Weekly Musing: Chaotic Mess

Oh, what a difference a month makes. I have completed the first month of the initial revision round on my historical fiction novel and it has gone a lot differently than I had envisioned. Physically my working space is a mess with papers, folders, and pens strewn about. From a creative standpoint things are also a giant mess. I had no idea just how much I would still be changing my mind. More than once I’ve altered where the story opens. I also decided to replace some character names because I wasn’t honestly never fully on board with the original names I straddled them with.

Issues I knew I’d have to deal with I finally got to and it wasn’t pretty. Most were research related and I got those nailed down. I hope anyway. As I noted above, I have this tendency to change my mind. Fingers cross I’ll let these thing stand for a while. The problem with me and research is not only do I get sucked into a black hole, which I usually enjoy, is I spend probably far too much time double, triple, and quadruple-checking facts.

In the back of my mind I am paranoid should this book get published, if I have even one thing wrong, even if it is something small, I will get blasted for inaccuracy. This is a product of observing and participating in various online discussions. It fatigues and frustrates me to point out nothing will be 100% accurate, especially in fiction. While I’m not the lone voice in this, it still bothers me trying to reason with idiots. Explaining authors can only do the best they can with the information they have falls on deaf ears.

While I can defend and understand what other authors do, it is problematic for me to apply the logic to my own work. I have to be vigilant in telling myself I am in the beginning stages of revision and that I have never revised a novel before. Techniques I apply to short stories have worked but I am also discovering my strategy must be different.

Nothing will be perfect yet I’ve already redone the beginning at least two times and will tackle it a third time before throwing in the towel to move onto the middle. I have re-arranged and re-re-arranged chapters, deleted others, switched chunks of a scene to either earlier or later in the book and even noted scenes I think would be better switched to the other character’s POV. I don’t know how many times I’ve tried to condense basic information into a quick, easy-to-read file so I don’t have to keep flipping back to Scrivener.

I have learned that while I may be a naturally organized person with a brain that thrives best on compartmentalization, the other part of my brain, the one which controls creativity, apparently likes the chaos. Perhaps it’s the thrill of creating a giant mess and then working to put it back together into something better. I’m not very nice to myself.

But this chaos vexes me. I’d hoped to be a further ahead on my rewrite; not still stuck at the beginning. Looking ahead to August, it’s going to be a busy month personally. I ponder how much time I will while making sure I pace myself so I don’t fry my creativity. Yet this makes me feel as if I’m pushing myself more and more behind. While I have likened this to an extreme marathon, this first month has me feeling as if I haven’t even gotten off the starting line.

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