Messy Work

Good news: I’ve worked on my novel for thirteen days straight.

Duh news: Each time, I am nervous about starting my daily writing session, afraid I won’t be able to write, and each time, I find it is possible to get work done even if I am not immediately inspired. On one day, I got work done even though my prevailing emotion was irritation with moody teens and a needy (but adorable) puppy.

I am at an odd point in the revision in which my goal is, apparently, to make a mess of previous drafts. The metaphors that come to mind are of messy work rather than mess-as-goal, like fluffing rice after it has cooked or adding spices to a soup to see what works.

I struggle to describe this work because some of it is creative, when I generate, often unexpectedly, new lines, scenes, or insights to weave into the text, yet other times the writing feels almost mechanical, add a few words here, cut a few words there. I am not trying to polish the prose, and I am skipping around each scene just to fill in where it felt as if something was missing.

I remember years ago in a sculpting class I would scoop bits of clay on top of more clay to get a mound of clay in the general shape needed so then I could smooth and shape it into something worth viewing. I’m at the stage of adding layers of clay right now.

Messy work indeed.

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