Friday, December 17, 2010

What Does It Take?

Ask me to take care of a small, urgent matter, a ten minute fix when there are only five minutes left, and I'll do it. With a grim smile and glittering eyes, I'll right your ship.

Ask me to plan a party with ten guests and give me six months to plan, and don't be surprised when I fall down on the job. The food won't get ordered. The cake won't get baked. The napkins will terribly and obviously not match the plates. I won't hand the task back, mind you. I'll fret over it, worry at it in my head, and Do. Nothing.

Getting the idea?

I'm good at the quick fix, putting out the small fire. I fall apart when faced with something large, a wall instead of a window. Time cures nothing. The pressure just mounts, but it's not enough to motivate me. It's only enough to paralyze.

So how, you ask, can I ever complete a novel?
One Hundred Thousand Words.
Four Hundred Pages.

A novel breaks down into pieces, myriad movable parts. Some are bright and shiny and hard to let go of. Some are slippery. Or hot. Or so vague they're invisible and impossible to grasp in your hand. But those you can see, more importantly those you can see the end of, those are manageable.


Look at your story as a single solid entity, but look at the novel - at crafting the novel - in parts. Finish one chapter and then the next. Tweak a single scene, brighten up a lonely conversation. Easy, right?

Ask me to write a novel and I'll be overwhelmed. Ask me to tell you a story, and I'm there, man. With freaking bells on.


  1. Aaw, I love this post, Hillary, even though I work the other way around.

    Ask me to do something big - to write an entire novel or plan a big party - and I'll start right away. I'll take it as a challenge. You don't want to challenge me!

    When it comes to small changes, though... I wait. I note them somewhere and wait, and if you're lucky I won't lose that note. XD I need big goals to work. Tell me to edit a novel, and I'll do it. Tell me to change that sentence, and I'll highlight it and move on.

    But with freaking bells on. Oh yes. :D

  2. I am boggled by this concept of not obsessing over the details. I didn't even know there was such a thing. :)