Chapter 32 may be long remembered as the one that got away. After four nights and just shy of 5,000 words, I think I can finally put it behind me (for now), but it’s taken its toll.
A lot of how I feel about all this is the fault of the ease with which I’ve been able to settle into the writing life again. I’ve been remarking to everyone how amazingly things have gone, how smooth its all felt, how quick the transition was from moving in to writing full-time. Everything’s been a piece of cake, so the slightest change in the wind looks like a big problem. And compared to serious writer’s block or something truly problematic, it’s not at all. It’s just a vaguely exasperating series of things to write.
It’s hard to discuss exactly what’s frustrating about this chapter without divulging far too much of a plot I’ve kept close to the vest for over half a decade. But a lot of it’s about pacing and timing and trying to cram a whole lot of events into a small space when I haven’t necessarily been on a pace to do so. To make it seem smooth and effortless and intended. To realize that one has written oneself into a bit of a corner and then figure out how to delicately extricate without rewriting half the book.
Ultimately, it’s good for me. Every word written makes you stronger, even if most of those words will probably be rewritten. The chapter felt less elegant, less muse-inspired, pretty much throughout. There were some good turns of phrase and some moments, sure, but it’s just not my best work. On a first draft, though, holding the whole piece to the standard of best work means blowing deadlines. And today is significant on that front: exactly 2 months to the day till the deadline. December 15th or bust, come what may.
The context for the whole chapter is probably a big part of it – it just hasn’t been the best week. Coaching hit some of the first snags, with a low-energy meeting punctuated on either end by low attendance and frayed nerves leading to rising tensions. It all came out okay (I think – we’ll see for sure at tomorrow’s meeting), but my hopes of a potential break this weekend were mitigated somewhat by the surprise announcement that this weekend’s tourney is breaking to semis, not quarters. I didn’t know any tournaments on APDA had broken to less than quarters in some time, so this was quite a shock and one I don’t relish discussing with the team tomorrow. Not that it precludes breaking; it just makes it twice as difficult.
And Em’s sick, given a cold in exchange for her (conventional, not swine) flu shot. Despite the protestations of the injectors, it’s pretty common knowledge that the flu shot gives people cold symptoms and these have hit Em particularly hard this go-round. I’ve been dancing on the edge of catching it from her, but hoping to escape healthy by the time we (the Rutgers team and I) head up to Vassar on Friday. The whole thing has brought our collective home morale down even further though, and it was already on the wane.
It’s just been one of those weeks, more headaches than necessary, writing like pulling teeth, anticipation of everything weighing me down a little. I need to get out and do more, but it’s getting colder and making retreat the more likely response. It’s weeks like this that I’m so grateful to not be working, since at least I can find solace in bulldozing the writing problems in front of me and working through things rather than the dissatisfaction of frustration reminding me how far I am from my life goals. And I’m not much closer, and feeling it, but at least I’m starting on the path. Which is good enough for now.
I just need to set some limits on how I distract myself, on how I keep my focus and stay sharp. Up till this week, it’s been easy, so it can be easy again. But the last couple days, nothing’s felt easy. It’s all been pulling teeth and the desire to pull hair. And now I’m repeating myself and probably frustrating you too.
Join the freaking club. Augh.