I’ve been on a writing jag. The words are flowing out faster than I can type, and I’m giddy at how story elements are weaving together into a coherent whole without any help from me. I’m a slack-jawed passenger on this feverish car ride, just trying to hang on so I can tell others about it later.
Frankly, I’m almost panicking. I don’t write like this! I make meticulous plans. I write out important details that need to be tied together. I work in chronological order, from the first chapter to the last. I’m neat. I’m orderly. I use a template meant for class notes to list all the sex scenes in a story.
Except… well… that never works out too well. Planning shit, I mean. In fact, I’ve killed a lot of stories that way. Breaking them into discombobulated pieces through outlines and notes in the way a medieval torturer broke bodies on the Catherine wheel. In contrast, Wolf’s Wife came out of me in nineteen days, with another ten days needed to fill in and polish it. I didn’t have one single note to help me along with that story; it just poured out as the result of reaching a low point in the already low experience of having a mental breakdown. I didn’t want to think, not at all, so instead I wrote.
But I’m an obsessive, overly-focused perfectionist by nature, and it’s not until recently that I considered approaching a story by deliberately not thinking about it as a method with merit. That perhaps Wolf’s Wife wasn’t a fluke but me stumbling onto how I actually tick as a writer.
Dear friend K.S. Villoso calls it “trusting the process.” And really, the nature of storytelling comes down to trust, doesn’t it? Encouraging the reader to trust your ability to tell them a good fucking story, and trusting yourself to tell that good fucking story.
Self-doubt is the imp on the writer’s back, unless you’re one of those bastards with so much ego that it’s inconceivable that you could ever fail. I’m not, and I hesitate a lot. I fidget. I question whether I know what I’m really doing. And the answer is: of course I fucking don’t. So then I plot, and plan, and write a little, and plan some more, and start the story over, and edit the rewritten scenes, and plan again, and by this time the story isn’t just a dead horse being beaten, it’s a goddamn skeleton pulverized into dust.
In short, I can’t go on trying to write like this. Not if I want all these stories out of my head and onto the page.
There’s no neat ending here. Life isn’t that pat. Maybe I’ll run myself into the ground with this new, scary way of writing. Maybe I’ll continue to write with the feverish intensity of a bat out of hell. Who knows. All I can do is trust the process.
And drink. I can drink a lot, too.