I feel naked.
I just gave the beginning of my next novel to my agent and I am feeling horribly exposed. Mainly because I think I’ve got it all wrong and it’s awful and it needs so much work that if I start now I might be finished just in time to enter assisted living.
So I’ve decided to give up writing, go to night school and become a trash compactor.
And I know you’re thinking Oh, she’s probably just saying that. She’s one of those whiners who always say I’m going to fail the test and then makes straight A’s. I hate those kind of people. I never made straight A’s. Which is kind of puzzling because I always thought I’d aced the test.
No, I’m having real trouble with this next book. I know I go through a bit of hell with each one but this time I’m in deep satanic space. I look back at the time when I wrote my first novel, How to Cook a Tart, with wonder. I wrote with so much exuberance then. I didn’t know what I was doing and didn’t care. I just enjoyed myself. Now I worry and hunch and procrastinate like mad.
Which is the reason I’ve given my agent a bit. I’m hoping it will jar me out of this unproductive cycle.
But you know what happens when you expose your horrible work? You sweat. A lot.
I remember when I lived in L.A. and wrote for an actors/writers workshop. I wrote an earnest little piece about the right to choose and the actors put it on as the end of the year show. We invited our friends and the seats filled and the house lights went down and I began to sweat. Profusely. The acting was good but the writing was so on the nose that within five minutes I was dripping and wishing there was a manhole under my seat that I could just slither into.
I learned two things that night: one, don’t write a character talking on the phone for ten minutes and two, wear cotton.
photo by iainr (flickr)