Why my “novel” is still on page 20

©2022 Michael Raven

I’ve been writing the same scene over and over again, and deciding it probably will never be quite right. Prelude, except we don’t like the word “Prelude” anymore, so it is not a prelude, but the opening scene in a story that is most imagined in my head, and will probably never see the light of day, mostly because of perfectionist thinking and subpar output.

It twists and turns with each attempt to capture what I am trying to capture, like a snake that refuses to be grasped, wending and winding around my brain to choke until it can slip away. It lingers and, just as I think I have something workable, I wonder if it is appropriate for me, of all people to write about things in the past that have had zero impact on me as the basis for part of the story — although the rot goes deeper than the event as written. As I imagine the tale, the incident at the beginning of the story is but a symptom, not a cause. And that the events preceding the event I am writing about in my not-prelude is another symptom. No one knows what the real problem is, no one alive does anyway. Everything is outfall of a deeper tale that may or may not ever be written — or need to be.

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Knives: digging in the dirt a bit

©2022 Michael Raven

Even though I didn’t directly work on the book I have in my head, I did a ton of writing about it this evening. In fact, I feel pretty darned good about the shape it is taking.

You see, I consider brainstorming, research, and story development to be “working” on the novel, even if I didn’t put down a single word of story into Scrivener. For this part, I prefer to pencil scratch so I can get more visceral about the design, make all kinds of doodles, boxes, arrows, and whatnot. I like a jumbled mess, because if it is too clean-looking, the outline becomes intimidating for me. I feel obligated to use all of the neat notes whereas a scribbled mess is more like an old map I found in a bottle that is less reliable and hard to read, so I’m okay if I go off on a tangent and ignore my previous hard labors.

So I get my hands dirty.

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