Thursday, September 8, 2011

Follow Through

Art can exist within the shroud.

I have to wrack my brain to remember, but I’m pretty sure the first time pen hit paper in regard to my debut novel K [phantasmagoria] was about two years ago. That would mean I started writing the first bits of the concept right about the time I was just starting to pull out of a debilitatingly vivid depression over what the experts call a “life event.” Suffice it to say that personal loss can drive an artist to produce amazingly potent and relevant work, which I believe this work will be. Never mind that it’s taken so long to write it.

It’s funny that when I set off on K [phantasmagoria] I wasn’t much of a writer. I didn’t know much about fiction beyond what Aldous Huxley and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had donated to me from beyond the grave. I had no concept of what passive voice might be. I was unaware of the dangers of direct address in fiction. I didn’t know the rules. So I started to make some of my own. I’m vaguely aware that it’s a no-no to use contractions in the narrative now. But I do it when it fits, for instance, because it just reads better.

Basically there are no sacred cows. Including that old chestnut about not dwelling over the work. And not re-writing anything until the rough draft is done. And the whole idea of NaNoWriMo, which encourages writers of all stripes to bust something out from start to finish every November. Sorry, mate. Not this time round, anyway.

You ever hear that old joke about how something happened on the way to the theater or whatever? Yep. It’s the same with me and my novel, only my novel is what happened to me on my way to finishing it. I’m sure someone out there can relate.

It’s not that it’s in need of salvage. Far from it. It’s just that, in a way, I started writing it too soon. Again, I’m sure there’s a writer out there who can relate.

All of this baggage conspires against completion, though, y’know? It’s true. Better to get things done quickly. Better to resist some of the more controllable, optional distractions and slug it out, get it done. All that conventional wisdom.

But as it turns out, all the delays and distractions have served a greater purpose. They’ve given me time to think my way through the plot forward and backward, get to know the premise, lay things out just right, fine tune everything…and learn how to write, let alone write a novel.

This is just to encourage you. Follow through on that project that’s been shelved for God knows how long and for God knows how many reasons. Follow through on it and start to finish it. It will be worth your time. Your effort. Because it’ll be as much a part of you as you are of it when all is said and done. Follow through.