Friday, December 7, 2012

Perspective//New Problems Are Good Problems

It's amazing how time and distance can grant perspective, especially when you're trying to revise a manuscript that's Just Not Working.

I'm the kind of person who struggles to accept anything that's Just Not Working. Call it hardheadedness, a stubborn streak several miles wide, whatever, but I'm a grit-my-teeth-til-it-gets-done sorta person. And for the most part, it's worked well for me.

But not lately. Not in my writing. I've been trying to get a choke-hold on some perspective for months now.

But the thing about perspective is you can't tackle it, pin it, make it tap. It yields to no one, no matter how ugly a face you make at it or what names you call its momma.

Lately the feelings of impatience and behindness (today a word) have been suffocating. Why can't I finish this manuscript? Why does this thing still stink to high heaven? Why can't I query yet? Why why why why followed by a thousand general internal boo-hoos and lamentations. My cousin's a psychologist, and after a very general Hi-how-are-you?-oh-I'm-frustrated conversation, she encouraged me to write down exactly what I thought my problem was in hopes it would spark a solution. It didn't take me long to come up with the following:

My problem is me and my manuscript that refuses to go all Handyman Dan and fix itself already.

Stubborn as I may be, actually writing and reading those words made me realized what was necessary. I needed perspective, and the only way to get that was through some time and distance. Both of which I hate. There's nothing worse than idle hands when you're trying to be productive. But then I finally realized something. Trying to fix my manuscript without knowing what, exactly the problem was (or which new direction to take) was about as productive as repeatedly running into the same wall. So I gave in. Stuck the story, which in a fit of temper frustration got renamed THAT DAMN BOOK, in the proverbial drawer and didn't even open the file for two months. Did my best to forget about the thing and anything associated with it. Piddled around and wrote something else for NaNo that hasn't really gone anywhere but that's okay.

A few days ago, I reopened THAT DAMN BOOK. Read a little, made a some notes. Realized where I went wrong, developed a couple potential solutions and decided to just start over from a clean slate. I'm about 10k in now and I can already see the improvement. I'll run into new problems I'm sure, but I can guarantee I won't have the same issues as I did with the first version. And that's learning for me: not screwing up the same way twice.

All it took was a lot of patience, a bit of time and some damned old perspective.


How's everybody else doing? How'd NaNo go? Hope it's all bueno :)

Currently listening to The Perishers//My Heart

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