Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Sprints and Marathons

So yeah, I've stopped writing the Roman novel for a while, mostly because the last 100 pages felt like someone had stuck a turkey baster into my head and sucked my brains out. And because the muscles I'm using to juggle the plot, the characters, the clues, the false clues, and all the information that's being doled out to the reader about the mystery -- those muscles are dog tired right now. They feel like they've been lifting a house for the past year, with no foreseeable opportunity of lowering the fully-built five-story mansion in the near future. So I've put it on a landing, and boy are my tired arms grateful.

But because I can never relax and just do nothing, and because I'm never happy trying to finish just one thing when I could be trying to finish two or three things, I've started working on a play. I've been making notes for this since February 15th, when I got the idea, but I didn't start actually writing it until April 11th, about a week after I finished the last hundred-page segment of novel. Since then, I've written the first three scenes and drafted two out of the next four. And it's been, well, like the difference between sprinting and running a marathon.

All the heaviness and weight I've been feeling is gone; I feel light enough to be blown over by a breeze. Thinking in terms of pages containing description and dialogue that need to be paced and delivered gradually has become thinking in terms of minutes and sharp exchanges of dialogue and let the director figure out where to pace it. Even though I know where it should be paced.

There's a breathing analogy too. Dragging a breath in after you've been running fifteen miles is different from dragging a breath in when you're only running in fifteen minute spurts. In the first case it's agony, in the second it's not even noticeable; hell, you could whistle and breathe, or sing and breathe, and still keep the pace.

Plus, at the end of the day (or in this case the end of the month) I'll have completed something, which hasn't happened in over a year. Yeah, it's just a first draft, but when I realize that the first draft of the novel probably won't get done before Christmas, then I'm itching to write another play after this one.

The only question becomes: how much of a sprint break do I take before I go back to the marathon? Or can I crosstrain myself into doing both at the same time? Because, after all, I'm never happy unless I'm trying to finish two things instead of just one . . .

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