WARNING: May contain naughty language.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Page 42

If you've tried your hand at writing a novel you may be painfully familiar with the dreaded "Fifty Page" Wall. My sister does marathons and after finishing the Chicago Marathon a few years ago she described to me the Wall she hit around mile 16.

"You're just...done. Finished. Your body says 'Okay. Cool -- thanks for the run, but I'm good now. You can stop.' It confuses your brain."

I've been wrestling with a novel for about two weeks now. It will be something new for me, with much more focus on "hard science fiction" as opposed to some of the alt-urban fantasy and horror I've penned in the past. I'm a huge fan of the genre and have a lot of great books under my belt for inspiration.

I'm much more of a "plotter" than a "seat of the pants" writer. I have all my primary / secondary characters sketched, the plot lines, the conflicts; the whole enchilada ready to roll, written down, not just "in my head."

Yesterday I was cruising along at a good clip, about 1000 words per hour (just words, not final draft words) and was approaching page 39 or so in standard double-spaced manuscript format.

Without warning, that little bastard who hangs out in my reptilian brain stem piped up. "Why are you doing this? It sucks. You suck. I'm not sayin, I'm just sayin..."

Full frickin STOP. I looked at what I'd just written and that asshole was right. It did suck. Complete word salad with a really crappy vinaigrette that tasted like moose butts.

He piled on. "Here be dragons, moron. You'd be better off starting from scratch with a different POV."

I saved the file and started doing something else. Changing lightbulbs, playing with my neurotic dog, bugging my wife; anything but what I was supposed to be doing.

After about 20 minutes, I sat back down and picked up where I left off. Much slower pace, but progress.

I hate the little guy in my brain. He always pulls crap like this. He's a dick. Sometimes he's right, but not often. I just need to learn to tell the difference.

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