A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned I was getting a new proof of my in-progress novel, due to the changes and other work I had done on the manuscript during December and January. I was looking forward to receiving it. I wanted to see how the color change to the cover worked out, but more importantly, I wanted to read those troublesome scenes I had worked on and slayed.
When I received the proof, the cover wasn’t exactly as I’d hoped, but the corrections I need to make are simple. The manuscript, however, was a disappointment. It’s a curious thing; two sections I believed I had made great strides in, turned out to be awful. Another portion was about what I thought it would be; not great, but not terrible, it would need some fine tuning. The last thing I worked on ended up reading the best, surprise, surprise. Go figure.
The real tragedy in all this, though, is that I have developed an intense loathing for the work. I despise it. The sub-par drivel I read smothered all creativity and interest in writing anything at all. I tried to focus on a different story. I thought about it for a day or two, it’s an interesting little tale, but my interest waned the minute I tried to do any kind of work on it, no matter how simple.
My inner critic is a harsh, blunt, bitch who pulls no punches. Hack is a favorite taunt, which always puts me in mind of Sade’s advice that those “who wish to write but have no aptitude for it would be better off making shoes for ladies and boots for men.” Hello, I’m considering becoming a cobbler. The quote, by the way, was part of a scathing rebuttal to a critic, whom Sade deemed a hack.
With a lack of enthusiasm, I turned my attention to another project, one in need of extensive work. The plan was to gut about 80%, rewrite most of what remained, and come up with fresh material. I started a new document, copying and pasting certain chapters from the original draft, nothing more than busy work, really. I ended up transferring more chapters than I thought were salvageable, as well as new notes I had typed up several months back. In all, a little over 98,000 words. Of course, a lot needs to be deleted or changed, but looking over those notes, I felt that sliver of excitement again.
I’m a slow writer, I work when I can, but that means living with a project for a very long time. For me, the adage ‘familiarity breeds contempt’ applies to my situation. As much as I may love a work, I need to step back once in a while. In some ways, it’s like family on major holidays; you enjoy spending time with them, for the most part, but it’s exhausting, and you can’t wait to get the hell away from them and hang out with other people.