At the beginning of a new project, I’m in love.
The idea is not only brilliant but emotionally gripping. The main character…oh, I could swoon over her, she’s so alive and complex and unique. Snippets of dialogue and scenes start writing themselves in my head. The settings are Technicolor bright. Everything is exciting, busting with possibilities.
This euphoria lasts until I actually start writing.
When the project is contained entirely in my head, it’s perfect. The moment I sit down and commit words to screen, though, that sense of shiny-apple newness wears off faster than the bath I just gave my dog. Because once the work actually starts, problems start poking their ugly little fishy snouts into my vision.
Exactly how was I going to manage the—? Which point of view—? If you have main character X doing this, then she can’t go there, because—No, maybe she can, if I just—Why was she doing that to begin with? Wait a minute, now I’m confused. Where are my notes?!
This is never going to work. This idea is stupid. Whoever said I could write, anyway? Oh, look, Star Trek is on. Aliens with funny foreheads, now that’s a good idea! Maybe I should write science fiction instead. Yeah, science fiction, that’s it.
Get. Butt. Back. In. Chair.
Stare at computer screen. Type a few words. Delete them. Hunt for my notes. The notes don’t help. The vision in my head is still there, but trying to capture it feels like catching butterflies with a sledgehammer.
This is when a writer is confronted with Two Choices.
1) The sledgehammer.
2) Hold onto the dream of perfection forever.
If I choose 1), trying to club this thing onto paper, I know that my perfect dream of a book will sprout warts and grow twisted limbs and disappear, for long stretches, only to reappear looking like something out of Tim Burton's nightmares. But…it’ll be real, it’ll be out in the world. It will exist.
If I choose 2), the vision stays in my head. Forever perfect, and never taking on a life of its own. And I get to go back to work full-time.
Where did those notes go, again…?