Saturday, October 20, 2012

Coming to the end…and grinding to a halt

For weeks now, my MG manuscript has been on the verge of being a finished first draft. Weeks. Seriously.

Instead of finishing it, I’ve cleaned toilets, baked gluten free experiments, set up an entire year’s worth of horse show events on Facebook for my daughter’s team, watched all of the new episodes of Castle on my iPhone, and started a new Twitter account. I’ve consumed a lot of coffee, helped assemble 725 nametags for TEDx Columbus, made a new friend, and taught numerous classes for work. Oh… and now I’m writing this instead of opening my book file.

Yes… I’m sitting on the platform at Procrastination Station ignoring every train that whistles down the tunnel.

My writing partner once heckled me about getting distracted so easily. We were in her basement trying to plot out our first novel and write something – anything – that we could call a beginning. I could focus for only so long, eventually trying to convince her to go see the new Star Trek movie. She looked at me as if I’d grown an extra ear in the middle of my forehead.

So you see… I know I get distracted. I know I tend to lose focus at the worst possible moments. But this is getting ridiculous.

I’m beginning to realize I might just be experiencing not just writer’s block, but some sort of writer’s paralysis. What will happen when the plot curve is complete? As I wrap up the climax and falling action, how will I know if it is, indeed, finished? And then what? In my head, I can only see a dark tunnel, leading to who knows where – and not a flicker of light at the end. I write the last few chapters. I go back and fix a plot hole I know exists earlier in the book. And then… Then I have to do one of two things:

1.      Put the whole thing aside for a few weeks and ignore it. (I’m pretty good at ignoring it now, for heaven’s sake. So this shouldn’t be intimidating…but knowing I have to set a date and come back to it for editing and eventually finding an agent. This is what stops me in my tracks.)

2.      Find a reader or two. Readers I trust. Readers who will give me critique, creative criticism…and who will hopefully find a way to let me down gently if they see clearly what I cannot – if they know it is just plain bad.

So which one will it be? Virtual shoebox under my bed? Or courageous leap into handing over my written baby to someone else to examine?

Maybe if I can make this decision, I can focus again. Write those last few chapters. Carry my characters home.