So, more times than I can count during the writing of Silksinger (still underway), I have said to myself, "Self, I am just going to knuckle down and write to the end. A free, wild burst of a draft, all the way through to the end. Then after that I'll, you know, write a better draft and then a better one, etcetera. Okay, ready. . . go!"
And then I'll write a few pages of this free, wild burst of a draft, my fingers a-flying over the keyboard, and it might even be a little thrilling at first. . . but after a few pages my shoulders will start to droop, my lips will start to sort of curl downward, I'll start to flag. The draft will begin to feel like this heavy, burdensome, awful thing I'm forcing myself through. It's terrible. Unusable. Why go on? And I'll stop and rewrite those few pages into something prettier and tighter and then I'll move on. Every time. I just reached the 4,000ish word mark on another such vow to "write to the end" and I'm halting here. I. Can't. Do. It. I can't work that way. Why must I pound my little fists up against this brick wall of my nature? Why not just accept my mind for what it is and work with it?
Here's what it is. Freewriting has emerged to be an absolutely essential part of my writing process, but I can't sustain it. For me, freewriting is the first of a two-step process. 1) Write a freewrite of the scene once or twice or thrice (or more), mull it over, figure out what really happens, and then, 2) Actually write the scene. Freewriting is the essential first half of writing to me. But I can only happily go scene by scene like that, not a whole draft. I need to reel the wild thing back in and tidy it up before I can go on. Again and again I try to defy myself and become a "mist-flyer" (someone once said that leaping into the unknown book and writing forward like that is like "flying into the mist" and I love the idea; I just can't do it!). Ah, it's funny how predictable the cycle is, how strong that desire can be to "write to the end" and how I'll get all gung ho about it and tell myself heartily that I can do it! And then after a few pages, the will is gone.
You know what it's like? It's like when you're hiking on a really hot day and the whole time you know that at the end of the hike a cool river is waiting for you and you imagine how wonderful it's going to feel to jump in! But by the time you descend into the river canyon, it's not so hot anymore. And you put your feet in and the water is so cold that all of a sudden you lose the desire to fling your whole body into it! THAT is what it's like. My book is like a cold river at the end of a hot hike. Agh! That makes no sense, I know.
"Process" -- does it even exist? This is a question posed on Gwenda's blog recently. She cited Rosemary Wells as saying something like, "All [good/real/some value judgement] writers know there's no such thing as process." And Gwenda agreed and I thought "Urk?" and at first I was certain I disagreed wholeheartedly. Now, I don't know. What is process? I would love to explore the idea right now at length but it would only be an avoidance technique. Silksinger awaits me! Tally ho!