After a day of bashing gay-haters, I felt pretty good. Yesterday’s post was well received, and I carried a good feeling through the day and into the night.
Here I am, 5 AM, having up been for about 90 minutes, my throat raw and my nose stuffed. This sucks. So I’ve decided to work from The Undisclosed Location, med up, get better, and be ready to blow out of here and travel back home when 4 PM shows.
That’s me: fight the good fight one day, trying to keep from throwing up the next. That’s how you roll.
Couples Dance got a bit of a workout yesterday. Another 1,050 words added, and the total is over 31,000 words. Chapter 9 drew more towards the conclusion and the strangeness that’s going to be it’s centerpiece. And I do mean strangeness. This chapter has become something completely different from what I’d originally envisioned. Originally it was suppose to be quick, sharp, to the point. A real wham, bam! sort of penultimate nastiness that was going to set up the last chapter and give me the closeout I wanted.
But, to paraphrase The Narrator, on a long enough timeline, everything changes. I’d already changed the intro to the chapter, and now, I’ve started envisioning Chapter 9 as something of a physiological drama with dark, sexual overtones. And I’m trying to capture that feeling. I have it in my mind how I want it to go, I just have to convey it to the reader.
A few days ago, when I embarked in this direction, I worried myself. Oh, yes, I did. Because the doubt comes, the feeling that you’re going to throw something out there that’s not only looks laughably stupid, but elicits groans of misery from your readers. That thought is what keeps you playing it safe, that holds you to the background and tells you, “You know, just give them what you think they want.”
But I so very much want to do the story on my terms. Something I remember Whoopie Goldburg once saying was along the lines of, “I do it my own way. If it sucks, it’s still mine, and I’ll take the blame,” and I like to think of that as being good advice for everyone.
Then I ran across this last night. It’s a quote from Arthur Miller, taken from Writing with Style by John R. Trimble:
“The writer must be in it; he can’t be to one side of it, ever. He has to be endangered by it. His own attitudes have to be tested in it. The best work that anybody ever writes is the work that is on the verge of embarrassing him, always.“
Really, I needed to hear that last night. When I was sitting around wondering if I should be doing this, if I should go off in this direction, I get this kick in the ass, and it was my own Bam! moment.
Because a lot of what I’ve tried to do in the past has always been done with just a touch of fear. ”Am I doing something that’s going to make me look stupid?” I’d think. Sometimes I’d never write what I wanted to write. Sometimes I’d just stop writing, unable to put another word down to that story.
But when you got the guy who created Willy Loman telling you, “Stop being a wuss and write the goddamn story!” you gotta listen. You gotta write that story, and if it makes you look a little crazy in the process of putting it out there, then hell, baby, go with it. Hell, ninety percent of criticism in these days of the Internet boils down to, “Yur Story Suks!” and I should worry about that shit?
No, better to write with the idea that, yeah, I’m gonna look stupid–or better yet, I’m going to pull something out from deep within my soul and show the world a part of me that I’d rather they not see–but why live with that fear? Have you ever read the uncut version of Stephen King’s, The Stand? If you have, you remember the scene in the hotel between Trashcan Man and The Kid. When he was writing that sucker, I’m sure he wasn’t thinking, “Damn, man, I better not do this; people are gonna think I’m fuckin’ high.” Well, considering King’s history, maybe he was . . . but the point is, he wrote it, he sent it to his publisher, they went, “Goddamn, man, what’s wrong with you?” and it would be a little more than a decade after the original printing that we’d see what he wrote.
It’s not fear that keeps you from showing the stuff that will make up your best story: it’s you, and how you react to that fear, that holds you back.
Heavy stuff for a morning.
But I go to sleep with Annie by my side, and this is what she expects of me come morning.