Wednesday, August 23, 2023

The Thick of It

 I've never been particularly great with schedules. 

Or maybe it's more project prioritization I'm not good at. 

Either way, it is not uncommon for me to to find myself in the absolute thick of something, running with it until I'm exhausted, and then I look up and realize, "oh. Shit. Yeah, I was supposed to do that, too." 

Which is all my way of saying that, yeah, I haven't been around Do Some Damage as much lately. Not because I don't have things I want to talk about, but because because my schedule means I have to write at night. Because the novel I'm working on has crossed a few pretty important milestones. Because its hard to focus on anything else, especially when my rule has always been, "anything you want to do after has to come after you get your words down". Because I'm in the thick of it. 

I've written a few novels before.

The first was so absolutely god awful I didn't even bother to edit it. I just threw the file in a folder, then threw that folder in a different folder, and then put it all on a USB drive that I've probably lost by now, thank god. There are parts of that book I remember fondly, a few turns of phrase that seemed clever. But my clearest memory is of racing towards the finish. Of a fevered writing session in which I lay down 10k words, finally typing THE END with my shirt off, absolutely pouring sweat. I remember I was alone - I hadn't had a kid yet, and my wife was on a business trip to LA. I remember it was my birthday. I think I turned 32 that day. I remember all that, but I don't remember being in the thick of it, then. I don't remember any part of writing that book where it felt like it was taking over my life. Where I felt animated by something somehow both internal and external at the same time.

My second attempt at a novel was better than the first, but probably still not particularly great. I had a main character whose motivations I didn't fully understand, and an antagonist who was so clearly the better character it made several scenes hard to write. It was more ambitious than my first attempt at a novel, but it didn't quite gel. There was hope though. I remember a few times during the writing of that novel where I looked up and realized, shit, I just lost two hours. What do I do now? I was in the thick of it. That obliterating flow state, pushing creation towards the surface, blotting everything else out. I was so in the thick of it, actually, that I just realized, writing this out, I finished that novel on my birthday too. The night before my birthday, actually. The night before I turned 34. 

There was another book shortly after. A lot better. A novella, called Blood Bends the Rail. You might even see this one come to light someday. It was the first thing I wrote after becoming a father, and, at the time, I can remember falling into it, but being pulled away to feed my daughter her midnight bottle. But I was never resentful of that. I was already exhausted all the time, so the thick of a new book, it was just another log on the pile, another thing to be managed. If I hadn't fallen in to it, I probably would have tossed it aside as a self-imposed burden on an already impossibly tired and genuinely freaked out new father. But the book spoke to me, and I found myself returning every night, after the midnight bottle had been delivered, falling further in again. 

I almost didn't get this post up, snapping a potential streak of postless days which might have caused my Do Some Damage compatriots to start ask themselves, "wait, who do we have posting every other Wednesday, again?", because, if you can't guess, I'm in the thick of it now. 

Tonight, a character I had planned to make it to the end, died unexpectedly. 

Tonight, I saw an image of a new ending, flickering with life. 

Tonight, I fell in to the thick of it. Deeper than I have with any other book before. And I wrote through it. I wrote until I was exhausted. But I'm so energized by it, I'm back. Posting here.  

I'll be back again, two Tuesdays from now. The book won't be done by then, but I hope I'll still be in the  thick of it. And I hope, whatever you're working on, you will be too. 

No comments: