As of yesterday, I’m currently on retreat in an attempt to complete the fourth draft of Helm’s Edge.
And Jesus, do I hate the revision process. I hate it almost as much as I hate writing the first draft.
Helm’s Edge has to be one of the most difficult projects I’ve tasked myself with. Written from the first person perspective, in present tense, Helm’s Edge is written through the naive eyes of a nerdy recluse (not unlike myself) who must join forces with a rag-tag band of survivors against an army of monsters that have invaded the city. I love the premise. I love the characters. But I’ve never felt more creatively restricted.
In my last post I briefly wrote about my difficulties with this novel, that at one point I was totally ready to walk away, to abandon it. I traditionally write in the third person perspective: viewpoints of multiple characters, roving world-building with tons of descriptions and atmospheric emotion. I love it. Tell me to write high fantasy in the third person, and I’m a cat in yarn-ball heaven. The first drafts of Helms Edge were fast-paced, void of very much description save for the protagonist’s reactions to everything around him. Bland.
In this final draft, I am determined to flesh everything out: the characters and their back stories, make our shy and nerdy hero a more reflective, awkward, individual who eventually rises up through the rites of coming-of-age. Delve into the actual conflict, why it’s happening, and if there’s any chance for the characters’ survival.
But where I’m at right now is that dreaded first chapter. The hook. The fly tape to attract all potential readers. That god damned first chapter, in my opinion the toughest chapter to write.
In my quest to properly world build the city of Helm’s Edge and give my protagonist some depth, I’ve been more or less afraid that the first chapter has become boring. However, I know that it isn’t, but something keeps nipping at the back of my mind. Insecurity? Lacking self esteem? I don’t know what it is, but I need it to quit.
And without the aide of voluntary readers to critique and advise from the perspective of a consumer, I have no idea if I’m hitting my targets, or missing completely.
I am determined to finish this final draft in the two weeks that I have escaped (realistically, house-sitting for a friend), but I’ve just felt so mental drained. Exhausted. All I want to do is sleep, and no amount of tea or chocolate helps. When typical writing sessions of 1,000 words have faltered to mind-bashing skirmishes that result in a measly 300 words per session, I can’t help but want to scream, cry, tear my hair out.
On my monitor at home, I have plenty of quotes and proverbs posted around the screen. “Need inspiration? Butt in chair, hands on keyboard.” … “You’re not a writer unless you WRITE!” … “1,000 words a day, that’s all it takes.”
I know what I must do. I -want- to write. I -need- to write. But folks who I admire — Lawrence Block, Stephen King, Chester Himes — they make it seem so easy. And it isn’t.
All I want is this fucking book to be done. I need my drive and my creative ambition and my writer’s discipline back so that I can be rid of this awful tormentor. I’m so well adept at working for others, but working for myself? Taking care of myself? I’m awful at it. I don’t take care of myself the way that I need to, mentally or emotionally, and that makes things even more frustrating.
Maybe it’s time I register that full Lumosity subscription.
One day at a time. 300 words is better than none.
One day at a time.