I’VE BEEN HERE BEFORE AND THE WRITING AND I SURVIVED
I’m digging out some of my unfinished blog posts – to either finish or delete – and I find this one which is entirely appropriate, because I’m basically at the same place, but in LIMBO, not NETHERWORLD, and the Chapter is 41, not 26.
And, of course, the date is Mon., May 29 – 2023 – and Memorial Day.
Must add: I ended up quite pleased with Chapter 26!
March 19, 2018 at 1:52 PM
I have been mentally putting off getting started on Chapter 26 for plenty of good reasons having to do with time, selling the house, giving stuff away, health (the Valsartan [heart drug I couldn’t tolerate] loss of ten days crippled me), worry…
And one bad reason: I’m scared of it.
Friday August 16, 2019 at 2:33 PM
Finished. Cut out a bunch of words. Left it cleaner.
Andrew is back to thinking only about himself as he heads back toward his rooms. Considered professional, and personal by implication. His way – fast easy travel at the drop of a hat implied – is contrasted with what he knows about her ability to travel. It is quite clear for the reader.
I have a bunch of time: this is the end of the chapter.
How can I best use the state of being more or less awake.
Unfortunately, I’m also hungry.
But Chapter 26 is over – down to She’ll be fine ’til I get back.
Which is my foreshadowing.
Saved time by not running scenes through AC as I finished them because, in all honesty, I didn’t think my brain capable of the fine decisions AND I was worried about the chapter as a whole still being in my ‘voice’ and the characters’ voices and my style…
Then the editing went stupendously well – I’m getting better at correcting a couple faults I have as a writer, from the very beginning – and it took less than a day to get the whole chapter – around 11,500 words, not untypical for me – edited, polished, and proofread.
Be wary of accepting help from bots/algorithms/autocorrect
The rest of the original 2018 post is toast, because I accepted WordPress’ offer to turn the original Classic format into the current Blocks format – and it took all the statistics I quoted, from AutoCrit, and me writing Chapter 26 – and turned them into some kind of weird ‘Your Statistics’ in the block format because it recognized some patterns (such as the word ‘statistics’) and MISREAD them, and now won’t let me go back to the previous version.
I will have to delete all of them from here to the bottom.
Basically, the statistics from AutoCrit (which they no longer provide) said I had analyzed over 4 MILLION words up to that point in my use of AC: “On average, each scene went through Autocrit (online editing software) and my process about ten times after I finished writing it. I constantly edit and rewrite as I go, so this isn’t unusual for me either.”
So why bother quoting statistics from 2018?
Because, due to 1) publishing NETHERWORLD (which took until September 2022), and then 2) the aftereffects of two major problems, surgery and a big tax/paperwork project, I haven’t finished a Chapter in the new book, LIMBO, yet.
I HAVE written the first scene (which will not be shared for a while because I don’t have the whole of Book 3 organized the way I need to, and the scene MAY be missing a few key pieces), so I can’t move on yet.
And it was over a YEAR since writing the last scene in NETHERWORLD (March 2022?) and getting to the first scene in LIMBO, and I would rather not dwell on that year!
But the PATTERN – much time may go by between writing one scene and the next – is not unfamiliar for me, so it doesn’t alarm me, and I just get to work as soon as I have a usable brain and the ability to put that time to my preferred use, writing fiction.
To be clear: I’m not HAPPY about this way of writing, but it happens, doesn’t freak me out TOO much, and I’m like a police dog which has acquired a scent: I go right back to following it.
My style of writing, my ‘process’, copes fine with the breaks
Because I do everything in writing, using the many Journals and Scrivener files to keep track of minutiae (if I do anything remotely new or different, I start and date a new file in the appropriate Scrivener folder), EVERYTHING is there when I need to reload my brain.
I don’t even try to remember what I need (will, spontaneously, sometimes, but I don’t RELY on it), but I KNOW I wrote it down somewhere.
It wouldn’t work if I were writing many or shorter books; but for my complex novel trilogy about Andrew, Kary, and Bianca – characters who love and work in the movie/writer universe – this kind of compulsive tracking of details has come in handy time and again, rescuing me from having to remember any more than vague concepts, and leading me to where I can reload the pieces I currently need with relative efficiency.
I thought the organization of LIMBO was more complete
But now that I’m finally going through the spreadsheets I created in Excel and the reports from Dramatica, I find that I did NOT really finish it.
Not surprising: when I spent those three weeks at LaSalle as chaperone for our teenage homeschooling chemistry interns in 2007 (?), I was still working on PURGATORY!
Back then, I did the fully-fleshed encoded storyform for Book 1, and did a great deal with the enrobing of Book 2, somewhat less for Book 3.
When, years later, I had finished and published PURGATORY (Oct. – Dec. 2015), and plunged into writing NETHERWORLD, I found myself at the same stage I’m at now for LIMBO, where I hadn’t done as much work on NETHERWORLD as I thought I had, and it was NOT ready to ‘just write’. It took several months to get it to that state.
Well, it turns out that LIMBO is pretty skimpily encoded. I can’t write it from this state – because I don’t have each individual scene and its requirements planned.
So, after another year+ of not writing, I have to go back to planning and organizing, which means RE-READING most of the notes I wrote myself in 2016 as I put Book 2 through its paces. And finding that they help – a lot – except that the final details of the end of the whole trilogy are sketched in much less than I thought they were, so I’m having to repeat the whole process, AND the third book is actually a leveling up of a bunch of concepts, rather than a duplication of the same concepts from the previous two books.
Complicated enough yet?
All this means is that I have work to do.
With all my written notes, I can figure out what the work is, and have a scaffolding for escalating the parts of the structure that will need it.
I THINK I’ve learned enough now that this part of the process won’t take me months this time. It is OBVIOUS where I’m going with it, and I know what it needs to produce, the list of scenes with every important detail assigned to the appropriate one of them.
The auxiliary files – spreadsheets and calendar – will take a bit of time, but I know how much it helps to have them, and have models from Books 1 & 2.
YESTERDAY the pre-learning tantrum occurred
If you haven’t heard the concept, it comes from Dr. Karen Pryor’s Don’t shoot the dog, and expresses the frustration at a key point in the learning process:
The old ways don’t work, and the new ways don’t make sense. Yet.
My brain HURT, physically, as I struggled to make sense of how to apply my process for the third time, BUT to a more complicated book.
But YESTERDAY I had a brain for a while, a stubborn one, and I didn’t quit, didn’t put it off, didn’t flee at the pain, but broke it down into the tiniest of steps.
And voilà! We broke through.
I figured out what the heck I was doing (and for a bonus, WHY it was giving me such a hard time), and calmly took the first tiny step – in this case, assigning the major plot steps to the list of chapters and scenes. Starting from those fragmentary bits from 2007, I started putting up the scaffolding and bolting it into place.
So that today, when I ran into the first wall, I recognized it and started the process of getting over it. WITHOUT freaking out.
I think I’m okay now. The tantrum was painful, but it is already receding, another one conquered by method and patience.
There are plenty of missing bits, so I have plenty of WORK to do, but I also have the memory that twice before, when the blueprint was finished I could move on to the construction phase, and I am actually EAGER to tackle the project.
Then go back and revise 41.1 (LIMBO’s first chapter’s first scene if you count from the beginning of PURGATORY, 1.1 if you start numbering in LIMBO) IF necessary, and then confidently grab the next one and write IT, over and over until the words are out.
Even though there are always MORE walls.
Maybe this time it will be done in fewer years.
Is this elaborate process worth it to me?
Yes, because, with my damaged brain, I can’t write anything with any level of complexity otherwise.
And also yes, because, once the rigging is finished and I start raising sails, we fly over the water (okay, I’m slow at that, too), and I have hopes of finishing a book.
And this one IS the biggie, the third one which tests/proves the rule, the solution/end/completion to the trilogy – and I can’t wait to read it.
To celebrate, here is the very beginning of LIMBO over at prideschildren.com, the tiny prologue/Prothalamion which is the continuation of the New Yorker article that is the frame around the trilogy, purportedly written by someone interested in ‘telling’ The Great American Love Story, years after and with all the missing pieces.
And readers of the whole will enjoy knowing a LOT more than that journalist – and knowing which pieces in that article are truth.