Musings on Writing

"Write Drunk; edit sober."Tomorrow is my big day and my massive four day weekend is half over.  Today, I hope to spend a good amount of time doing some writing, as that’s the other reason that I decided to take these two days off.  Originally, I had hoped to have the first draft of my novel completed by June.  Well, that didn’t happen.  So I decided I wanted a couple extra days to put in some more work.

Granted, I don’t think that a couple days are going to get me back on track.  I’m looking at where I am and where I want to go and I realize that I have a long way to go.  Of course, I’m also realizing that a lot of what I’m writing will probably get cut.  It’s that, or have a book that rivals “War and Peace1” in terms of length.  And I have no delusions that I’m the next Tolstoy.

I’ve considered jumping ahead in the story, but have decided against it.  I figure I’d rather write everything out and then cut 90% of it.  After all, the more I have written, I figure the more I have to choose from in figuring out what’s the best, most compelling and most relevant 10% to keep.

Plus my choice to write everything out is an act of rebellion against my inner critic and my attempt to keep him reigned in.  Ever since I figured out that Ernest Hemingway2 was right (see the attached image) was on to something, the inner critic has been fairly well behaved.  I figure if I start trying to mentally edit out stuff and only write what I think might make the final cut now, I’ll jinx that.

In closing, I’d like to share a recent excerpt from the chapter I’m currently working on.

“Well, watching you get your sex on and actually enjoy some intimacy has been kind of fun, to be honest,” Ted said. “As for being obsessed, I think you were much more obsessed when you were single. If anything, it seems like dating Nate has made you find a new interest in life in general.”

I considered that. “Yeah, I guess you’re right. I mean, I have the stuff going on with the youth, though that has more to do with Steve getting me involved than dating Nate. Plus there’s the possibility of me taking some classes. Which again is really about work and not my love life.”

“But haven’t you told me you’ve been doing a lot more drawing in your spare time, too?”

“Well, yeah. I figure I need something to do on the evenings when I’m not hanging out with Nate or working with the teens.”

“What did you used to do with your evenings?”

“Honestly? Watched television and surfed the Internet while wishing I’d meet someone special.” I cringed as I said it. “Wow, that sounds pretty sad, doesn’t it?”

“It sounds like someone who was depressed, if you really want to know my opinion.”

“Yeah, I guess you’re right. So why didn’t you say anything.”

Ted placed a hand on my shoulder. “Curt? I tried. Why do you think I kept telling you that you needed to get out and meet people? I even suggested you talk to a professional a couple times.”

“And I brushed the idea off,” I said smiling ruefully. “Sorry about that.”

“Don’t apologize to me, guy. Your choices to stay secluded and sad didn’t affect me. Well, other than being sad to see a great friend do that to himself.”

“So, do you still think I should talk to someone?”

“Ultimately, only you can make that call.”

“But don’t you have an opinion?” I pressed.

Ted considered long and hard. “After Zach died, I spent some time in therapy. Mostly for grief, though we did cover a few other things. After my experience, I admit that I’m one of those people who thinks anyone can probably benefit from a few conversations with a therapist they can trust and open up to.”

“So that’s a yes?”

“Sort of. But at the same time, I’m not as worried about you right now as I used to be. I see you turning yourself around right now. You’re much more cheerful. You’re looking forward to working with your church’s teens. You’re doing things you love. And you even seem to be starting to set some boundaries with people like Tina. Plus it sounds like you might be starting to express your needs with Nate.”

“So that’s a no?” I asked. I was getting confused.

“I’m saying that it really is entirely up to you. Though can I ask you something?”

“Sure,” I said hesitantly.

“Okay. Let me first say that I think you and Nate make a cute couple and that I hope that you stay together for a long time, even all of your lives. However, just hypothetically suppose that the two of you break up for some reason. Do you think you’d still do all the other stuff you’re doing now and do them so enthusiastically? Or do you think you’d revert back to your sad, isolated self?”

“You don’t ask easy questions, do you?”

“No, I don’t. That’s why I don’t actually expect you to answer it, and certainly not right this minute. I’m just asking you to think about it carefully.”

I nodded. “I will. I promise.”

1Interestingly, according to Wikipedia, there are several other novels that are larger than Tolstoy’s book.

2Interestingly, I found this really cool post exploring that Hemingway quote while searching for an image containing it.

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