Sunday, November 7, 2010

The end of the road?

"I don't know about this story [Forest of Lies]. It feels different than all the others - it feels...this will probably sounds silly, but it feels like one I MUST tell. One that will become truly mine."

I was pleading with my teacher. Please, my email said, please, understand. There's something different. I don't know what to do. Help me.

It was a different question then I'd ever asked him before, and I had peppered him with plenty, about technical things, about emotional things, about getting stuck, getting bored, and those darn adverbs. This was different. I had a story I didn't know what to do with, one that would simply not leave me alone.

"I think it's different this year. It's a story, not random scenes. At times it IS hard to write and plan - I've never had so many extreme ups and downs on a story before. I think it's different, special. I'm a little scared of the fact that it might not be, but I do want to try it. I actually chose not to write it this year, because I wanted to write it "when I was better, because I like it so much." You know, older. Better at writing than I am. But it seems I can't wait on this one."

This was my main concern. I had chosen not to do it because I didn't feel ready for it. And, after my tiring experience with Betsy Flowain the year before, I had decided that it would probably be better to begin a story from scratch than to use one I had been messing with for two years. My mentor's response to these fears made me sob.

"I understand why you would want to write Robin Hood later, when you are better as a writer, but you will actually become better as a writer by putting all of yourself into everything you write. So, if Robin Hood is where your passion lies, then go for it. It may not be the story that it could be in a few years, but it might be even better...

I wrote a novel for my Masters thesis that was completely against the grain...I still love the novel I wrote then, though when I look at it now I see how full of problems and mistakes it is. I also see how I should have written it, and sometimes I think about going back and rewriting it. But - and here is the point - I can't go back and write it now because I don't have the same passion for the story that I had then. I was better off writing the story with less skill because I had more passion. If I had waited a few years until I grew as a writer, I wouldn't have written the story at all, and I may not have grown as a writer. The story helped me."

As I compile and re-read this now, I'm crying again...ever since last year, I've been trying to edit Forest of Lies...I still love it with everything in me...but my repeated attempts and failure to change it make me wonder, now. Anytime I look back on things Mr.Schwabauer has told me, I realize how much the same is true for me. As I've been editing, I've been afraid of messing up Marian's voice. In fact, my fourth draft of Chapter 1 is polished, but her voice is changed. I thought it might be good, but now I wonder...

I love Forest of Lies; I wanted it to be perfect. Maybe, though, it is. I still get PMs from people telling me how they loved the story, how it touched them. I've been thinking: with all those faults? How does that work? I didn't express myself or my story as well as I COULD have!

But I wrote with everything in me. And it changed me. I don't know where I'd be now without Forest of Lies. It was such a wonderful, beautiful experience, I've been trying to get back in on, to polish it to a high sheen. Maybe, though, it's not meant to be polished. Maybe sometimes raw and bleeding is more important than perfection.

As I started to write this this morning, I was going to qualify my sentiments with "maybe I'm just lazy...maybe I just need to get into it..." but I remember when I dived into second and third drafts with extreme passion in April of 2009. I stayed up until two in the morning. It was still alive then, my heart still beating in it. It was a flower I coaxed to maturity.

Now I'm trying crystallize that flower, make it shine with my new skill.

I haven't wanted to let it go. I still don't. Maybe, though, it's time now that I did. If I revise it with the plans I have, it won't be the same. It can't. I'll give thoughts to word choices, to details, to rounding the story around Marian and Robin, when Marian and Robin are the real focus. When Marian's change is all that mattered, all that ever will matter.

Thank you, God, for a story so beautiful, an experience so wonderful, that I'm crying at the thought of letting it rest a year and a half later. I know you have new stories to tell me, and each is "more beautiful than the last."

Whatever I decide, I love you, Forest of Lies. I love you with all my heart. I won't forget.

I can't.


Katie Oostman said...

Wow. Thank you for that. I have that problem too. Not feeling worthy to write the ideas, like I won't do them justice. But you and Mr. S are so right. Passion fuels it. With my first story Protected, I wrote out of sheer passion. there were problems, but people kept telling me they could not put it down. That passion flooded into them.

Thank you for reminding me!

Gray said...

Yes! I haven't read your new versions of FoL, but I did read Sammii's "The Line Between" Draft 2... and I thought the same thing-- it was technically better, but not as alive as the first version. Sentence structure and such are so significant, THAT's what I'm going to focuse on as I edit Draft 3 1/2 [ uh, yeah... :D] because otherwise, I'm scared I'll kill it as I try so hard to change it. As to FoL again, Marian's voice adds so much to the story, I really think you should work hard to preserve it!!!


Nairam said...

@Katie: You're welcome, I guess!

@Gray: Well, the newest version of FoL I've let anyone see is actually still the contest draft. That was the third one! Still not sure what I should about editing it into draft four. I'm praying about it, currently.

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