07 March 2014

senior integration

While I have continued to work on my SIP regularly, I find myself in a struggle to keep up hope in finishing it to my satisfaction. I become overwhelmed faster and for longer periods of time as I come to learn more about the souls of my characters. They are beautiful, broken, frightened people and my strong desire is to represent them both respectfully and  holistically.

I am still reading Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird and her honesty about the terror of the "sh---- first draft" couldn't have come at a better time. It is a wonderful reminder of how I am in good company in my struggles. I may feel as though this entire paper is falling apart (which usually expands into the fear that this real, physical, grab-the-dirt-between-your-fingers-world is also falling apart), but that is part of the writing process. The horrible dialogue that I wrote? The sentimental moment Lawrence had the other day? No one will ever read or see that unless I want them to. If I allow those drafts to come into being knowing that they are disgusting and messy, if I work through them later after leaving them sit raw and trembling for awhile, they become harder, firmer, more temporal, and more truthful than I care to admit. And what better goal could I have in this almost-but-not-yet?

What I am really concerned about is my perfectionism. Once again, Anne Lamott blows me away by speaking directly to the fears that have built their way up around me. The piece I am writing turns out to be sitting right next to many wounds I never knew existed. I have hid them away for so long that I forgot they lie there, all stretched out and tender...until I begin writing. Suddenly, it’s all too close and I can’t put down another word for fear that it will be sharper than the last. Every muscle around those nerves, the nerves I need access to for a particular scene or expression, are cramped and inflamed, refusing to respond. So I try to force my way through the barbs only to find myself with more abrasions. I can hardly look at the pages on my computer screen, much less think about reading them aloud.

But then it begins to loosen. After jumping about like mad tweaking a word on page ten and maybe switching a couple on page twenty three, I begin to feel the first scene open up again. I start to hear his breathing get louder and faster, or I see the glint of light off of her zipper pull. I dive back in for half an hour and come out panting, twitchy, and in no condition to attend to my next class.  Thank you, Father God for acting step-outs and prayer to wipe away the tension. 

I have also found someone to read my drafts as I go along...the bloated, red, puffy ones along with the tinny lies of inaccurate dialogue. It is a terrifying thing to ask for such censure and it takes an extremely rare pairing of great love and clear vision to be a friend and a critic, but I have found just such a one. She herself is fully aware of how close writing is to the soul and how gentle yet sharp criticism must be. I am greatly blessed.

As of today I have nineteen scenes written in first, second, or third draft form and I have thirteen scenes sketched out in some degree of detail. There are now less than seventy days before this piece will have to go under the false title of "final draft," but I can’t think about that. 

I feel overwhelmed and scared but I am also absolutely certain that this is what I need to be writing and doing and thinking and feeling.

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