Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Control Ain't Just a Janet Jackson Song

The Girl Scout story got workshopped yesterday. It was a confusing, difficult workshop. There was no consensus; everyone had something different to say about what they wanted it to do and be. Usually when that happens, it means the story needs pitching, not rewriting, but I'm certain that is not the case here. So I don't really know where to go with it, aside from just trusting in what I wrote, which is an extremely arrogant thing to do. I think I'll submit it a few places and then look at it again in six months or thereabouts.

The most worrisome comment was from the professor, who told me that I needed to "let go of intent" to give my work "a more organic feel". This is more or less the same thing that my workshop professor from last semester told me. She gave me feedback that has haunted me insanely since I got it: that my control over the writing was too tight, that the story was constructed too meticulously and that I needed to let go and write with more freedom. I have no idea what this means or how to improve it (particularly with the story I workshopped that led to this feedback, which required strong control, dammit), but hearing an echo of it in another professor, who has no idea what the prior one said, makes me want to wail and rend my garments.


(She also said the Girl Scout story was "nearly flawless" in its surface aspects. Which is a nice adjective, one I'm happy to take away with me.)

Aside from that, something else happened since last we spoke. Over the weekend, I had a fit that is seemingly becoming a part of my ritual for beginning a big project. I drew you a highly professional diagram for this process.

So this weekend I kicked and screamed and yelled and whined about the wikibook, because no fooling, you guys, I am genuinely scared out of my skull about writing this thing. But I can't keep pretending that I can put it off until next year, or next century. I have to begin. So I had the tantrum, and now I can buckle down.

I have no idea how this project is going to go. Not a clue. Generally it takes me something like a quarter of a year to write a novel (which, please, writers who are reading: don't use that as an example for your own work or a way to shame me about the shoddiness of my effort), but the nature of this book means I could be working on it for much longer. Years, maybe. I hope I won't be, but I'm not eliminating it as a possibility.

Matt advised me to set a deadline for review on it. That is, he said I should work for a certain number of months and then make a mandatory stop to reevaluate the project, see if I should keep going or stop or set other deadlines or what. I thought this was fucking amazing advice, and I plan to implement it.

I don't know how to organize my work on it around my other responsibilities, which have changed dramatically since the last time I worked on a novel. But I hope to get going before the end of October. Now that I've punched pillows and moaned sufficiently, work can really start.

It's work that needs tight control, so I guess my professor's feedback is well-timed. Either that or I'm not ready to write this book at all and it's going to be a big disaster. I guess, in the coming months, we'll see.

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