Monday, April 21, 2014

Abstract Thoughts: May I See Your Blog Pass Please?

Brilliance from the Idea Salesman
I swear, sometimes I feel like I've become nothing more than a glorified hall monitor around here.

Renee, stay in your seat and keep your hands on the keyboard.

Muse, quit daydreaming and focus. Also, stop writing new opening scenes on the bathroom walls.

No, Renee, you cannot be excused; stay in your seat.

IE, I appreciate your love of all things spreadsheety--and I certainly don't want to discourage a female student's interest in any mathematics and technology oriented fields--but please do your homework for Timelines and Story Structure 101 during someone else's class.

Renee, no, you cannot run away screaming and flailing. There's no running in the halls.

Seriously, it's crazy time up here in Renee's head. And somehow I'm the guy who is supposed to be holding the whole thing together.

This isn't really my job. I'm supposed to be managing the business. You know, writing queries, networking at conferences, managing the social media platform. That kind of thing. But then someone went and pointed out that we didn't have a project manager and if I ever wanted to get my hot little abstract hands on a completed anything to sell, I'd better find someone to keep track of the to-do lists.

Unfortunately, no one wanted the job. And I very stupidly assumed I could handle it myself anyway.

At first is wasn't so bad. Set up a few deadlines here and there, prod everyone into punching the time clock at the appropriate times, keeping the workspace clean and organized. No big deal. When things are going well, it's easy to keep everyone on track.

Turns out people are a lot less cooperative when things aren't going so well.

The Muse, despite multiple conversations about why it would be a VERY BAD IDEA, wants to go back and rewrite the beginning of the story to reflect the new change in structure. She just has so many "wonderful ideas".

The Inner Editor, being very focused on outlines and planning, has been spending a lot of time distracting Renee with spreadsheets that shuffle the remaining scenes around to accommodate the potential changes the Muse wants to make.

Renee is convinced we're never going to finish the book now. It's just going to keep getting bigger and bigger, growing and expanding as it consumes everything in its path like some kind of literary version of the Blob, and no matter how many times we stab it, it's never going to die.

And all the while the Critic just sits in her cage and laughs and laughs and laughs.

By last Friday I was ready to explode. We were all running around flailing our arms and screaming and in the meantime, you know how much writing we were doing? None. Nothing was getting done. It's the classic trap, isn't it? Spending so much time worrying about the writing that you don't actually get to the writing.

So we all agreed to shut up and sit down for a little family meeting. I gave the Muse 20 minutes to write down all her ideas about the new beginning she's got in mind and we saved that stuff so it's ready come revisions time. I gave the Inner Editor another 20 minutes to tweak the outline for going forward. And I let Renee have 20 minutes to play with her calendar so she could see that even with the extra work, this novel is not going to go on forever.

Maybe it wasn't the most productive hour we've ever spent at the keyboard, but I'm hoping it pays off going forward. Maybe now that we've gotten all our worries and ideas and plans down on the page, we can just move the fleurk on with writerly life.

Just as soon as we get back from vacation, that is. Did I mention Renee's got some travel plans coming up? Because we totally have time for Spring Break right now.

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