Monday, June 20, 2016

Accidental Pilfering and Unreachable Endings.

Why can't I end this sodding book?

When you're writing a novel by the seat of your pants - as they say - it can be fun and even exhilarating, as your mind and fingers take over, and often even if you have managed to pen out some sort of structure for the day's writing, you barely ever stick to it, and instead find yourself off on wonderful tangents that had never before crossed your mind. There is a sort of freedom and also a feeling of surrender, like you are giving yourself over to some higher literary order, where the words take over and you are no longer in charge.

And this is a challenge and you have extremely good days and astronomically bad days, as with any art, and you have times of doubt and hatred and feeling like the whole world's gone poo, but you keep plugging away and your word count increases and you think, yes, I'll be finished in a week. Oh, maybe next week. Oh, maybe the week after. but definitely before we go on holiday. And then you find you can't end the damn thing, because the tangents are many and you need to follow them all and now the end scene has become the end act, and you're thinking this is the longest drawn out finale ever, and yet you still can't help adding those extra lines of dialogue and disclosing another secret from the vault. And still the ending is just out of sight.

I mean, surely I have to take positives, like the fact that I can't seem to stop writing, and that I could keep going with the ideas and the character explorations for who knows how long. Also, as you reach the end and the point of the novel becomes clearer, the villain revealed, you realise what is missing from the rest of it in order to drop subtle hints and leave sporadic clues for readers to latch on to. But then you're tempted to do that right away because it's so important that this first draft be miraculous. Ha ha. What you're doing is avoiding the ending, like it's some apocalyptic level event, when really you just have to write some words and collect all the separate strands of the story to become a complete thing and not this incomplete mess. (Way easier said than done). Man, the editing on this one is going to be fun. I bet I'll be able to cut out so much bumpf. But I do like bumpf, especially when I perhaps don't know the characters as well, because I've been making them up as I go along. As I've grown so have they. Sometimes, that extra dialogue or kissing scene or trivial mention of the past is necessary in order to make it all real.

So this is where I am right now, 104,000 words in and several thousand of them are the so called ending. I have just under a week to finish this bad boy and whilst the ending is in sight, it is still blurry and out of focus - not unfamiliar for me with my stupid shortsightedness - and I'm not sure whether I can break the cord and actually end the damn thing. I think my brain also hates endings, because that then means letting go of something. It means shutting off the force that kept these characters alive and kicking for the last six months and directing it on to something else, or at least giving myself the obligatory two weeks breather before reading through it. And it also leads to the hardest work of all: editing. No wonder I can't end it. That's when you have to start killing those darlings and gutting your work and taking out the bumpf and moving on to something new, and sometimes that is the hardest task of all.

I wrote that a few of days ago and have since added another few thousand words to the count, but have actually skewed the narrative towards its destination. So now it's a case of who do I kill off or wound or send away? And then how to do I stop all the dawdling and inevitable unnecessary dialogue because I can't let go of this? Ending a project is hard.

Keeping things literary, I accidentally pilfered a book from the library the other day. I have made several reservations within my borough's library system, whereby books in one of six libraries can be reserved and essentially traded between libraries, to pick up at your local/more convenient branch. All well and good, but every time I've tried, the books have come up as missing and I've still been charged and never informed, I've had to go in and check. So this time when I actually received an email telling me I could pick up my reservation, I nearly fell off my chair. One, because they'd never used my email address before. And two, because a few weeks earlier they told me that this reservation was also missing and would not be fulfilled. So. Joy. I would be receiving this book. I went in to pick it up. I was told it would be on the reservation shelf with my name on it. I found it and I scampered out.

Now, I have to explain that in my head this was then already in the library system, under my name, and so therefore I didn't have to sign it out like every other book. I know, Doh! comes to mind. What a knob. I think it was two days later in bed one night, when my mind finally caught up with my actions and I announced: I think I should have signed out my book. I think I pilfered it. Ooops. Genuine mistake, and to be fair, if any of my past reservations had worked then I would have made this mistake months ago and I would have known what I was doing. Instead, as a reservation virgin, I ballsed up.

So I went in yesterday. I had already been reading said book for about five days - it's a monster brick of a book - I checked my account for signs of the book. Nope. it was not on there. According to them, it was still waiting to be picked up. (As A rightly pointed out, no wonder books go missing.) So, with my bookmark firmly planted in, I signed out the book a week after taking it. Thankfully we have those self service machines and I didn't actually have to admit this to a librarian. And I'm also an honest person who would never knowingly pilfer a book from a library, or anywhere, for that matter; but what an idiot. So there you go, you must sign out your reserved library books once you pick them up. Who knew?

Okay, I've been sitting on this blog for days now, I think it's time it joined the world.

Enjoy the rain - first day of summer, my arse.