disintegration (chapter 31, part 1)

(image courtesy Amintore Fanfani)

Here it is, the first part of the last chapter of my novel, What Would Water Do.  After this chapter, it’s done, I’m done, and I’m not sure how I feel about that.  A mixture of amazement, sadness, and boredom, I guess.  Amazed that I did it, sad that I didn’t do more with it, and frankly bored by the whole thing.  

I know, I know, writers are not supposed to say things like this, for the same reason a mother is not allowed to look at her child with anything other than a proud smile, eyes brimming with tears of loving happiness; it’s just unprofessional. I’m always supposed to pretend like my writing is a beautiful, fascinating genius.  

It’s not a good feeling, to fall out of love with one’s own writing.  After almost 70,000 words, I was hoping to work myself up to something more than a yawn.  

Does this happen to everyone or just me?  

*

Their last writing group meets at the heart of historic Hollywood at the Starbucks on the corner of Highland and Franklin Avenues.   Their final discussion is a summary of the highlights from previous meetings.  Drew has been talking for several minutes because she knows that when she stops they will say goodbye and they will move apart in various directions like matter disintegrating in water and that they probably never meet again.  

“Sometimes you find that you chose the wrong person to write about.  Sometimes you write all the way to the end just to discover that some other character has emerged as the real star of the show, or that it adds up to nothing, or that nobody cares.  If the ending doesn’t hurt a little then, as writers, we failed.”  Wayne would surely have asserted something clever if he were here.  She looks at these thoughtful faces around the table:  Isabella’s kissable red lips and ebullient cleavage; Kinko, so goofy and pimply and stoned you just want to pull his skinny ass into your lap and feed him with a spoon;  Karen, who probably wouldn’t stop smiling if her poncho caught on fire; Aiden, who has clearly been working out at the gym and who, she must admit, was a great kisser;  and Liz, who juggles motherhood and a full-time job and somehow managed to show up for the group half the time.  And Drew herself, wearing denim and tweed for her last appearance as Writers Group Leader.  She takes a deep breath and tries not to cry.   

Isabella’s screenplay was optioned by Finn Cameron, the famous rockstar/writer/actor/producer/director, so they spend the rest of their time together pumping Isabella for details before the final hug goodbye and promise to stay in touch and it’s over.

Drew walks alone to her car thinking about Mae Beacon, the poster girl for the power of optimism, with all the prizes to show for it, including her Oscar for best female lead in Deep Water, a bestselling autobiography, and a beautiful baby boy, whose first tabloid pictures fetched more than three million dollars.  Drew stuffs her hands deep into her coat pockets and walks slowly.  She’s in no rush.  These days, she has plenty of time to think.

 

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About girl in the hat

aka Anna Fonté, writer of novels, short stories, personal essays, and bits about the neighborhood crows. The things I write want you to look at them.

39 comments

  1. Oh Anna, this is the first bit I’ve read and I want to read more.

    I thought we were supposed to think our writing was crap all the time .Or is that just me?

    • Ha. If I thought my writing was boring all the time, I would switch to photography or quilting or something like that. I’m more of the type to look in the mirror, screw up my eyes real tight, and decide I look pretty good for my age. (Just don’t surprise me with the mirror. I need time to screw my eyes real tight.)

      This sudden horror is really bad. If you think it’s all crap, then how do you go on?

  2. gailytr

    oh dear, his is making me sad, you must be doing your job.

  3. I try not to worry about whether my writing is good or bad, just get it out there! Later I can try to be objective (if I were a reader, would I be interested? Intrigued? Put off by something?) and then I edit it according to that. Your story is about a writer’s group; are you in one in real life? A good one can really help with advice and support. (I need one myself now that I have moved again!) – best of luck!

    • Writing groups are a very good idea. I finally found one a couple months ago– it’s a new group, so we’ll see if we can make it work. I hope so. What I really need is an editor!

      • Anna, about needing an editor — that first chapter I wrote a couple weeks ago benefitted greatly from some critique Lisa over at The Story River gave me. One friend to another, she offered to read it and tell me what she thought. Her insights and impressions threw a light on it for me that opened up the work, and (becauase it needed it) I easily wove in another 900 words and plan to get back to it as soon as I can. I was excited before, because the story is close to my heart, but with her illuminating critique, I’m even more excited now.

        My point is that she does this professionally and because I have some experience with how she goes about it, I recommend her highly. She’s honest, straightforward, and she loves the art of writing. Here’s a link to the page on her site that has more info: http://thestoryriver.com/outlaw-creek-editing-services/ If you still want an editor, tell her I sent you and see if you two can work something out. (I think you two would really get along!)

        • Oh, Re– I bet it feels enlightening to have a spotlight turned on you like that– how exciting! I love Lisa’s writing and I’m sure she’s a fabulous editor. When I win the lottery, I’ll hire her on the double.

  4. Marc Schuster

    Boredom definitely happens to me when I’m writing, especially toward the end of a long project! My strategy is usually to put it aside for a while and then come back to it with fresh eyes a few months later.

    • Aha! So perhaps it is just a side effect to the process, no reflection on the quality of writing. Perhaps we could even go so far as to say that the more bored you are, the better it is? (*wink*) Thanks for the empathetic words!

  5. Love this. (publishing?)
    I write plays and when I have to go back and edit I am suddenly annoyed with every character and their choices. Plus, I’m just wondering what will be the catalyst to my being able to say, ” I’m a writer.”

  6. Hi Anna, These very real words and feelings below touched me deeply. Brave and honest. Makes me want to know more about YOU. As far as your novel I haven’t been reading it all along so I can’t say to much. On writing groups. I’ve been in several. They have all served me in some way. Right now, I’m not in one and enjoying the time to myself.. I agree with Marc. Sometimes you juts have to get away from it for a bit. Good job! YOU WROTE A NOVEL!!!! That’s huge.

    Here it is, the first part of the last chapter of my novel, What Would Water Do. After this chapter, it’s done, I’m done, and I’m not sure how I feel about that. A mixture of amazement, sadness, and boredom, I guess. Amazed that I did it, sad that I didn’t do more with it, and frankly bored by the whole thing.

    I know, I know, writers are not supposed to say things like this, for the same reason a mother is not allowed to look at her child with anything other than a proud smile, eyes brimming with tears of loving happiness; it’s just unprofessional. I’m always supposed to pretend like my writing is a beautiful, fascinating genius.

    It’s not a good feeling, to fall out of love with one’s own writing. After almost 70,000 words, I was hoping to work myself up to something more than a yawn

    • AI– (Authie for short?) (AI was a pretty good movie….)
      Thanks for the reminder. I did do it. Yay!
      Maybe I need to throw myself a little party or something to celebrate.
      Now if I only knew what I was going to do next…

      • AI was a pretty good movie.

        I think you should def throw a party!

        As far as where to go next. I think I read you need a editor. I think it pays a hire one. That way you get unbiased direction.

        Good luck!

  7. The moment I finished putting together my photography show, I lost interest in it. It was that instantaneous. I threw so much of me into it, spent so many hours deliberating over what sort of music to use and which shots would make the cut, that I was simply too spent to care any more. The same thing happens to me as a mother. Like right now. My youngest daughter just asked, “Mom, can you play a game with me?” in the most precious voice imaginable. But I’ve been going since 9:30 this morning, all in the name of Mama, and I’m done. All I can say is thank god she’s trained properly. If I had to deal with a fallout, I’d seriously lose it.

    Great job with this! I love the name Kinko. In fact, all these characters sound really interesting. I hope something totally awesome is about to happen to Drew. Something that interferes with all this new time on her hands.

    • Oh– the show! I’ll have to go peek to see if you talked about how it went. (What music did you choose, what did you wear, pictures?, etc.) I know we’re always expecting some huge release or relief or fireworks or trumpets at an ending so that if that doesn’t happen, it feels all wrong. I want the clouds to part! I want angels singing! (I sound more childish than your daughter, don’t I?)

  8. This is good stuff and I’m hooked, although I admit it sounds as much like the beginning of a story as it does the last chapter. (I haven’t read other excerpts of the novel, so maybe that accounts for the feeling.) But
    Marc’s advice is spot on. If you can, put this away for long enough so that you can read it as though picking it up in a bookstore. You’ll instantly see what’s working and what isn’t. Then, revise.

    • Very astute of you to notice, as it does go back to the beginning of the novel, which started like this:

      The hopeful writers who make up her weekly screenplay-writing group all have day jobs, but they each take one night a week to resuscitate their little sparks of hope or talent. This Wednesday the group meets in the heart of historic Hollywood near the mall where the Academy Awards are held, at the Starbucks on the corner of Highland and Franklin Avenues.

      Los Angeles: the epicenter of desire, the font of fantasy, the spot where dreams come true. Of course it would be unkind or hackneyed or just plain dumb to speak of the place in these terms if the citizens themselves did not struggle so valiantly to keep the cliché fresh and new, if that is possible. And it is possible, tonight, and everyone is on their way; lights flash like heartbeats, revving cars surge and stop in shining rivers of metal, and brilliant bodies bump and flow down the broad sidewalks.

      By the way, every time I stop in to your Saturday Post, I feel inspired to write this over. You often talk about the difference between high and low art (my words, not yours) and in this novel, I was consciously trying to bridge the gap by writing literary fiction about a “trashy” or low-brow topic.

      • Nice. Great imagery, and beautifully matched to the theme. I’ll have to check your archives and read more. Interesting that you talk about writing literary fiction about a low-brow topic. My writers’ group debates this constantly. Yes, it’s warranted (why should the high-brow stuff have all the fun?), as long as the characters don’t lose sight of who they really are.

        Thanks for the comment about my blog. I actually try sometimes to be more casual and personal, but it always seems to wind up formal and critical. Mostly, though, it’s an effort to raise questions about writing and the writing business. I figure somebody has to.

  9. Anna, it’s too bad you write with a learned wisdom, passion and intelligence. you need to have some explosions, killing, and dragons, in there. :-) continue…

  10. I’m wondering why Drew has plenty of time to think. It sounds ominous somehow.

    I haven’t written a whole novel before, just one beginning that will have to wait until I have the luxury of focusing on what, for me, is a complicated plot. But I’ve written a couple of long stories that made me wonder by the end, why I began them at all — that falling out of love feeling you mentioned.

    A couple of weeks ago, when I made myself start using the skills I’ve been building to write whatever the hell I wanted to, I think I tapped into the part of me who tends to talk in a certain kind of of way and bring up certain kinds of things in conversations with friends. That made me dive head first into what I know and what I care about in a whole new way. According to Lisa S., it’s working. When I make it to the end, I’ll let you know if I stayed excited about it or if that falling out of love feeling came back. I hope it doesn’t, but after 60,000 or so words, I wonder if it’s inevitable after so much immersion? At least for a little while?

  11. At least your boredom held bay until you finished the novel. I am bored now as I face the final chapter. I don’t think (or at least I better darn hope) that this reflects on the quality of my writing. I think I’ve just spent far too long on this novel (mostly not writing it, but thinking about it). But I do like what I’ve read so far and can hardly wait for more!

  12. I meant of your work, not mine, obviously!

  13. Based on the experience of writers in my group, 2 recently published and one on the threshhold, boredom in the final stages seems common. You’ve worked on the project for so long, rumbled the words through your head so many times that you can’t imagine anyone else wanting to spend time with them. That’s when it’s time to call in your readers and your editor. Fresh eyes read with a different perspective. Thank God!

    Besides, we are usually our own worst critics and we often think what’s in our own heads must be boring to others. I am constantly amazed when I dash off something for my blog that seems trivial yet comments from readers use words like “fascinating.” Who knows till you throw your words out to the world?

    • “Rumbled the words” precisely! LIke rocks in a rock-polisher.
      I wish we could watch a sped-up enactment of exactly what it looked like, the life of a story, from conception to publishing, with a list at the end of all the people who influenced the story.
      Thank you for reading!

  14. So, what you just said about the sped-up enactment sounds like a great blogpost! How did you disable the email explosion?

    • I know. It’s a problem, isn’t’ it? I hardly want to comment anymore because it’s like pulling a trigger. So I went to Settings> Discussion > Follow Comments Show a ‘follow comments” option in the comment form > click off. I think that’s how I did it. If everyone did it, we wouldn’t have to be scared to comment. Unless WP fixes it, this is the only thing we can do.

  15. You have this as whatnot …

  16. 2&4&12B&24 9 (31A?)29D 29A 29C 27C 26B 18A 14B 22 12A 18B 26A 20B&7&16A&16B
    14A 15A&15B 11 23C 3B 3A 19A&19B 29B 28&13&27A&23A&23B&21A&21B
    20A 6 10 21C 25A&25B&8&17A&17B&5&1

    I was not sure where to put thirty one A in – A story I gave quite a lot of time to, is drawing to a close and that in and of itself makes this chapter interesting. It seems things are going pretty well for Drew – she may not be
    on cloud nine but she is certinly not poor –

    You are looking at someone who has a love-hate relationship with her books – I just sent a twelve thousand word fantasy to a audio book publisher – (They want it! :D) but first I had to fix some things myself because they are a small company with no editing staff. I was delighted they actually read the thing – but terrified that
    I had to fix it – not because I was too attached to my own version – but because I simply never wanted to see
    it again. :P

    I’m still reading my first official contract but still do not want to consider myself accepted just yet – it seems to good to be true. -

  17. Oh, wow, what good news! I get some vicarious goosebumps reading this news, which deserves two smiley-face icons and more. Hearty congratulations to you!

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