Last week, as I wrote here, I was feeling happy. I was contented with the fact that I was working—perhaps not well, but consistently—on my manuscript. This week I’m feeling miserable. Mostly it has to do with a severe head cold. Right after workshop last Sunday (where I learned just how much more work I have to do to shore up the first act of my book), I got on a plane to spend a week in a small Midwestern city, recording an orchestra for work. I tried not to let on how miserable I was feeling because I wanted the sessions to go smoothly. My role as a producer simply means I listen very carefully, make suggestions, boost confidences, and make decisions no one else wants to. Despite my constant coughing and nose blowing, the recording did go smoothly. It always does when the right team of composers, engineers, and musicians is assembled. If you’ve prepared correctly, the actual work practically takes care of itself.
Likewise with writing. Often I’ve heard it said that structure is the writer’s best friend. Once you have the structure down, you’re free to do wonders. Alan, our Mark instructor, is doing his best to make sure we have prepared correctly and are confident in our story's structure before moving on to the second and third acts. This is proving a challenge in my case.
Each day this week, I finished a nine-hour recording session, had dinner with the composer or the contractor, then headed back to the hotel to try once again to show Alan, via a revised outline, that I know my story and that I’ve thought thoroughly about my characters and how the plot grows organically from those characters—from their desires, dilemmas, and needs.
I’m still working on this. Each time I revise, I’m making some progress, but it’s frustratingly not enough. I’m dancing here and there at the edge of matters. It seems so simple, but proves not to be. I wish I could blame the Nyquil, but I can’t. I simply still have a lot of work, a lot of thought to do, on the major beats of this story, on these people who populate it.
So I’m keeping this blog post short in order to go mull over this latest version of my story before the Nyquil kicks in for tonight’s head-clearing slumber.