It’s been almost nine months of steady writing, editing writing, editing, and I’m due for a short break.
The reason I know this is because what I’m writing is telling me that.
That last awful chapter I wrote a few days ago. Initial thought was the chapter ending was kind of weak. When going over it, I realized the whole damn thing was weak. Reworked it. Waited a day, reworked it again. Still sucks.
Now I’m thinking that I just need to get rid of the chapter. Not rewrite it. Just get rid of it. Because the more I think about it, the more I realize that it’s just words for the sake of words. Writing for the sake of writing. It doesn’t move the story along perceptibly.
It’s interesting enough, I guess (I’ve already established that Welles’s office phone line is tapped – the majority of the chapter concerns the team of guys who arrive to find and remove the tap. Then a quick trip to Hanritty’s, oh look, there’s Tom Castle who will become important later in the book, and out.). But in the end, it’s just blah blah blah. We don’t need to meet Rafferty, Willie, and Bert, the three specialists who remove the tap. They show up, they do their thing, there’s some chit chat, they leave. Not coming back. Probably never see them again in any Night and Day book. Don’t need to see Tom Castle at this point in the story, since he doesn’t do anything.
My writing is usually pretty good at telling me when there’s a problem. When writing the second Scavenger book, I had what I assume others call “writer’s block” for the first and only time in my life. Hit a point in the book and could not go further. Write a few pages. Throw it away. Write a chapter. Throw it away. Every attempt to move forward sputtered out.
After nearly a month of banging my head against that particular wall, I realized what the problem was – about 20–30,000 words back, the story had gone in an unanticipated way. Just a little zig when it should have zagged. Follow that zig out for 150 pages, and I was in trouble. Nowhere to go. Not telling the story I wanted to tell. So I had to get rid of 150 pages and start again from where I’d gone wrong.
The chapter in question isn’t on the same level. If I left it, it would just be useless. It wouldn’t affect anything down the road. No more than empty, pointless words. But I don’t write just to write. If it’s not telling the story, or adding something to the story, I don’t need it.
I can summarize everything that happened with the guys and the phone tap in about a paragraph or less, at the beginning of the next chapter. Don’t need to bring Tom Castle in at this point. When it’s his time, a paragraph or two for those who either don’t remember him from Night and Day or who didn’t read it.
So I’m on break till Monday or Tuesday. Relaxing. Watching movies. Consuming rather than producing. Then it’s back to work.