Tuesday, March 1, 2011

March 1st

I am so tired today.

I finished that whole section of the story yesterday and sent it to my friend, who has conveniently returned from a soul stirring trip to Spain, just in time to read it. Thank God. I was beginning to perish.

As soon as I sent it off to her, I re read it, with much trepidition. Immediately I could see it with greater clarity.

I tell you what, when writing a story, I just can't see it. I can't see how the words are capturing what I have living, wordless, in my head, because the two parts, the living story and the words, are all tangled up, joined. Eventually, it builds up this huge weight and to plow forward in the story feels just like that; pushing forward against more and more resistance.

But when I have sent it out to someone else to read, I'm blissfully and sometimes painfully, severed from the story. I get to see the words clearly and can evaluate how well I did in capturing it that way.

When I re read it, I'll tell you straight up, I knew it was the best thing I've ever done. Period. The best ever. I was stunned, to tell you the truth.

Apart from spelling the word curtsy about four different ways all through the story (sigh), changing my mind half way through about whether or not to have a bride price or a dowry and not remembering to go back and make it all congruent, and starting to build up to a scene that I just plain forgot about later, about from those things, the whole thing was amazing to me.

It's not as good as other published authors, I've a way to go yet. But in personal terms, everything that I've tried to do before as a writer, and fell short, in this, I got as close as I've ever come. Everything that I love, everything, as Tolkien says, that I have greatly desired, is captured in the story. But, before, I captured it in a very two dimensional way, like a beautiful stained glass picture.

But this is alive. Or as close to alive as I've ever come. I was able to put a great deal of what I've learned as a woman, as a person, into my characters.

Thank God I stopped selling myself short and starting just writing. It's never been so clear to me. If a person decides that their goal will end in failure, then it will. It's that simple. They will end in failure, because they've killed any chance at trying for success. If they won't try, then they won't learn what they need to in order to succeed eventually.

But if a person takes a chance on success, eventually they will taste some. They must, because if they keep trying, then they'll keep learning. You can't guarantee success, but you can guarantee failure.

After I went back and made those changes to my story, and wrote out a couple more scenes that I realized I needed, and added more detail to a few others, I then sketched out the ending of part one. Then I sat back and was exhausted.

I'm still exhausted. I spent the rest of the afternoon watching Star Wars: The Clone Wars. I'm dreading the next section of the story. I don't want to write about self loathing and guilt and shame and depression and I'm afraid I won't get the right balance and it'll make the whole story drag down terribly.

I also can't figure out the right beginning. I have changed the first five paragraphs of the story about a million and one times. The first sentence is of paramount importance. Consider these:

"Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again."
Rebecca, by Daphne Du Maurier

"They said later that he rode into the village on a horse the color of buttermilk, but I saw him walk out of the wood."
Winter Rose, by Patricia McKillip

"It wasn't as if he hadn't been warned."
Sackett, by Louis L'Amour

"Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice."
One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

"When the lights went off the accompianist kissed her."
Bel Canto, by Ann Patchett

"I met him in the street called Straight."
The Gabriel Hounds, by Mary Stewart.

It makes you want to keep reading, right? Met who? What's Manderley? Firing squad? Who walked out of the wood?

So last night, I'm wrestling with this and my mundane first sentence ("Through the shadows of late fall, a peasant girl hurried home, a bundle of firewood humped on her back.") and I just couldn't figure out how the crap to redo it, unless I cut way back into the story and then use flash back to go back to the beginning, but that's so much freakin' work.

Then bang! it comes to me.

"If she had known, she never would have taken it."

Much better, right? I'm going with that for now. Ok, no more procrastinating.