Saturday, November 21, 2015

Plotland's False Promise

Sad to say but believing I had achieved the Plotland peak turned out to be a misinterpretation for, when I looked around, I found there was more of a climb than I ever knew.

In the last two weeks I've managed to add another fifteen thousand words to the novel I thought was "finished" just a short while ago.  I still haven't reached the "end" of my Plotland journey, which is where I can have some certainty that all the threads have finally been tied off, although my life seldom has any threads that can be knotted; many come unraveled and push that narrative further.

I didn't set out to resolve all the plot lines, nor did I anticipate how many there would be. Neither did I imagine that a single, small detail would loom so large at what i thought was the end and require addressing explicitly.

Honestly, I set out to write a short story, that turned into a novella, and then into a small (unfinished) novel, each agonizing step of the Plotland saga described earlier on these pages.

Now I am at a stage where resolving that tiny detail will require going back and "adjusting" the preceding eighteen chapters, changing some events, and introducing new pieces to explain the explanation that seems to have developed.  I seem to have fallen into an iterative loop where alteration of any detail is like stepping on a God-damned Jurassic butterfly.

This is not a new phenomenon for me; I often fiddle with short stories, moving the furniture around to get the right effect, or even introducing bits where  needed.  But doing with with something as long as a novel feels different: there are so many moving parts, so many actions and results, and too many characters mucking about instead of behaving properly.   If I hadn't written another short story this month I probably would have gone insane. But then, being alone in a dark room with only your imagination and muse as company does sort of put me in that category

Do all novelists go through this agony?

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