Paint It Black

So how is the new year going for you thus far, Constant Reader? I am on holiday for today, finishing the book hopefully this morning before the LSU game so I can watch it in peace with no worries–or so my attention won’t be divided between finishing it and watching the game. I also ordered groceries to be picked up later this afternoon as well. I made my quota again yesterday, and realized, as I moved into the living room with my journal to relax for the rest of the day, that I have written a ridiculous amount lately, and that it not only felt good but still does feel good. I don’t feel exhausted, despite all the writing and all of the other pressures, the way I usually do when I get to the end. I also feel good about the book, too–it needs some more work, but I am getting it in today with the full knowledge and expectation of necessary edits and revisions. But even as it is, it’s pretty decent, and I am pleased with it. I always put so much pressure on myself, and always doubt myself, and am always so terrified that I am not going to ever be able to get back into a writing groove and the creativity is going to dry up–or the desire to do it will go away once and for all. But I don’t think that’s reality. I think that’s more of that self-defeating self-doubt fear of success and unwillingness to feel pride neurosis I’ve really got to get past at some point before I die, and I do this to myself every time I write anything, really. Maybe it’s a part of my process, which is an absolutely terrifying thought–although that would be a great answer for the next time I’m asked about my process (which really doesn’t happen as often as one might think); “my process is to convince myself that I can no longer write, if I ever knew how really in the first place, and that the well has finally run dry and it’s all over and I am going to have to figure out something else to do with the rest of my life, and then once I’ve had an almost complete mental breakdown I will emerge yet again like a phoenix from the ashes of that meltdown and calmly sit down and blast out over thirty thousand words in slightly more than a week.”

Because that is literally how I write a book. Every. Single. Fucking. Time.

And why I squirm when asked about my process in interviews and on panels.

I slept in this morning and it felt marvelous. I feel rested and recharged, and ready to dig into the final chapter of the book as well s the epilogue. And after a few cups of coffee this morning I am going to go in. I’d love to be finished before the LSU game starts, but I think that’s at eleven and thus highly unlikely. I did do my six thousand words yesterday is just under four hours, so who knows? Maybe it is possible for me to bang out this chapter in an hour or so; one never really knows how well it’s going to go and how quickly the words will come out from my fingers flying across the keyboard; I know I used to write first drafts of short stories of about five thousand words in about two hours or so back in the day when I was younger, had more energy, and more time to think things through before sitting down to write. I often write everything out in my head before I sit down at the keyboard, so really the first draft gets written in my head, the second draft is me typing it all out and correcting things, the third draft is usually the fix the errors draft, and the fourth is the polish of language. Then comes editorial revisions and copy edits and all of that fun stuff. So, that’s my process. Sometimes I don’t even think about it before I sit down and start typing–which is the fiction-writing equivalent of spirit writing, where it just all starts coming out of me as I am typing it and I have no idea where any of it is coming from. You can see why it worries me that at some point the well will run dry? When you don’t know where the stories are coming from, it’s very easy to fear that they’ll stop coming at some point. It’s almost like magic, in a way.

We started watching Treason on Netflix last night, which was interesting. We also got caught up on Three Pines and Welcome to Chippendales (which they are really dragging out for far too long, and last night’s episode Juliette Lewis was so fucking annoying and homophobic I wanted to literally reach into the television screen and just slap the snot out of her; there’s nothing more annoying than a straight woman who doesn’t take a gay relationship seriously because it’s not, to a heteronormative, a “real” relationship; I’ve had this experience numerous times in my real life and yes, it’s a fucking anger trigger for me, as you can obviously tell) before watching Treason, which is interesting but again, it’s one of those annoying super-dad stories where Dad will put world security (or whatever) at risk for the sake of his own child. I hate those stories, so I am not entirely sure we’ll continue. It’s a clever premise (without the child-at-risk stakes) whereas a Russian spy has been helping a British MI6 agent rise through the ranks by giving him intel–the objective being to get him into a leadership position so they can coerce him into being a double-agent for them. That was interesting. The problem was some other group decides to kidnap his daughter–so of course, everything is up in the air–national security, safety of the general population, etc.–because he loves his daughter so much fuck everything else in the world because nothing else matters. I fucking hate Super-Dad stories–because in these cases Super-Dad always risks everything in the world–including, in some cases, the safety of a group of people dependent on him (this was when Stephen King’s Cell lost me; because of course everyone in the group went along with putting themselves at risk of death to help save Super-Dad’s child because that child is more important than ALL of them)…because it also paints an unrealistic picture of fathers who are present and good fathers. For me, the struggle to do what is best for the group rather than potentially sacrificing them all for the selfish goal of saving one’s own child would make a more interesting story. It also always amazes me in these stories that no one ever questions these decisions and go along with them. I know I can be a cold-hearted bitch but I am also very pragmatic. In an end-of-the-world situation like Cell, it simply doesn’t make sense for everyone to put their lives at risk for this man’s child. You have to put your own interests aside in order to be a good leader sometimes. Those are the kinds of sacrifices I’m interested in reading…the slow realization that you, a cisgender straight white man, aren’t the fucking center of the universe and must sacrifice for the benefit of all. That’s leadership.

Can you tell how sick I am of the Superdad fantasy? LOL.

I also spent some time reading A Walk on the Wild Side yesterday, which I am beginning to enjoy a bit more–the main character has finally reached New Orleans, and while some of the geography seems off–there are times when I can’t really quite figure out where they are or how they are getting around–but we’re finally getting to the part with the prostitutes and the bordello, which is really what I was reading it for (the first hundred pages are set-up for the reader to get to know the main character, Dove Linkhorn, and how he came to set out for New Orleans from Texas in the first place; which easily could have been condensed down to a couple of paragraphs, really; the book could have started with him climbing onto the freight train to escape his miserable life in Texas, and as the train rolled through the night flashbacked to all the first hundred pages which could easily be condensed to a few paragraphs/pages–but it’s mid-twentieth century straight white male MFA literary fiction, of course). I like reading about past New Orleans, and yes, reading this does make me think about writing more historical crime novels centered in New Orleans.

And on that note, I am going to open my word document and start plugging away at the finish of this. Have a lovely second day of the new year, Constant Reader, and I will check in with you either later or tomorrow.

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