Thursday, 12 May 2016

Courting Insanity?

(image source: Pinterest)

I'm not sure about the monster or the insanity, but it certainly doesn't feel right not to write.

Late last Sunday night (to be honest, it was more like early Monday morning), I finished the first draft of Manuscript 2 (now with a shiny new title). Ever since I feel like I'm in limbo.

A part of me is ecstatic and still in that post-finishing, unbelieving daze of "wow, I wrote a book." It's a fantastic feeling. It's even more amazing with Manuscript 2 than it was with Manuscript 1, mostly because Manuscript 2 is the first part of the epic fantasy I have been chiselling away on for the better part of 10 years. 10 years of daydreaming and I finally have something to show for it. I still need to read it so I'm not quite sure if it is any good, but rest assured that I will continue to chisel until I feel that it is.

While I am floating through the streets with that dreamy smile of seemingly impossible accomplishment, there is another part that doesn't really know what to do with herself. What do non-writers do with their day? What do they daydream about when they don't have a next scene or chapter to consider? My quiet moments (i.e. bus rides, walks,...) have felt really weird because of that. My mind is still lost in the story, and while a part wants to consider ideas for book 2, which will pick up right where Manuscript 1 ended, I know that I'm not ready yet. I have the overarching plot for all 3 books, but book 2 doesn't have an outline to speak of.
It doesn't matter much, because the larger part of my mind is going through the final scenes of part 1 as if they weren't written yet, only to stop and marvel because they are. Which results in an odd pause in my musing. I can almost feel my mind draw a horrified breath as it realises it has no new ideas to consider and starts groping blindly for thoughts and daydreams to float after. It feels empty, like I spent all I had on that manuscript and now I need to dream up something new to fill my head with.

I also found Real Life waiting under a pile of words. It's a strange thing, that Life. I think I spent most of Monday making appointments for various things I neglected the past couple of weeks because I was engrossed in writing. Everything from a hairdresser's appointment, to an overdue service of my bike, to setting aside a morning for some extensive gardening, and, of course, lots and lots of guitar practice. The latter, in particular, suffered from my writing focus. Now I play twice a day. Evenings are incredibly long when you don't sit down to write after dinner. Actual proof that writing does make time go quicker. No wonder I feel like my weekends are over before they begin.

Nice as it is to have all this time, it does not feel right not to write. I have always said writing is a part of me, but this is the first time that I realise just how true that is. There is a hole in my stomach that wants to be filled with words. Reading is a great alternative, but it's not the real deal. Without the clickedy-clack of a keyboard, there is something missing in my life. I feel like I'm cheating on both my characters and myself by not creating. 
Looking at it this way, perhaps I am courting insanity. Though I fear it's more likely that the “sane train” left a long time ago without me.

So, what do I do to placate the monster before I lose my mind completely?
For one, I go on a holiday. My parents will be visiting in a week and we will go on a much needed nature retreat. Fresh air and new sights will give my mind plenty to daydream about. Either way, a break in routine will make it less obvious that the writing is missing.

I'm starting to take notes on things to keep an eye out while editing. Not the obvious grammar and spelling errors, or even word choice, but plot edits. Things like “make place x more gritty”. That way, the part that is reminiscing about the last scenes gets something to do before I start the actual edit. That won't happen for a couple of weeks. The story needs to settle before I can look at it with a less subjective eye.

Lastly, I'm eagerly awaiting the return of Manuscript 1 from one of my test readers, so I can dive into editing that during what has been my writing slot for the last 6 months. I'm equally terrified of getting Manuscript 1 back from my test reader, because it will result in my first feedback. I am a creature of contradictions. Why is it that feedback, good or bad, is both desired and terrifying?

That's the plan for the next couple of weeks. On top of that I hope to have an outline for Manuscript 3 ready by the end of summer. It will be a sequel to Manuscript 1, which I wrote during last year's NaNoWriMo. The plan is to repeat that success – and this time I will come prepared.

Busy times ahead, but I love every minute of it!

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