Sunday, January 6, 2013

Mental Sweat

I can't believe I'm over 40,000 words.

I can't fucking believe that.

I look at the word count - 41,345, 1,934 of which are definitely getting chucked and rewritten, but still - and I look at the page count - 71 pages, single-spaced (I don't double-space until it's time to edit, I don't know why, but it's how I roll) - and I just...I just don't believe it. Surely it's an error. Surely I haven't cracked 30K yet. But it isn't.

I told Matt it was because the work hadn't been difficult, and then immediately took it back: of course it's been difficult. It's been labor, hard work, I've put many hours into it and sweated and struggled and plotted and rewritten and tried again. But it hasn't been arduous. That's not quite correct, either, because it has been a great deal of effort, but it's the closest synonym I can think of. I guess what I mean is: I breezed past 40K without a thought, instead of feeling like I accomplished something when I looked at the left corner of my Word document and saw that number there.

Because there's been so much confidence. So much for me to believe in about this project, so much surety that every word I put down is another word on a book that's going to kick as much ass as my main character does. It's like when you sit down to do homework ( know, some adult kind of work), and you are definitely putting mental sweat into every minute, and then you look up and whoa, it's two hours later. You certainly worked hard, but the work and the time passed much quicker than you thought.

So now I'm at 41,345 words. And on Saturday I wrote another, oh, 4,000? longhand in my notebook. Funny story about that notebook. I'll get to it in a moment. That 4,000 was the second emotional peak in the book, when my MC learns that she's been rather a fool, and she has to draw on her reserves of strength and move forward with unfortunately less dignity. I was so inside the story that I had adrenalin butterflies in my stomach about what I was going to write, because I knew exactly what was going to happen and she didn't. This isn't the weirdest emotional reaction I've had when writing, but it's definitely one of the strongest. I had to drink an overly potent tequila screwdriver to calm down enough to write the damn thing.

I looked up once, and it was 8:00; I looked up again, and it was 10:15.


So, remember how I said I bought a Moleskine? By the end of last week, it was half full. The damn thing cost me $30 and I was definitely going to use it up long before I finished writing this book. Matt offered me several helpful suggestions for writing in such a way that I didn't Moleskine us out of house and home, and I couldn't accept any of them because I am a picky jerk. Instead I lolled about on the couch bemoaning how rapidly I'd used up half the Moleskine. He asked me what it was that bothered me so much about that, and I said it was just one of those moments that showed me how lifehacking my brain just doesn't work on me. "It's one of these times where I look at myself," I said, "and think, oh Kat, you tried to be smarter than yourself, and instead you showed that you were stupider than yourself."

On Saturday, after going to an extremely long opera (yes, yes, one thing at a time), I drove to the Barnes & Noble in Calabasas, because the Barnes & Noble twenty minutes away was just too convenient and now it's been closed and I have to go to the one that's thirty-five minutes away. I hate you, corporate America. I returned a couple of books and bought a two-pack of the flexible notebooks that Moleskine makes, full-sized but with soft covers instead of hard moleskiney ones and with many fewer pages. They're not as posh as the other but they were much cheaper, and they'll satisfy my need for paper and pen without making me feel guilty when I inevitably use them up (in a couple of weeks? That's what it's looking like, which means I'll have to go all the way the fuck back to Calabasas again).


So, the long opera. It was Les Troyens, it was five and a half hours long, it was unbelievable, and I am basically in mourning that I'll probably never see another staging of it. Most of the operas I've seen this season have become my new favorite opera, and with Troyens I'm tempted to protest "but I really mean it this time!" It was bigger than I thought it could be, more moving and beautiful than you'd believe if I told you, with more unique and fascinating music than I imagined. It rang through my every cell. But I would be a fool to recommend a five-and-a-half-hour opera to anyone, so I won't. Still. It was such an experience. The kind where know you'll never have quite another like it.

The very coolest thing about the opera was the tenor lead, Bryan Hymel, who had a simply colossal voice. Tenors don't usually do much for me, but he speared me to my seat. One of the other cool things about it, though, was this little Asian guy who had a supporting role. I don't know how tall he actually is, but he was shorter than most of the women on stage. He came in as a servant to the queen, and when he opened up his mouth to sing I got the shock of the week. I don't know what I expected from his voice, but not this:

That's him in Lucia di Lammermoor, but you get the idea. Gorgeous rich baritone, itty-bitty living space. I mean no disrespect, it was just kind of fun and surprising to have my expectations turned upside down like that.

And now that you've had your opera PSA for the week, I'm off. Heed me: don't get used to writing in fancy pretty notebooks. Stick with notebook paper (or the computer you already paid for) and you'll be a happy writer.

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