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fourth draft

February 2, 2015

so i’ve returned to create a fourth draft of the piece that i brought to banff. i actually sent it out to two agents (at the prompting of an agent friend who made the connections for me and urged me to do it – i did it, terrified and almost grudgingly – for some reason i love writing but want to keep my manuscripts to myself, in a way, which just won’t do if i ever want to make a living off of writing.) and both of them turned it down, but one wrote a really lovely reader’s report with great suggestions and really positive comments. so that didn’t send me into a tailspin – in fact, it made me realise that sending work out like this isn’t that scary and can render fine results.

ostensibly, i know this piece – or pieces of this piece – are good. maisonneuve published an excerpt from it. so did the malahat review. poems inspired by this manuscript have been published in cutthroat magazine, room magazine, event magazine and the hart house review. the ontario arts council gave me $12,000 for this mss. i’m writing this all out not to boast, but to remind myself – sometimes it’s important to see it written down, evidence that the thing you’ve dedicated yourself to for the past few years isn’t shit.

or is it?

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honestly, sitting back down to work on this sent me into a bit of a skid. when i worked on the three other drafts of this manuscript, i had fun. sitting down to write was a little bit of a chore, but nothing close to what it was like to work on my thesis (granted, there were lots of confounding factors that came into play during that badness). but now, i’m having real trouble sitting down and liking what i’m doing. i’m being really hard on myself. i hate the beginning. i hate how much i’m focusing on myself during the narrative. i hate how childish it all sounds. i can’t tell if this is a valid and normal part of the process, or if it means that i need to scrap a majority of this and start again.

yuck. this is starting to feel like the panicky nosedive of my thesis. it’s like when i studied for the LSAT and the one thing my instructor said was “remember to breathe when you’re doing the exam. if you stop breathing, your brain will seize up, you will panic, and you will do poorly.” and then what did i do? i stopped breathing. right now, i’m teetering on the edge of not breathing when it comes down to sitting down to this mss and working – PRODUCTIVELY AND FRUITFULLY – on it. maybe i need to get away again… it seems that removing myself from wherever i normally exist and going elsewhere helps… but i can’t rely on that forever. that’s a crutch.

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anyway, this is a post to open up the dialogue on anxiety and say “hey – even though this piece about the fishing lodge in northern ontario has already got a lot of nods and a few accolades, it’s still driving me FUCKING CRAZY and i kind of hate everything i’ve written so far and is that going to change?” doesn’t mean i’m going to tear up the manuscript. doesn’t mean i’m going to hate it forever. this could just be a weird oscillation and i’ll swing back the other way soon. but right now, it’s driving me batty, and that’s the truth.

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