • Wow, Catie. It’s like witnessing an epiphany in real time. Hope the fix works and lets you keep the chapter. I HATE to throw anything away. It just kills me. That’s my blood in those words. My sweat. My time. And now I have to throw them away? Drives me up a wall.

    This is the reality, folks. I still have people say to me sometimes that I’m so lucky to be a writer and not have to deal with a real job. And I nod and smile politely, because the only other choice is to smack them upside the head and scream “Real job?! You don’t think this is a real job?! What the hell do you think I do with my days?!”

    If Catie was on webcam right now it might well seem that she’s just sitting in front of her computer screen staring at words. She might not even be typing. But she’s working her tail off, fighting battles in her mind that the rest of the world can’t possibly understand. That’s writing. It’s hard work. The four of us are all working on projects right now. We’re all at different stages. But it’s not easy for any of us. This isn’t a complaint. I love my work. But it is work. Don’t ever doubt that.

  • Yeah Catie!!!!! You go girl!
    That was fun to watch! Makes me want to write!

    Yesterday I finished the rewrite of a Gwen novel. Not the final rewrite, mind you, just the one I do before I send it to my editor and she sinks claws and fangs into it and rips it to shreds so I can rewrite it so it makes sense. sigh….

    Today I finish a short story for the Role Playing Game based on the Rogue Mage series.

    Then I get back to my current WIP. Catie, you got me going. Thanks!

    And hey, I just heard that you will be guest-staff at South Carolina Writers Workshop Conference this year. That one is totally fun! David and I did it last year, which is where we met.
    Faith

  • Mark Wise

    It’s nice encouraging to know that even professional writers get the mid-story blahs. I hope to keep pushing through and finish my story even when I get hit with those.

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  • Catie said, “And if it doesn’t, well, I’m going to have to grit my teeth and throw the chapter out. ”

    Oh, I hate throwing stuff away. I have a nine-page prologue that I love dearly but cannot use. I tried, but it just doesn’t fit. I put it in a separate file, for someday, because I couldn’t bear to lose it.

  • mikaela

    It might be that I am a stupid newbie, but is it any way you can keep the words you have written, for that important scene later in the book? I mean if your lightbulb doesn’t work of course :)

  • For those keeping track at home, I managed to grind my way through the scene and only had to strike a couple hundred words (sad, because where those words were leading would have been such a *fun* scene, but it would’ve been entirely wrong, too), and it led into a pretty decent chapter end which now gets all the characters into more or less the right positions to be able to finish the book. Now all I need to do is write fifty thousand words of politics against what’s effectively a world war…

    o.O

    -Catie

  • mikaela said:
    It might be that I am a stupid newbie, but is it any way you can keep the words you have written, for that important scene later in the book? I mean if your lightbulb doesn’t work of course

    Mikaela, I save the words into a separate file. Just in case. But honestly, I think I maybe went back to that file one time in all the years.

    Once a story takes a definate turn, the words for the alternate reality have no place in the world I am revealing / creating. So, eyah, I save them. But I seldom use them.
    Faith