Saturday, August 28, 2010

Writing fears: Commitment

Raise your hand if you're in Revisionland...

Actually, nevermind.  You don't need to raise your hand because I'll be able to tell you by the wild look in your eyes, the pale stretched skin, and the slight tremor in your hands.  Revisionland is a harrowing place!  In a recent conversation with a friend of mine about a major overhaul of several chapters, I told him, "Yesterday I slit open the belly of my story.  Today, I'm supposed to sew it all back up neatly, but the blood is still gushing and it's so disfigured I can't even see where to begin."

Revising is bloody business.

You want to know the worst part of Revising?  It's all about commitment.  Raise your hand if you're afraid of commitment.  Nevermind again.  I'll be able to tell you by your hand wavering halfway between raised and down.  Your eyes looking up, wondering "am I afraid of commitment?  Well...sometimes...maybe?"

Self-revelation time: I'm afraid of commitment.  Not so much in the traditional sense of the commitment-phobic stereotype in relationships.  I just find myself unable to commit to any decision.  I can't make decisions.  Seriously, it's pathological.  When David and I are in the video store, I make him hold the movies behind his back and I pick an arm.  When I'm at a restaurant, I have to flip a coin to decide which menu-item I'm going to eat.

Unfortunately for me, the task of writing a novel (or short story or novella or movie or TV show...) involves making an infinite number of decisions.  And the kicker: committing to them.

So, back to the exposed, gushing, disemboweled belly of my story.  The problem is that I have too many ideas, and I have to DECIDE which one is best.  This is a big problem.  I was speaking to the same sage friend mentioned above and he said, "Making decisions in your book is just like making decisions in life.  You have to trust that you are doing the right thing in life.  You have to trust that your character is doing the right thing in the book.  Whatever your character is doing is the right thing."

Armed with that advice, somehow I was able to weed through the giant mountain of ideas and find the one diamond.  Story-belly is mostly sewn up now and I think it's time for a drink!, what type of drink should I have...?  Oh dear. :(


  1. You and I have much in common - besides Vera's blueboards. :) Anyway, I'm a horrible decision maker and once I realized I was stumbling over that specific character trait with my writing, my "revisionland" became a happier place. Here's hoping for a less "bloody" writing days in days to come.

  2. Is your sage friend the one who would tell you to drink something like tea??? :-)

  3. Hey, writing anything at all is more than most would-be writers get around to. I just saw some new-age hypnotherapist on the web last night saying that for every decision you make, there's another you in a new universe living the option you did not choose. I hope that's not true because I would feel sorry for all the me's who made a worse choice and be jealous of all those who got a better outcome than I did. OTOH, if that's true, then it really doesn't matter which choices you make when you're deciding your character's path. Somewhere, the other choice will be lived out as well. Yes, it's creepy. But it can also be liberating.


  4. I have to say I am completely the same, but I am, however true to my star sign - Libra!

    I have truoble buying chocolate bars, so I have to buy both!(or three or four!! ha ha!)

    This is why I have trouble getting on with anything, because I just can't decide what to do next in my day!

    I full heartidly sympathise with exactly how to struggle with the decision making!

    Now as to the drink - mine is a cuppa tea - but wish that it was a glass of red! ;)


  5. Wow. Wayyy behind on the comments. Sorry!

    BB: Bloody writing days...prognosis looks good! :)

    LC: No, that sage friend is the one who'd tell me to drink something like a double long island iced tea! :P It was Nathaniel if you can believe it! :)

    MC: There was just a movie that came out about that in...France I think? I looked ridiculous - the movie I mean. But actually, when I was a kid, believing that actually was the only reason I could ever make decisions at all. As long as I could believe that another me in another universe was still out there doing the other choice, I was alright. :)

    Abz: My boyfriend just got me a magic 8ball ap on my phone. Helped immensely! haha :)

    Thanks for the comments guys! :)

  6. I would love a real magic 8 ball, that would do the trick for me methinks!!:)


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