I am fed up with writing this week. Right up to my back teeth. So I’m recycling a post from my old blog, Paris Empire. It kinda sums up the hole I’ve fallen into with my revisions. Sigh. Why, oh why, do I never learn?!
My dear, perpetually half-finished, First Act,
This has been on my mind a while now, so I'm just going to come right out and say it ...
We have a toxic relationship, a sick co-dependency, you and I. Like that of enabler/enablee, or drug addict/dealer ... yes, yes, I can hear you tutting beneath your breath; but whatever psycho-babble label might apply, it is clear that you are my addiction and my vice and that for the sake of the manuscript, not to mention my sanity, I must break free of your seductive clutches.
Oh, but you're a hard habit to break. The intoxication of finishing you for the first time is still such a sweet memory. You were complete, you were just as I had envisioned you would be ...
You were perfect.
Thus it was time for us to part. I felt a pang at letting you go, but you were strong, and I had every confidence you could stand on your own two feet without me.
But you would not let me go. You hounded me, day and night, with frantic whispers … you'd fallen apart, your meticulously woven tapestry of elegant prose now resembled a moth-eaten dish rag, your plot, once water-tight in its logic, now leaked credibility like a sieve. You would be so, so much better if only I'd come back, you sobbed. If only I'd re-write you. Again.
Ego stroked, I dumped poor Act Two without even a farewell kiss and back I went to you. I could not ignore you - you are, after all, my first love.
So I tinkered once more with your opening chapters. Started in medias res, started with dialogue, started on a train, started with a fight, started in Paris, started in London, started with my villain doing his evil worst ... Every time I'd come close to finishing, convinced that this time I'd got you exactly right, you'd lay on the guilt - "Don't leave me! I'm a much better First Act when you're around. Stay, and make me perfect."
I re-wrote you, again and again and again, adding and subtracting scenes like a woman possessed. And maybe I was. Possessed with the notion that I must write the perfect first act before I could move on.
But now, after weeks of chasing after you, round and round and round, I ... I ... I just can’t do it any more. The scales have fallen from my eyes, and I see you for what you are - my needy, whining, sanity-destroying, writing-crutch.
I will never move forward, into Act Two, if I keep working on you.
I will never finish this manuscript if I keep working on you.
I will never, ever, discover whether I can actually finish - properly finish - a whole damn novel, if I keep working on you.
So I'm breaking up with you until the book is done.
Aw, don't cry. It's not you - it's me.
You'll be fine, my brilliantly flawed First Act. You're stronger than you think. And I'll be back when it's time for the next round of revisions.
But for now, it's a definite "adieu".
Rachel[ETA: Well, it’s not all bad news. I spent today making myself learn Scrivener (I did so two months ago, then did nothing with it and forgot everything), and all I can say is that it is AWESOME. With it, I’m confident I’ll be busting out of Act One, and out of this slump, by the end of the week. Of course, sorting out a few little issues, such as finally deciding I have to change POV – from first to limited third – has also helped with the slump-busting, but that’s a post for another day ... :-)]