Like a “Real” Novel

by RS on August 16, 2011

Since working with the Mac version of Scrivener I have the dandy option of compiling my masterpiece and formatting it to .mobi so I can have the opportunity to upload it to my Kindle and see if it looks and feels like a “real novel.”

In terms of looking like a novel (albeit a digital version) there are some issues with formatting that with a little patience and practice I will nail down. As far as Julius having that “feel” of it becoming an honest to God book, it has a quite a bit to go. There are parts that, if I do say so myself, are pretty good and it reads the way a finished and well-edited book should read. And then…and here’s where I emit a deep sigh…there are parts that are dreadful.

What’s frustrating about this entire rewrite is that one day I’m satisfied by it and then the next day I’m horrified that I spent several hours spewing out effluvium. The frustration turns into excuses to edit more and write less and that in turns into getting so fed up with the entire story. I plan other projects to avoid writing and figuring out how I can make sense of all the nonsense. I rather take my recalcitrant Jack Russell terrier to the groomer to get his toenails clipped than face the mess of my manuscript.

Of course, I can just force myself to sit down, write, and stop agonizing but that’s too easy. I have to prolong the torture by wanting to write and rewrite it to near perfection. I’ve managed put so much pressure on myself and that it has turned into a self-defeating exercise. I want perfection and I want to accomplish it within a ridiculous amount of time.

If I know this why do I keep on doing it? I suppose a lot of it has to do with the way I was raised. In my family, and I think this comes more from my father’s side, you had to accomplish greatness at an early age like seven year old.

I wrote about my Aunt Mary Jane several months ago and how she would point out the flaws and never say anything positive. She would tell me when I was 21 that I had to hurry up and finish college, get a job, and find a husband before I became too old. Too old for Aunt Mary Jane was something in the neighborhood of 22 years.

Although I rarely took her very seriously, she knew how to push my buttons and when it came to age and accomplishments. I somehow managed to do everything too old or too late (finish grad school, start a career, romantic partnerships, and I failed miserably, in Aunt MJ’s eyes, as a woman because I am childless—by choice.)

So here I am at a milestone age and I’m wondering whether this book will ever be finished before another big birthday comes to remind me that I am no ingenue. Perhaps, I should apply the same doggedness I had when I was modeling while I in college. At the time I was obsessed with my smile. I’ve never liked it and smiling for the camera always looked insincere. However , in my typical obsessive-compulsive manner, I practiced my “model smile” a la Christy Brinkley, over and over in front of the mirror. I’d flash one to my mother and ask if it looked like a “model’s smile,” wanting to be reassured that, yes, it looked real, sincere, and gorgeous. I’m sure she must have reached a point that she wanted to throw a pie in my face and wipe that shit-eating grin, but I finally got it down with a lot of practice. So maybe I have to take that same determined approach and just sit down, forget these self-imposed deadlines (and Aunt Mary Jane), write, write, write and stop torturing myself if it looks and reads like a “real novel.”

The Perfected Smile Years Later

Before Perfecting the Smile

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