|Posted on December 10, 2018 at 3:35 PM|
from Facebook, 4/9/17
It came out of nowhere. For months, I'd been putzing around with the ending to my novel, getting no closer to where I wanted to be. It's theme- and character-driven; the plot is important, but it's there for the protagonist to fight against. Right now it's way too heavy and the theme had gotten lost. It was messy, it made no sense, and my protagonist did little more than run errands. Under duress, sure, but it didn't change the fact that he was going from point A to point F, making all stops between, with little progress along the way.
At the end of February I had an anxiety attack or three. One of them seemed to start on one day and not stop until the next. I haven't had them for years, so this was distressing. It wasn't just the ending that was weighing on me, but three or four deadlines and an upcoming release. It was time for a break.
Road trips are generally great for clearing out the cobwebs, so I was overjoyed that this abundance of stress had impeccable timing. I headed out to Middleton, WI for a sophomore turn as judge in a mustard competition. The National, 'cuz mustard don't play.
But the cobwebs and spiders were replaced with crickets, the little sonsabitches.
It was nerve-wracking, driving at top speed, trying to dissect my novel at the plot level and coming up empty.
Have I mentioned my innate fear of crickets? They're only slightly less terrifying than butterflies and moths because they don't chase you. Christ, what a fucking psychotic species, crickets. By comparison, spiders are cake.
Aha! As I sat baking in my car in a parking spot in bumblefuck Wisconsin, vomiting this blog post, it hit me.
Horror comes from the littlest things, even your own backyard, and that's what I needed to focus on. I finally got an idea how to trim the fat, make only a few "runs", and get to the meat of things. KISS may be a shitty band but it's a great acronym. I'm not saying it's perfect—betas may very well tell me it's shite—but at least I no longer feel like I'm teetering on a rock in the center of roaring rapids. I don't have to burn the whole village and leave town under the cover of night. (Although I might...purely for research purposes.)
Categories: Writer's Life