Monday, December 19, 2011

Insecurity, thy name is Nicole

There's now a fair bit of distance between myself and an extremely productive NaNoWriMo.  I clocked in at just over 50,000 words at around the 18th of November, and then I took a bit of a break.  I've been back at it for most of this month, however, and am now up to 77,326, as of today.  My intent is to cut the final product down to about 70-75k words, but I want to just finish it and then start going at it with a scalpel (or a hatchet, as may be the case).

Working toward the finish has made me realize something: I tend to get really insecure about my endings.  I don't know why I never really thought of it before but, as I look back on my writing, I realize that endings always stress me out--maybe even more than beginnings.  On the one hand, things are easier here than they are in the middle, because all of the action is moving along swiftly and the words usually flow.  On the other hand, there's the stress of trying to tie all of the threads together, trying to keep the pacing on an even keel, and trying to write a killer of an ending.  As this book is intended to be the first in a trilogy, I need to have a good hook in place for my ending as I naturally want to interest people in reading the next installment.

Today was kind of rough going because I am back in the mode of worrying.  The closer I get to the ending, the more I stress about the idea that I'm hurrying things along.  I'm not doing this intentionally, of course, but I just can't seem to shake the conviction that my newest chapters somehow feel rushed.  I think this may have something to do with the fact that the story took a much different turn than expected, so I have a lot of balls up in the air and I don't want to drop any of them.  Whatever the cause, today was one of those writing days where I felt like I needed to reach into my brain and forcibly extract the narrative--never a very fun thing.  Whenever this happens, I tend to worry incessantly that the writing sounds stilted or forced and I never, ever want my writing to feel like that.

I'm not sure that someone can understand how all-consuming writing can be unless they also write.  I think about my writing constantly, and I do mean constantly.  I think about it while I'm driving, while I'm grocery shopping, while I'm brushing my teeth.  Sometimes I walk around the house muttering to myself about it, which prompts my two-year-old to say, "What do you say, Mama?"  I'm still not sure how to respond to that one.  "Sorry, kiddo, your mom is a crazy wreck who is obsessing endlessly" seems like it might be just a bit out of his grasp.

But when you are in the midst of writing something, particularly something about which you feel very strongly, you live, breathe, and eat it.  I have to figure out how the plot will unspool, decide what's motivating each characters, dream up scenes, etc.  It's really pretty astonishing how much writing goes on inside my head before anything even hits the paper.

Once I'm finished with this manuscript, I'm going to give Scrivener a try.  I was really pleased to get a discount on it, thanks to my NaNoWriMo completion and, though I've only taken a pretty cursory glance at it, I'm pretty excited about it.  I particularly like the bulletin board feature because it makes me think that I might be able to write a bunch of sticky notes so that I can get the information in a trustier place than my good ol' brain, which has an unfortunate tendency to erase those massively awesome scenes I dreamed up just hours ago.  Maybe once I do that, I'll stop walking around the house talking to myself and worrying my two-year-old, who already seems concerned that I may need extensive psychotherapy.  Maybe, but I kinda doubt it.

***

“Any idea what Javier is up to?” Letizia asked her at lunch.

“Javier?” Dara asked.

Letizia scowled at her.  “The project, Dara.  Do you have any idea what Javier is working on?”
“Oh, that.  Uh, no, I hadn’t really thought to look...”

“Do you know how many mistakes you’ve made?” Letizia asked, and Dara knew her master wasn’t referring simply to her lapses of attention during shift.  “You cannot afford to keep on going like this.  It’s a miracle you’ve made it this far.  You must have more dumb luck than any other person I’ve ever met.”

Face burning, Dara ducked her head so that she wouldn’t have to look at Letizia’s accusing eyes.  “You’re right.  I’m sorry.  I’ll look today.”

“You need to learn how to compartmentalize.”

           She knew Letizia was right.  If she wanted to make it, she was going to have to learn how to lock her emotions in tiny boxes and hide the keys where no one could find them.  In short, she was going to have become a master at dissembling, just like her master.