After proudly announcing yesterday that time spent conceptualizing was just as important as time spent typing, I sat down today–after a full week of thinking–and found myself unable to write the stuff I thought I was going to write. It just didn’t work. Every word of it felt wrong.
The keyboard is great at detecting bullshit. Anything might be able to work in your head, but when you start to write it, you see how unworkable it really is. Some people hate this. They wonder why they can’t get their vision out on paper. I prefer to think of it the opposite way. Our attempts to write things down are what reveal how meager our vision was.
Anyway, I spent a few hours toodling around and finally made a start. This YA novel is going to be even more romancey than the one I just turned in (which was pretty romancey). In fact, it’s gonna do that thing I normally hate where there both the male and female characters are viewpoint chars. Of course, I’m writing my story in third person past, so I won’t have the problem where the two first-person narrators sound exactly alike.
Trying to write the male protagonist, I realized I hadn’t really gotten to the core of him. I just hadn’t yet captured the heart of his longing. It’s a mystical thing, the heart of longing. I’ve written a lot about it, and I think deservedly so. Unless you capture the heart of longing, there’s simply no point in writing a book. Or a story. Or writing a song. Or doing anything artistic, really. It’s all about the heart of longing.
With this guy, I didn’t have that yet. I had the longing. I knew what he wanted. But I hadn’t drilled down into the heart of it yet.
Except now I have. Or at least I hope I have. We’ll see!
I do feel a little more easy-going about this book (which I’m sure will be a short-lived feeling). With the last book, it changed so much after the first draft. I did a compare and contrast and found that virtually every word is different. The first and final drafts are recognizably related, but only in the way that apes and human beings are recognizably related. With that example, I feel a lot more comfortable making mistakes.
Enter Title Here wasn’t like that, by the way. A huge portion of the first draft (maybe 40-50%) actually made it into the final draft. And, more importantly, the basic bones of the story were all there in the first draft. I honestly think the first draft could’ve been shopped around and sold. Which was great at the time, but it made it difficult to write another book, because I kept waiting for magic to happen, and for it all to come out perfectly.