on plot knots

New Year’s was celebrated here with victuals and libations and much fun. But not too much – I was able to get up without a headache or self-loathing on New Year’s Day.

The Final Push on my WIP has officially started (actually started a few day after Christmas). This is when writing gets a little…. unattractive. Yesterday is a good example. I slept in and didn’t start work until 8:30am, but I worked all day. Did not go to the gym. Did not go running. Did not change into real clothes. Forgot to look outside. Drank more coffee than I care to remember. Ignored email. Ignored the dog. (Did not ignore my husband. I may be obsessive, but I’m not a fool.)

I thought by the end of yesterday I would have the entire first half of the book (about 150 pages) is good shape. Not great shape, mind you, but very good working draft shape, solid enough that if my editor happened to show up on my doorstep I could hand him those pages with confidence.

But oh, no, Laurie Beth. “Twas not to be.

Right after cup of coffee #4 I attacked Chapter 12, which I have been avoiding for several months. Part of my avoidance was a big, fat lie that I spun for myself. I said “I am postponing work on 12 because I have to do a little more research/order another book/track down that expert for an interview.” Lies, lies, lies. Chapter 12 sucked because an ugly plot knot boogered up Chapters 12, 13 & 14. By 15 it is all straight and smooth-flowing. But it is bad form to have a structural train wreck at the one-third point of your book.

There was much highlighting of pages, then pressing the magic delete key. Much foul language. And then a lot of typing. Towards sunset I was pounding my head on the table and BH gently suggested that a shower mught be in order. (Authors frequently forget to bathe during the Final Push. An ugly fact of life.) Showered, ate, read chapters out loud, and started to detangle the knot. Around 9pm my left eye wandered off, the sign that my brain has shut down. I read some poetry and went to bed.

Today will be more of the same. I need to even out the little tangles still lingering from yesterday’s knot, then push on to the next trainwreck. I leave Thursday for a poetry retreat. I had hoped to have the WIP done before it started (le sigh), but it was not meant to be.

Back to work.

18 Replies to “on plot knots”

  1. Thanks for this post. As I’m about to plunge into rewrite #1 on my Currently Horrible Historical, it is nice to know that even smart, established, and admirable writers like you have plot knots and use the delete key.

    Best of luck on the Final Push.

  2. I’m probably not the first person to say this but I’m thankful that you post about your writing woes. Sometimes I think people believe books just appear out of thin air and don’t realize just how much work goes into creating and sustaining a story.

  3. I’m sorry to hear you’re stressed, but if it makes you feel any better, I still admire you for doing the one thing that I wish I could do, which is, of course, writing novels. Getting paid to do it wouldn’t be so bad either. 🙂

  4. oh man I totally know what you’re talking about! I have a bit of a knot towards the end of my second book. I always wonder if writing for prose is different than writing for comics, but it seems like they’re one and the same. Story is story in the end! Thanks for this post, it reminds me that I need to start untying my own knot, I don’t think I can afford any more months of procrastination. (three months left for three chapters! yikes…).

  5. hi, I’m a big fan

    hi, I am a big fan of your book Speak. I read it for a book report at school. Someone suggested it and I said it sounded stupid, but I was very wrong. It is now on my fave list. I am also going to get more of your novels at the library. I have now suggested your book to several of my friends who are already enjoying it!

  6. That’s why I don’t write much anymore (partly anyway). I really do think it got to the point where it was pretty unhealthy and I am way too close to the edge as is. I miss it though, even the sucky parts.

  7. I went outside today (first time since Friday). I really needed that; my apartment had turned into the belljar. Anyway, you should go out for few minutes tomorrow. Because I said so. And because you’d tell me the same thing. Plus, you’ll prolly think better if you get some fresh air.

    1. You are so right. I only allowed myself one bat-shit-stay-cooped-up day (in my defense, I did eat profoundly healthy stuff). But I promise to get out every day from now on. I’ll be in the mountains this weekend and am looking forward to hiking.

      Belljars suck. Air is better. Thanks for watching out for me.

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