A Piece of Cake

Piece of green cake

People say that everything in life worth doing is hard. I haven’t figured out if I agree.

I’m sure they’re right. I’m a violinist. I spent 15 years of my life practicing for hours a day before I ever made any money playing. That was hard. Often so hard that I wanted to quit.

I don’t know why I didn’t expect writing my giant book to be as hard as playing violin. I thought, writing comes more naturally, there isn’t a physical aspect, and I have it all planned out in my head. I didn’t think it would be easy, just easier.

I’m starting to think I was wrong to think that.

Starting the story was the easy part. Even getting into the middle. Planning it out, making timelines, editing writing style. All of that has been relatively easy. Some snags and frustrations, but nothing too bad. The only time I’ve gotten thoroughly stuck before was when I had to kill a character I didn’t want to.

Until now. Now, as I edit my way through part 3 to change a few characters, add a few characters, and build up to the ending of the section, I find that those things are really, really hard. I understand my characters better than I did, but not as well as I should. Then there’s the issue of building to the end of the section.

I have ideas fully planned in my head of where this story is going to go. I like the plans. I want to keep them. What I’m realizing I don’t have figured out is how to get there.

There’s a whole made up government system in my story that is important to the plot. When I wrote part 1, I didn’t realize how important it would be, so there’s little in part 1 about it. A lot of things regarding the system come to a head at the end of part 3, and I’m finding it almost impossible to build up to it. As it sits right now, everything happens kind of suddenly, which doesn’t really work.

Thinking it would help, I spent a few hours yesterday writing all of my made up laws into my notebook. Seven pages of detailed laws. It was good for me to get it down on paper to use as a reference, but it didn’t get me any closer to working out how to make the whole thing happen.

I went back into my story into part 3, thinking I could make myself keep editing. Uh, no. Because writing those laws didn’t help the organization and didn’t help the fact that I haven’t set the whole thing up enough. What I’m realizing I need to do is go back to part 1 and work out the whole thing there. Get it right in the introduction so that I know where I’m coming from once I get to part 3. If I know where I’m coming from, maybe then I’ll know where to go.

Going back to work on part 1 AGAIN feels like a step backwards. I know I shouldn’t think of it that way. Part 1 has a lot of problems that need to be fixed, so I should view this as my chance to do that. But this whole time that I’ve been steadily editing my writing style in parts 1-3, I’ve thought I was getting very close to being able to continue with the final part. And now I’m going back. Again.

I’m going to regard this round of editing in a new light. I have a list of things that need to be fixed. I’m going to work on those things while also better explaining the political system and setting up things that happen later, now that I know what happens later. I should think of this as a final polish for my first draft, right? A way to “perfect” part 1 (at least until I think of something else I want to change and go through this whole big mental drama again.)

That is my new plan. Stop doing what I’m doing in part 3 since I’m thoroughly stuck, and instead see what I can do to prepare all of the stuff that needs to happen later. I don’t doubt it’s going to be hard. But it is necessary now, as necessary as going back to edit the first time was. I can’t continue until I know how to proceed. Otherwise I’ll just end up with a big mess on my page, and that will piss me off.

When people say everything in life worth doing is hard, they’re probably referring to big things. Not like, “I’m going to eat this piece of cake now,” because eating cake is easy AND worth it. But I think, in the long run, I’d rather have a book than cake. So I need to accept that it is all going to be much harder than I expected, and just keep on working.

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