progress amidst lack of progress

I’ve mentioned here once or twice that I’m working on a new, big project that I’m calling Losers (for now). And while I am making a lot of progress with it, it feels like I am standing still. I have more than 10,000 words written, and I have a clear idea of how to develop the rest of it, and then I have a clear idea of how to really develop the rest of it (mostly the story behind the story), but the sense of completing it is so far in the future that I feel as though I’m making no progress at all despite unbroken hours before my laptop.

While this will be a novel, it will be an unconventional one, at least from the way the tale is told. (And thus, unmarketable?) And before I can get the meat of the story into it, I must “assemble” the parts in their proper order so that I can hang the real story on them. I realize this is all cryptic and perhaps precious, but it’s the only way I can think to describe it without giving away the plot. (A writer I respect once said to me, “Tell your story once, and tell it in writing.” The point being that the motivation to finish a story can dissipate if you tell it before you’re done writing it.)

Helping or hampering this effort is the continuing fact that I’m having profound (in context) “realizations” about what this novel really is. In the last two weeks I’ve had three of these realizations that made everything that came before them just pencil work. “Of course, what’s really happening behind all of these words is . . .”* And “Aha, that’s who the narrator is!” And “I see now. This is why the tale is being told in this way!”

These kinds of revelations visited me when I was writing Obelus, and it resulted in a very different story from what I had started out to tell. I certainly welcome them, but what I have after is so much “better” than before that I fear I can’t finish writing the work until ALL of the profundities reveal themselves to me. And they don’t seem to be on any schedule or announce their pending arrival.

So I make slow but gratifying progress.


*Should I put a period after that ellipsis? Or maybe an exclamation point?

Explore posts in the same categories: Humble efforts

One Comment on “progress amidst lack of progress”

  1. I know every writer works differently, but I’m much like you with not talking about stories. My wife won’t read something until I’ve done all my polishes on it, and even on the annual writing retreat I do with a friend, we rarely discuss story specifics of works in progress.

    If my friend has a section of something he’s working on that he’s not wire about, I might take a look at it and discuss it, but I find it hard to sit and listen to someone talk about the plot of entire stories…especially if it’s something I am likely to read later. (Why read it when I’ve been given an hours-long blow-by-blow accounting of a 3,000 – 5,000 word short story, let alone a novel?)

    I understand others require the ability to talk things through in great detail and have people read everything as they write. I’m happy if those people can find the people to support their process, but I’d rather have painful dental work than listen to someone tell me everything that happens in a story.

    Here, I am much like my wife. Once it’s written, I will read it as much as someone needs and talk about it at length, but until that point, I feel like I’m contributing to stories told that never seem to end up finished…because the people who talk about things the most with me rarely finish the things they talk about.

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