The Mouse Has Me

I seem to have developed a growing fear of the end of my novel.

When the biggest a-ha moment came to me, about a month or so ago, I could see the whole end of the novel laid out before me like I’d crested the hill and could take it all in with one sweeping, cinematic shot. It was just a matter of tumbling down, letting gravity take control and hurtle me down to the end. I thought, foolishly, that it would be effortless.

Which, in writing, is never the case.

Instead, the whole thing’s turned into a bit of ‘cat and mouse’. I am the house cat, of course, circling the cornered mouse with a mixture of curiosity and apprehension. I know it’s trapped, I know it’s mine, but at the same time it’s still quite living and surely has a surprise or two up it’s furry sleeve. And it’s staring back at me, knowing it’s the end game and daring me to pounce. This mouse has balls, it seems, having played and survived this game before, while for me, it’s only my second mouse out and my first mouse practically killed itself.

(How’s that for some tortured imagery?)

Anyways, I have about 10,000 words to go. Approximately. Maybe. How does one quantify an ending you haven’t written yet? I have the big theft, I have the discovery of the wounded friend, I have the gathering of resolve, the final confrontation, and then the denouement. Would that be 10,000 words? I don’t know. But that seems like a fair target to sum up what is left to write and something accomplishable for the month of October.

Because the plan is (the new plan, or the ‘newer’ plan, or the ‘plan for this week, until I change my mind’) that I finish the draft by the end of October. Originally, that plan was to have it done by the end of September. Ha. Between being solo for the week with the dog and the purchase of the last video game I will ever buy because they are glorious time sinks (see the ever delightful Katamari Forever), I’ve written a little bit but then found excuses to not nab that mouse.

(And it’s tweaking it’s little nose and whiskers at me. Little bastard.)

I have plans for the critique group submissions so I don’t really have to think about them too hard. I want to get an idea of what I’ll be doing for NaNoWriMo, as I plan on fully committing to a new novel by November 1st, with Spirit Cat written and resting for a while before I get back to it. That is the plan. And the plan involves writing. Not procrastinating.

(Like blog writing. *smacks self* OOW!)

To break this habit, I’m dipping into Phase Outlining. Modified to fit my needs, of course, since 80% of the book is written by now, but to not let myself stall when I sit down to write. Part of my slow down in production has been how busy it’s been at work — no down time at all between calls, so no writing long hand to work from. When you have a minute or less between calls you just cannot get more than a sentence fragment out. Trust me, I’ve tried, and it just frustrates me to pieces. And that’s when you have a minute or less!

But, I can crank out a phase outline for the chapter or scene here and there. That’s all I managed the last day at work, a single phase-page for the next chapter, and while it’s just an outline I felt so much better for most of the rest of the day while at work. And now I can come to the desk today with a rough plan of what I’m going to write.

(Also realized I forgot to write something important into the last scene, but at least I know now … sigh.)

So, I’m mouse hunting for the month of October. If I get done the draft before the end of October, I will reward myself handsomely. With what, I don’t know, but I’m sure something will pop up.

Probably another mouse.

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