Illustration by Sara Herranz
I'm in some kind of a rut these last few days. Maybe I've made a leap with Janna? Somehow crossed over to a higher level of writing? Or maybe it's just wishful thinking, an illusion. Or maybe the idea of sandwiching drafts from two different novels was a big fat mistake...whatever the reason, I can't shake off the feeling of dismay and disappointment and disgust when I got done reading the third draft of TUBE. When I was writing it, I was so excited about the whole idea, and when I finished reading it after a three-months break, I thought, "Well, if I were an agent reading this as a submission, I'd have rejected it after the first page." And then I thought, "Or, if I were an editor, I'd rip the writer a new asshole for sending me this shallow glitzy bit of story."
So I asked myself, "Why? Why don't I like it anymore?" And then I remembered an experience I had once seeing two movies in a row. I went to see an independently produced film at SIFF and some minutes after it ended I went to see Moulin Rouge!, and after sitting through a couple opening scenes I felt nauseated and wanted to walk out. The festival movie has moved me so profoundly that the Hollywood movie right after it seemed superfluous, needlessly pompous, juvenile, empty.
This is how I felt diving into TUBE after Janna. It seemed diluted, watery storytelling in comparison, with a slew of flat characters and cheap tricks and stereotypical, simplified dialogue that made me want to gag. And so for a few days after I felt like crying. Then I set to rewriting it from scratch. The order of the chapters is gone, and the path of the story is going is new. But the scariest part is, I suddenly don't know where it will end up. It's like I'm really writing Draft 1 of Tyubik, not Draft 4. It's disheartening. I'm thinking, "I've already written a bunch of books, blissfully charging forward like a fool. And a fool I was, indeed. Is this maudlin melancholy and snot-jerking doubt the price of experience and knowledge?" I guess in some other time and place I would've shelved the book. I was tempted. But I'm stubborn and I'm not a quitter. I will finish it, no matter the cost. Only it kicked the ground from under my feet. What the hell happened??? Why now? And where did this frustration come from?