Trying to Kill the Beast
"Writing a book is an adventure. To begin with it is a toy and an amusement. Then it becomes a mistress, then it becomes a master, then it becomes a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster and fling him to the public."
– Winston Churchill
Back in January I was in “Let’s go!” mode.
New year, new goals—ready and willing to knock out some of the many plotlines that have been brewing in my brain awhile.
I’m coming out of my dungeon (closet-office) early one morning after another unsuccessful night of trying to tackle the beast of a story I started almost 3 years ago.
It’s crystal clear in my head, and it should just flow onto the pages like water over a fall.
Instead, it’s moving in a manner more akin to sucking tar through a skinny straw. I’ve got the bulging forehead vein to prove it. Anyhow, out of my dungeon and into the flames with “the Mister” who takes one look at me and says, “Don’t you look crappy.”
Well, nobody wants their (arguable) better half telling them that, no matter how spot on it is at 4 A.M. and she’s just realized that what she’s been writing doesn’t seem to make much sense anymore. I grumbled something back so incoherent I don’t even remember what it was, but I’m sure it suitably conveyed my immense love for him at that particular time.
Even had a special hand gesture to accompany it. After a couple hours of sleep I felt ready to take on the beast again. Into the batcave I go. And again, at some ungodly hour I emerged defeated, only to find him frowning at me.
“What?” Yes, I barked it.
So I turn to the mirror to see what “face” I’m making.
“What’s wrong with my face?”
As it happens I’ve grown rather attached to my face and I like it just fine, thank you very much.
That murderous grimace is hot.”
“I’ve been trying to kill someone, so I guess the ‘face’ isn’t working.” The slight shift away from me did not go unnoticed.
“So, what’s the matter?”
What’s the matter? What isn’t the matter? This was a good five minutes of me ranting about the struggles of a...er...struggling writer, and him interjecting “uh huh” far too calmly to have actually been listening.
To save you the ramble it ended with my declaration of, “It’s starting to piss me off!” What can I say? I don’t like to be pissed off.
“Damn,”—another shift away— “But I thought you loved writing.”
“I do!” See, proof he wasn’t listening. I knew it. File it away, Sable; argue it later.
“So, if it makes you feel that bad, what are you doing it for?” Well played, Mister reverse-psychology on the sleep-deprived girlfriend in a creative funk. Well played.
According to Churchill, this particular writing adventure of mine is hovering in the ether between “master” and “tyrant”. And it’s driving me crazy because I’m a free spirit that doesn’t tolerate well the roles of either.
But that encounter with my unlicensed shrink back in January had me reevaluating some things. Why am I doing this; willingly subscribing to this particular brand of insanity? I’ve got a few reasons.
For starters, it’s great to be the puppet-master, isn’t it? Even though it’s frustrating when the strings knot or break altogether and you’ve got to start again, it’s a lot of fun to drop your characters someplace, toss in a bomb and seeing if they make it out before everything goes Kablooey! *Bwahahahahaha*
Next, there’s the matter of writing my favorite words: The End. It’s satisfying, right? To know you worked through the kinks and overthrew the tyrannical establishment that your words had become. “Rage! Rage against the dying of the light!”
And then with a mighty heave you fling it across the Web to the public, which begins a different sort of servitude with the marketing and promoting but that’s a blog for another day.
My finally reason is the unmatched zing of anticipation that courses through my veins when I start the process all over again and type Chapter 1.
I know I’m about to go back into the belly of the beast and I think I’ve got it figured out this time. I’ve jotted down notes, I’ve got an outline, I’m all set to play with my new toy. I can only hope that I’m better prepared for the monster it will turn into.
Since that day in January I’ve inked roughly five new pages of the story that is the impetus for this post. (I didn’t write much in February, but again, another issue). I’m way beyond the toy stage and far away from killing the monster. I’m hovering.
But I remembered why I started doing this in the first place, and that’s taken some of the stress out of it (and the "murderous grimace"). One of these days I’ll have this creature vanquished. 4a.m. will roll around and, hands raised high, I’ll scream, “I emerge VICTORIOUS!” loud enough to wake Mr. J.
A few days’ll pass and I’ll go back into the cave. I’ll sit down to a blank page and write Chapter 1, and the madness will begin again. Let’s go.
So, I want to know, what are you doing it for?