It was waiting for me when I came back from vacation.
I walked into the house and felt it there in the dark*, watching me without eyes from the desk. It had been there all along, waiting for me to get home.
It didn’t have to say anything. I knew it was there.
And I knew because I was the one who put it there: that stack of manuscript and notes and index cards, sitting on top of all the other shit on my desk, so it would be the first thing I saw when I re-entered the living room.
Maybe I hoped that I would gain laser vision so I’d be able to incinerate it on sight. No such luck. Now I have to deal with it.
Because it wants to be finished. It wants to be remade. So it’s coming to me like a busted robot coming to its maker, to be re-soldered and have its dents beaten out and maybe get some fancy new laser-guided missile system with which to destroy its enemies.
I’ve written before about the point which comes before a first draft when you have to stop thinking about it and just write the goddamned thing. Turns out it’s the same for rewrites. There comes a moment when the planning and the thinking and the rearranging of characters and settings and events has to end, and the down-and-dirty, key pounding cutting and rewriting must begin. You won’t always know when you’ve reached that point, because it’s ephemeral. It’s different for every project, I think, and definitely different for every writer. But it’s not about knowing that you can rewrite the thing perfectly now. It’s about thinking that maybe you can get through it. And about being sick of looking at the unfinished, gutted mess of it, taking up space on your desk and in your head.
I have reached that point.
You can think about something forever and never feel like it’s finished. And it won’t be, because you never properly started it. The only way to finish your shit is to get off your ass and do it. Until then, it’s a dream.
So, time to take the leap. I’ll see you on the other side of manuscript hell.
*Point of order: I’m a liar. It was actually mid-afternoon when we got back. This is what we call artistic licence. It’s just not as dramatic to write, “I felt it there in the delightfully sunny afternoon light.”