Cue my montage. Picture me back at the desk, strumming my fingers. I got slush piles all around me. I got a red pen in the other hand. I’m about to burst.
No, really, I have been a mess. One bad critique and for two days I felt lost, adrift in the wilderness. I was ready to give up on writing. Ready to accept that I was a mentally challenged nobody. Ready to pack it up and go back to flipping burgers. No insult to burger flippers of course, I am one of you and I love you.
I truly was a mess. I reread my chapter. Now all the obvious problems stood out to me. How could I have been so goddamn foolish? I have read this thing so many damn times. I was subconsciously aware of the problems. I could sense that it didn’t read well, that the story was choppy, but I had gone ahead and put it out there anyway. Why, I psychoanalyze, would I put my own crappy work out there, knowing damn well, I am going to be called out for my errors, and that it is going to get me all riled up?
It’s a post for a another day. Let’s focus on the present. I took a day off of writing. Saturday, I spent the day listening to crazy videos on youtube, and getting deeply involved in chess for like four hours. I also read a little, Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale”. I cooked a delicious calzone for the family, drank a coupe glasses of white-wine, and beat Bio-Shock Infinite (which was an incredible story, video game experience).
Today I woke up, the resistance was strong. My plan was to attack chapter one, but suddenly I felt no love for it. It was stupid. Pointless. I felt bugged by the wife and kids. It was all mediocre. Tapioca. Everything had yellowed. I could feel the impending stress of commonness. But I went through the routine. I ate a breakfast sandwich. It was delicious, to be begrudgingly honest. I pounded a couple cups of coffee and then headed for the office.
Another hour of distractions ensued. I listened to some music. Checked youtube. Went upstairs and lectured the wife on positive thinking, and parenting, about how parents need to immerse themselves in with their children. “Like gorillas in the mist,” I said, “we need to blend in with the children’s environment, take their habits. Smell and think like them. They must take us for one of their own, or we will never lead them.”
I end up back in my office. I got pages open. I decide to start a new file. I realize I must pick over the remains of my shoddy first draft. Rehabilitate the quality material, excise the yellow gelatinous growths. I decide to have a horizontal document. The new orientation is appealing. I realize right away that one of the problems in the story is a tense issue. I am forcing the passed tense. I realize that is one reason it all sounds like a big info-dump. I am not in the story.
I begin rewriting the sentences using the present tense. Now portions begin to connect with each other. It reads smoother. I am working now. A couple hours later we have two thousand words, which are better than what I started with. I’m back in the fight.
Still waiting on the third critique. I want to get the new version up, try to cut my bad critic off at the pass. That’s what this is about, being embarrassed about failing. I have to accept that my story was failing. That’s not the reader’s fault, that is mine. There are too many good story tellers out there for people to waste their time on my poorly written book. This is my challenge. Don’t suck.