I wrote the ending to my novel. For the second time. And for the second time, it was anti-climactic. I typed in the last words, re-read the last paragraph I wrote, hit command-S, sighed, and closed my computer. And I went down to the galley and started to make dinner. It wasn’t until half an hour later when Hans came home that I realized I had finished my latest round of edits.
You’d think that when you finish editing a large piece of work that you’d feel satisfied, accomplished, proud. Nope. Not me. Not with this manuscript. I think because I know that it’s not really finished. I’ll read it through from start to finish again, find more changes to make, make the changes, pass it over to a reader, the reader will propose more changes. And I’ll make those changes. Again.
When do you know when your manuscript is finished? Will I see fireworks? Will a the lights flash? Will the 1812 Overture suddenly start playing? And if none of those things happen, when do I say: “it’s finished.”?
(As I write this, I know it’s not finished. I just remembered a small plot detail I need to add to chapter 3. Will that ever end? Or will I wake up in the middle of the night five years from now with the brilliant idea that I need to add a dagger to the green room with Colonel Mustard?)
I’ve never been that interested in video games. Usually, I only care about them when I can’t play them–like when my brother got a Nintendo when we were kids. He bought it with his own money and could therefore control who got to play when. (Pretty much he could play it, whenever he wanted. My sister and I could play it maybe once a month for 30 minutes.)
Video games also become very interesting when I shouldn’t play them. I got addicted to Civilization for a couple months and I played tetris with great devotion while I was procrastinating writing those term papers in college. That is basically my video game history.
Until now. Now I feel it is my moral duty to save the sheep. Hans downloaded a simple little arcade game called “Madness” onto his ipod Touch. I am addicted. And I keep thinking I’ll grow out of this addiction, but I haven’t. At least not yet. I’ve been playing for at least two months now, and I have to get in at least one game a night. I know it’s getting bad when Hans told me the other night that I can’t get mad or frustrated at the video game.
I have a bag of knitting sitting at my feet. A stack of library books on the coffee table. A number of sewing projects in my mind. Yet I spend an hour or so each evening saving the sheep. (From the aliens, of course.) Luckily for me (and for the progress of my novel), Hans brings his Touch to school every day so the sheep can’t distract me from real work.
If Hans didn’t use his ipod Touch for school, I would be really tempted to toss it overboard. Instead, I need to get a grip. Get some self-control. I hate video games. Really, I do.
My novel has two main characters that serve two distinct and necessary purposes in the plot. One is a platonic friend to my main character; the other is a romantic interest. But after reading the bulk of the manuscript, my husband suggested I merge the two characters. I can’t do that! They are two different people! Obviously my character development is lacking. Good. I have an easily identifiable problem. But how do I tackle it? It seems daunting, to say the least.
During my sleepless night (ice knocking on the hull, baby knocking on my stomach), I visualized my two characters. I visualized two actors playing the roles of the characters in a movie. I watched them come to life. Of course I remember doing this, but since I was half asleep (and grumpy from lack of sleep), I don’t really remember what I imagined. But, daydreaming! What a great tool. I’m hoping I can daydream my way from 1 + 1 = 1 to 1 + 1 = 2.
2 names. 2 characters. 2 roles.
My long weekend is over and it’s time to get started again. Time to turn the gears in my head and get back to writing. I’m not ready to look at my manuscript yet so what do I do in the meantime? How do I keep my creativity flowing? …Think about the novel without thinking about it? …Stay involved? …Stay focused?
- research agents, publishing options
- spend a few hours each day on a new creative writing exercise
- Swedish lessons (which I have neglected in the past few weeks)
- read new submissions on Authonomy
- brainstorm ideas for magazine articles
- read (how-to books, magazines, novels
I’m feeling stuck with my novel, but I can’t let my creativity stagnate. It is something you need to feed, exercise, and nurture. Like most everything with this process, this is all new to me. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated.