On Why our Books are still Unfinished (a rather witty take on the process of writing novels) – Part 1

the-novel

I’m awesome at making plots. I do think that it is my strength as an aspiring writer. *takes off confidence coat.*

Thinking about the plots that I have created makes me excited and mentally busy for days. Most of the time, I find myself thinking of the storyline and the characters as I sit on a moving vehicle or before I go to sleep at night. No, all these consume me from morning till night and even up to those hours when I’m asleep. The excitement however cannot be easily translated the moment I put my hands on the keyboard.

As I began to write a manuscript, I learned one thing about writing books: IT’S SO DANG HARD TO FINISH ONE!!!

(Sorry for sounding so casual. Kindly allow me to write in a casual, friendly way.)

As I try to finish my manuscripts, I begin to see what makes it so difficult and time-consuming to put that story from mind to words.

***

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1. I cannot find the right word. (And even with dictionaries, that one word needs much digging to be found.)

In one of my stories, I arrived to a paragraph wherein I had to describe a certain piece of jewelry. Right, it’s symbolic and it holds an amount of the story in its hands. IT IS AN IMPORTANT PIECE and I cannot accept not being able to describe it in a way that when the story reaches its last pages, it will carry such depth that people might go buy that jewelry. *I dream like that.* So I began by picturing it in my head. So beautiful! It sparkles in a classy way, my dear. It was so vivid in my mind; It must be the same in the book. I began with some very basic words: gold, circle, some kind of a white gem. Of course, I was disgusted. You cannot say, “it was a gold circle made of something white”. EVEN ELEMENTARY STUDENTS CAN WRITE THAT. I then opened a new tab on the internet and typed “gold necklace”. Seeing the pictures, I realized that the jewelry in my head is quite different, it’s going to be hard to look for such beauty. I tried to be more specific so I typed “white pendant” and all these pearly necklaces screamed through the screen. NOOOOOOOOOO! It’s not made of pearls. No! No! No! I resorted to looking for the kind of gem I was thinking of. “White gem”, I typed. Google gave me a list of stones as if I have to learn all of them. My patience was starting to grow pangs.

My dear, I finished that one heck of a paragraph! Hurray! However, it took me a great 30 minutes or so to finish it and there I realized that writers do have a terrible deal of mess to handle and sometimes, the dictionary just couldn’t quickly help. *To date, that is the longest time I’ve consumed in writing one single paragraph and I’m sure there will be longer periods such as when I come to a point where I need to describe a house, a mountain or a whole new world. Phew!

***

2. The characters keep on developing.

I love my characters especially those on whom I’ve poured portions of myself: my thoughts, my feelings, my beliefs, just many important pieces of me. I have a story which was born back when I was very young. I was in the 6th grade if I can remember well. It was a single storyline about a young guy who has an emotionally-distant relationship with his father. The story revolves around how the guy does everything to gain his father’s approval and how his father plays with his emotions to get the most out of him for his ambitious and selfish goals. This one story multiplied into more stories about more people in different circumstances that were derived from my personal life as I grew from being an elementary student to the woman that I am today. My characters grow as I grow and I have differing thoughts on this: First is that it feels so magical to actually be able to create a world out of your own life. Second is I fear it would take so long for me to finish the story because I keep on growing and I know this story will too.

***

powerful-adjectives

3. The adjectives just won’t do their job.

I recently came across a table that listed how to avoid using the word “very”. Very eager, very angry, very worried. Dear, we gotta throw those off the window! So how do I write about this certain character remembering a certain very important thing that makes him very worried and very disappointed, pushing his pulse to a very fast beat, and making him trip down the stairs in a very comedic manner? *Oh gawd!*

Sometimes, I do run out of words and the car needs to go to the gasoline station.

***

chasing

4. When the urge to write comes when you are far from anything to write on.

This happens to me a lot. I don’t understand what magic a moving vehicle does to me but when I’m in there, especially just by the window seeing all the other cars, the clouds and buildings, my mind gets filled by scenes of a couple talking, an imagery of a city from a rooftop, or questions on how the conflicts would be solved. Somebody throw me a laptop! The sad thing is, the moment I arrive home, I am no longer in the right emotional and mental condition to write those thoughts.

***

images

5. The problem you’ve created has gotten too crazy for resolution!

The way I weave stories is like frying something and putting salt, sugar, olives, garlic, onion, pepper, curry powder, and rosemary, maybe even coffee beans in the mix. I get too excited, don’t I? For a long time, I’ve always believed that I should and ONLY should write something complicated and very complex. I had this childish belief that simple stories such a “a young, simple girl getting the heart of a rich man” won’t be successful in the literary world, that I have to put a lot of twist, a lot of suspense and gripping scenes in the story for it to be accepted and thoroughly read. So for the longest time, I’ve been mixing all those peppers and curry powder together and am yet to garnish it with basil leaves. Oh, how would that even taste? Now, I’ve put myself (and my poor characters) into so much trouble, how could we ever get out of here?

***

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6. I’m probably still learning how to love a simple but BEAUTIFULLY WRITTEN story

Books nowadays are literal roller coasters. Almost. They introduce us to this oddly regular main character who lives in an out-of-this-world climactic world, surrounded by more regular characters who need to face life-changing challenges to survive. As they strive to endure each day, another situation pops out and we tiptoe to peek on what’s going to be on fire on the next chapter. Another villain bids a friendly hello and there lay five more characters who die in the climax. Everything nowadays is chaotic and fast-paced. Everybody wants an action-packed read; only a few would still sit under a tree reading every line in a romantic way. Part of me always wanted to create a story full of sub-plots and with plenty of characters. Sometimes, I have this foolish feeling that effort is seen in bulkiness. But eventually, I slightly fell out of love for books that have too many things happening and too many characters interacting with one another. I wanted to give my heart, mind and time to only a few characters who are beautifully developing before my eyes through words that were written by master’s hands, not just another person who has another story to tell. As one who is aspiring to have her name on people’s shelves, I am also more drawn to stories that were written with utmost care, thought and consideration.

***

My dream work space looks something like this. *Yeee!!!

My dream work space looks something like this. *Yeee!!!

7. The computer is not with you enough.

I simply don’t have a computer. Period. I do make ways to be able to update my manuscripts but I’d dearly love those days when I could have my own laptop and bring it with me everywhere because inspiration to write comes without word at all and sometimes, you just want to stay in a park, blurring the crowd with that world in your head.

***

Photo credit: Jackie Lea Sommers

Photo credit: Jackie Lea Sommers

8. Time is not enough.

This is for those moments when the keyboard could go burning in intense typing. LOL! There are just days when all the words flow like my favorite creamy raspberry tea on a hot summer day. Those days, I want to do nothing except write my stories. Please! LEAVE ME ALONE! The challenge is, it sometimes gets hard to squeeze writing in between your daily routine especially when it involves being in the office for most of the time of the day.

***

I have more or less 8 fiction and non-fiction books to finish and I usually see myself swinging from one book to another. There were days when a few chapters were done in an hour then a few months would go by with me neglecting one book while putting so much thought time on the others. When I was young, I thought writing books would be as easy as merely thinking about the stories over cereal. Now that I’m in the process of writing, I want to snatch that bowl of cereal away from my old self and tell her to grow up fast. On the other hand, as the words flow and the books get sculpted piece by piece, I only find myself wanting to do it more and more and more. Maybe next time, the bowl should be filled with crispy words to chew instead.

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3 thoughts on “On Why our Books are still Unfinished (a rather witty take on the process of writing novels) – Part 1

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