Writing this weekend was absolutely horrible. Yesterday came very, very close to being the first day of 2015 in which my total word count was less than zero. In fact, it might actually have achieved that dubious honor. But I’m not counting it as such because even if I did delete more words than I wrote, I did write at least a few sentences and the words I deleted were not working anyway. I also discovered my problem, which is what I really needed. Writing work happened, in other words, even if the word count doesn’t show it. Besides, I haven’t been tracking my word count this year, because tracking word count just stresses me out instead of inspiring me.
My problem, alas, was that my ending doesn’t work. It’s strange the number of ways writing can not work. You’d think it would be so straightforward: do the sentences make sense? Do they line up one after another in a proper order? Congratulations, your writing works! But, no, that’s not how it goes. You’ve always got the question of whether they’re good sentences, interesting sentences, but you’ve also got the question of whether they fulfill the promises that the story makes.
In this case, events changed in little ways to the point where my ending no longer made sense. Noah was making a choice that worked for the situation I expected him to be in when I started writing. But along the way, little things happened — not big things, not huge changes, just minor drifts away from my mental image, natural embellishments to my mental map. And suddenly I was at a blank wall, no further progress possible, until I realized that Noah — the real Noah, the Noah on the page, Noah as he had taken form while I wrote — that Noah was nowhere close to being in a dark enough place to do what I was trying to write him to do.
There was much wailing and ranting and pulling of hair when I realized this. Honestly, it’s a good thing I write on a computer and save my file in multiple spaces, because if I’d had one paper copy, I might have taken it out into the backyard and set the damn thing on fire. My frustration level was high enough that watching it go up in smoke might have been really satisfying. But then I would have woken up this morning thinking, “now what?” regarding my own life, instead of spending yesterday evening pondering “now what?” regarding Noah’s life. And my pondering did get me places. I might spend some time writing in some circles, my words might not drive toward the conclusion the way I expected them to, and I probably am not going to finish writing this week (DAMN IT!), but I have a direction this morning and a plan for how I can keep what I liked about my ending and write around the parts that didn’t work. So, progress. Slow and frustrating progress, but progress.
This week is a weird milestone for me. I should wait to write about it until Wednesday, but ten years ago Wednesday, I was at SXSW for work and a co-worker convinced me I should start a blog. To say that I didn’t take it seriously for the first few years would be a dramatic understatement. I had various computer problems, a busy life, and a strong sense of privacy, of not wanting to reveal much about my circumstances to potential professional contacts. I didn’t have my name all over the blog or anything, but there’s no real such thing as anonymity on the internet. Anything you write might someday be discovered by a real-world contact or the whole world. In those first few years, posts were sparse. But it’s been ten of them and wow, ten years is really a lot of life.
It makes me think back — and think forward, too. I think it’s time to make some of my daydreams reality. Not the ones involving magic kingdoms under the sea or small towns where people fall in love but the ones involving my day-to-day life. But there’s a dog stuffing her nose under my fingers, saying, please, please, please, her tail wagging, so more about that the next time I write. Happy Mondays! May all your work this week delight you. Hey, I like that wish so much I’m going to make it for me, too — may all our work this week delight us!