I am so frustrated about the new book I am working on, I can barely force myself to sit down to work on it. If I were not in a master’s program, with this my thesis project, I would have scrapped it long ago. I think, by nature, I’m good at weaving a fun story with fun characters. My dialogue works and I build tension and create plausible situations that are entertaining.
In this book, I am trying to accomplish something more than just telling a story. I’m trying to weave dance philosophy and insight into the damn thing in artistic ways, which keeps messing up the story. Yet, without this didactic garbage, I feel the book reads like cheap commercial fiction –which I swear, I’m cut out to do – and I believe I will be successful at – but doesn’t stretch my technical skill in a way necessary to grow.
I received my monthly response from my mentor today. She said my last submission included the most “successful and engaging chapters submitted so far.” She also added, “You’ve had my attentions from the get-go, and you kept it throughout. What really made the difference in these chapters is that you remained in scene almost exclusively. . . . a lot happens…”
Well, of course a lot happens. A lot happens in all my books – EXCEPT this one. Clearly, my attempts at being “literary” are falling short – an affected imitation of obscure literature. Blah Blah Blah. I need to stop preaching and just write a story about dance. It is just so hard to unravel what I’ve woven into the story so far. Every scene was written to support the darn critical essays about dance – so removing them makes me feel the internal motivation of my character isn’t going to be real for the reader.
What a sticky wicket.
My first mentor liked the “voice” of those essays passages, but also questioned whether or not they belonged. Now, I am hearing, basically, the same advice again, just said in a different way. Gee – if you hear something more than once, you have to listen. So, I need to sit down, read the entire manuscript and start slashing. (Sigh) I need to let this book be what it is, and stop trying to force it to be what I want it to be.
I can’t wait to finish this project. I want go back to my second historical. I want to write a book that makes me laugh and sigh. I want to fall in love with my hero as I pull his puppet strings to make him an admirable man that is significant in the lives of others. I want to step out of my world, my life, and go somewhere new, back in time, where romance, innovation and courage touches the lives of those who need it. (Going back to the dance world is not a fun escape for me. Sad but true.)
I have lost enthusiasm for writing this month. That is not like me. I’ve been thinking it is because of spring, or because of other personal issues, but really, I think it’s just that this book doesn’t excite me. It actually makes me tired. Annoyed.
I’ve received lots of positive, encouraging commentary from my teachers that make me feel I have promise as a writer. I just have to channel my energy, my instinct and my creative juices to the subjects that inspire me. And brings me joy. The entire point of writing is not to accomplish something specifically – but to do what I love – without fear or expectation.
Thank God I am pursuing my MFA, however, because it keeps me at the grindstone, forcing me to maintain a degree of discipline that will mold the writer lurking inside of me – like it or not.
I guess, the book I am working on now is like eating my spinach. But man o man – what a bitter taste it has lately.