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Needs More Cowbell

September 9, 2012

Not a lick of work done on the book in a while, for a number of reasons. First off, I’ve been putting most of my morning energy into my paying work, and when that’s done the tank is empty. Secondly, I’ve been missing my “motive power” outside of getting my work done. They say you only have X amount of willpower per day and once I’ve done my paying work and gone to the gym and got my homework done, there isn’t anything left in me that can say, now let’s do some far-seeing things like control our eating better and write a novel. My weight loss was stuck for nearly two months and now to my horror the weight is creeping up again ever so slightly. I go a week eating whatever I want, sick to death of being hungry and having to make the “right choice” again and again, and I stay at 212 for a week, then I resolve to eat right, get the dial moving the right way again, which holds up for three days, at the end of which I’m 214 and I collapse…it wears me out. Like anything with me, the novelty of being my own man and living in a new house where everything is walkable worked to knock 25 pounds off, but now it’s a grind and that is where I’m stumbling.

I am (probably by now completely irrationally) still holding on to my October hotel reservation in NYC because I need something to look forward to even if it’s probably not going to be financially doable. The fall preview is in the Times today and I am simultaneously excited and depressed about all the wonderful things coming up that I’m probably going to miss. And I’m not sure what I’ll be doing for a living after this work winds up at the end of next week, so that grinds away at me too.

So, yeah, a lot of distractions. All the same, I have had some thoughts about the book, more retrospective than forward-looking. I know that it’s thin in places:

  • I have to do more to show why Caroline is lonely, even in “nerd school.” In the real gifted kids school I visited, the stories were about people like Caroline who were bullied and miserable in normal schools, but found paradise in the new one. The only thing I can think is that there are kids like Caroline, even there, who are still misfits, but it’s the perfect SAT kids on the orderly march to fellowships and internships at Google as they build ever vaster social and professional networks who are the ones who get presented to the public. So more of my rantings about the disorderly march, of which there are many, need to get culled and inserted there.
  • I have to do more with Alex, to make him “bigger” in the second part of the book. Right now I only have a couple pages of where he’s disappointing to Caroline and hints about how big he is in the culture in the lecture speeches. I think people either already love Alex after part 1, or fuggedabout it, but I need to really show how he’s been corrupted for people to care about whether or not he gets rescued from the Three Initial Corporations.
  • I abandoned Caroline’s family for the most part, they having served their purpose, but honestly I love Caroline’s dad and I want him back in the story at some point in an important way. Talk about literally creating your own family – I guess he’s the dad I’d have liked to have, and that makes him I know a dad a lot of people would want.
  • I know the tone shifts from the beginning through the book, and I need to synthesize that, but that’s easy peasy when it’s all done. One of the many advantages of not being a “sentency” writer! I think I was self-conscious when I rebooted about marketing, this idea that I was going to “pitch” it as a YA book, whereas now I’m pretty much fuck it on the whole waiting F O R E V E R on agents and editors and publication, so I don’t need to worry about what shelf it’ll sit on because I’m going digital.

But, right now I feel like all that is “needs more cowbell.” I.E., if I can focus on the things that I am worst at, to wit a satisfying ending, if I can get Caroline and Nick together in a believable way and resolve Alex’s future in the world, then I can go back and fix the hair and makeup. I need to build confidence in myself and my story by getting the bones of it done, even at the expense of said bones looking thinly covered for now. Once I can look back and say holy shit I finished it and it works, I can easily, with said confidence in hand, go back and make it better. This is why I firmly recommend abandoning and rejecting all writing advice while you’re working, and never ever ever asking for advice on unfinished work. Everybody has some way of writing that’s different from yours, or they are just blowhards who will take the opportunity to pontificate and punch holes in anything anyone does, and they will tell you how you have to stop everything and do this and that to make your story something it’s not. Or as Morrissey said so well, “there’s always someone somewhere with a big nose who knows, and who’ll trip you up and laugh when you fall.”

So: get this current job done, pray for financial rain, and try and figure out what I need to get restarted on the book and how to get it.

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