Friday, May 31, 2013

Schizoid Beginnings




Like Latayne, I'm preparing to start a new novel. But unlike Latayne, I'm going solo with Patti-specific ideas. Beauty or beast, the ideas are all mine. Let me explain how I feel about that.

Rather schizoid, actually.


Party Patti wants to believe her ideas are effervescent in their beauty. They are the perfectly dressed woman who walks into a party, and everyone there wants to talk to her--men and women. She has a wide-eyed intelligence and a sense of welcoming that makes her approachable and endlessly entertaining. 


Party-Pooper Patti knows her ideas are old chestnuts that should have been taken out with the trash. So she lurks in the kitchen, hoping no one will notice she arrived in the blouse she has worn all day or the spots of spaghetti sauce on one breast. She trembles over being asked what she's working on. Her elevator pitch is three pages long! Her plot is convoluted. The premise...well...what is the premise?


I hope I'm not the only one.

Am I?

You will admit that you're a bit schizoid, too, right?

This is the truth of it. We all want to be heard, but the part of us that is looking for a campfire where we can tell our fabulous stories (publishing contract?) is at odds with the part of us that fears rejection, exposure, and humiliation. 

This is the tension we must face to start a novel, or if you prefer a more dramatic metaphor: These are the demons we wrestle to get to the computer to muss that first page on the screen. This may be the very phenomenon we're calling procrastination. 

What are we to do?

I would tell you to put your butt in your chair and start writing, but they're telling us that all this sitting is killing us. We should be writing as we walk on a treadmill. Now, we have a fear of falling to overcome. (Picture included, so you'll know I'm not lying.)

Do you feel this tension when starting a novel? (Please say you do even if you don't. My dentist already called me neurotic this week. Honestly, I could use a pack of co-ninnies around me just now.) How do you work past the tension (demons!) to start your novel? Is anyone out there walking and writing at the same time? Is that wise? 

13 comments:

Karen Schravemade said...

Patti, YES!! Most definitely! I always feel that way! (Or should I say, those ways?) Pretty darn glad I'm not alone in this!

Btw, I suck big time at elevator pitches. 3 pages seems quite succinct to me... ;)

VERY cool that you're starting a new project!

Karen Schravemade said...

P.S. I'd be honoured to be your co-ninny.

Susie Finkbeiner said...

Oh heavens, yes. I'm like this all the time.

I just write and write and write when I feel that tension. And I try to remember that it doesn't have to be perfect...yet.

I was called neurotic by a psychologist friend of mine. Then I obsessed for a week over whether or not she was serious.

Beth Dial Duke said...

You've summed me up perfectly! Such kinship requires I become your co-ninny immediately. Thank you for putting my current writing life into words--right down to the treadmill part.

Patti Hill said...

Karen: I appreciate your kinship in this. And I'm working on getting my elevator pitch down to 20--count 'em, 20--words. If I succeed, that might make a good post. Co-ninnies unite!

Susie: Writing and writing and writing is a wonderful cure for the start-up tension. The nice thing about being neurotic is that my dentist didn't charge me to look at a dark spot in my mouth that she notices and notated in 1992. Hey, it was new to me!

Beth: I know some prolific writers who stand to write to help their backs. I set a timer for 30 minutes. When it goes off, I hula for 2 minutes to refresh the circulation around my spin. A little disruptive, but not dangerous. Thanks for being my co-ninny.

Henrietta Frankensee said...

It is not just the start up that has me vacillating. I am schizoid about every stage of writing. This is re-enforced by people who read the first few pages and say the story is brilliant but no one has ever made it to the end. Maybe I have a great beginning but tumble into the swamp through the middle. The end is definitely swampy but I need someone to make it there before I know how to dredge it.
Ninny Nanny Netticoate
In her white Petticoat
The longer she stands the shorter she grows.
What is she?
By Beatrix Potter

Patti Hill said...

Henrietta: A candle?

You might want to get a paid critique. They will give you an impartial and informed review of your story. Many writers conferences have these as part of their intensives. I know Mt. Hermon has a powerful mentoring program and Writing for the Soul does Internet mentoring, I think.

cherry Odelberg said...

"We all want to be heard, but the part of us that is looking for a campfire where we can tell our fabulous stories (publishing contract?) is at odds with the part of us that fears rejection, exposure, and humiliation. " Need I say more?
P.S. If I write while walking, I will fall off a cliff.

Patti Hill said...

Cherry: I would try the hula.

Josey Bozzo said...

Schizoid? How bout this for schizoid? I walk around with entire stories in my head somewhere, but I can't seem to get them to the paper. Eventually, the fullness of it all is just too much and if I don't write something down, I feel like my head will explode. Then I write down the most prominent scene, and then I write it and rewrite it and rewrite it. Then I let others read it, and rewrite it again. They ask, "where's the rest?" and of course I don't have anything else, because I've only let a few bits out. So they become frustrated with me because I keep giving them snipets.
So then I just walk around with the voices in my head and start the process all over again. All the while never actually writing a book, just wanting to write a book.
Schizoid? You bet.

Patti Hill said...

Josey: I don't think the hula will help that. Try writing something shorter, like a, well, short story or novella. And just think of it of practice, so perfectionist will get distracted with something else. Start small. And do the hula.

Karen Schravemade said...

Patti, I really want to see you doing the hula.

Patti Hill said...

Karen: Maybe it's time for a podcast.