Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Poison Arrow

Discovering a new writer can be one of life's gifts, that first encounter with an incredible, unimagined dimension miraculously captured in words. China Mieville's latest, The City & The City, just started this week, could be miraculous or something else altogether; a new writer is just as easily and all the more likely your worst enemy. I'm not deep enough into the novel to know either way. Authors can hide what is magical in their writing, what really grabs and bridges the page to your mind, revealed with patience and careful reading; just as easily and all the more likely nothing's there. You pays your money and you takes your chances.

One writer is always new yet old, magical at a glance but upon closer scrutiny vile, scurrilous and loathsome. Any writer in love with their first draft please contact me immediately and spill the beans how it is done. What feels so good, so right, flowing onto the page loses something in hindsight, is a complete mess and beckons with hours of editing. What can you do.

Sounding less than thrilled is not the same as reluctance. I look forward to shaping the raw work into something readable. It's going to be work, that's all, to cobble together disparate sections of what will one day compose my second novel. Editing on the first one is a horse of a different color. I'm shaping it beyond readable, which is most certainly is, into publishable form, but laying out the intimations of the next was an act of nothing less than self-defense.

Other writers have warned me against finishing a manuscript. If you don't have another project to jump into, the ensuing dread is akin to facing the end of existence: What if I don't have another book in me? The question punctures your skin like a poison arrow, devours the belly, burns the spleen and dissolves the heart, worming its dirty way up your spine like it was a ladder of doom and bursts your brain. The real downer is that you shot yourself, concocted your own doom. Who wants that? So, overlapping the end of one project with the beginning of another provides good protection against being your own worst enemy.

That's how things stand so far. If this is my last blog post, you'll know why!


Lidian said...

I nodded all through this post - in fact I hate my fiction first drafts so much that (and this is the first time I'm admitting this) every time I finished a NaNoWriMo (I think I've done 4)I just...never looked at it again. Because I hated them all - a lot. I am probably skipping NaNo this year!

I hope this is NOT your last blog post - you are a wonderful writer, and I always enjoying reading what you have to say.

Lidian said...

I meant to say "never looked at THEM again" - i.e. all those NaNo drafts...I guess I should at least look at my first-draft comments again ;)