That Magic Moment When You Say, “Well, This Sucks”

I had it all figured out yesterday. I was just going to follow them around with a pen, right? Oh. My gosh. No. Worst writing session ever.

I kept jumping from one person’s head to another, listening to them think and talk, then adding a character back in that  I had taken out, and then taking her out again, and ending up with a jumbled mess of 610 paltry words that don’t even make sense. And all through it, trying desperately not to be maudlin. Maudlin!

Cut that scene. Here’s a video of Stephen King talking to writers.

Highlight: “There’s a magic moment, where you put down some book and you say, this really sucks. I can do better than this.” That book, the one that sucks? Will probably be mine.

10 thoughts on “That Magic Moment When You Say, “Well, This Sucks”

  1. If it helps, I have this same sort of problem when I get all my characters in the room. Which reminds me, I need to experiment more with 3rd person omniscient. I have this problem because I write 3rd person personal. In The Casual Vacancy, JK Rowling really is a master at jumping around heads and it inspired me.

    • I’ve always loved to “jump heads,” but it’s kind of insane at the moment. Two paragraphs then I’m ready to be in somebody else’s head. It’s a little schizo. I was so SURE yesterday that I knew who was going to tell this part of the story. Then there’s the phantom character. Now you see her. Now you don’t. Oh, wait. There she is again. I think I’ve decided now that she has to stay in, and that she’s going to play a significant role later. But, you know. Who knows. Writing novels sucks. Except when it doesn’t.

      • Also. Maybe I’ll read A Casual Vacancy now. I’ve read bits of it, standing around the bookstore, and it frankly sounds terrible. Maybe it’s not fair to judge it on the basis of three or four paragraphs. I’ll give it a try when I get through this small stack: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, Neil Gaiman’s latest, Glennon’s latest. By that time it will be too late for this novel, I hope, but maybe for my next one.

        • Hm, fantasy, fantasy, a book about motherhood (or something)…. The Casual Vacancy is decidedly not fantasy and really gritty, but not in a Stephen King or Chuck Palahniuk way. It’s not disturbing, I guess. I thought it was fantastic and will be re-reading it eventually. But I have a thing for writers who can sound like Jane Austen and be as good with characters as Jane Austen but have more movement in their stories (hence: Suzanne Collins).

  2. I tend to find when I have a really bad writing session, it’s because I’m trying to make the story go in one direction, and it’s not supposed to happen like that. It drags, I don’t enjoy writing it, and I’m sure no one will enjoy reading it. I usually end up going back, deleting up to where things began to fall apart, and starting over. The end result is usually much more suitable.
    Have you read Stephen King’s On Writing? Full of advice like in the clip, and a spectacular read. I just finished it myself. And Neil Gaiman’s latest is simply wonderful. Very short, quick read, but a nice dose of taking you out of reality for a little while.

    • Hi Maggie! Nice to see you here. :) I agree–sometimes it’s exactly that. Sometimes it means I’m writing the wrong part, and I need to move ahead or move backward to where it gets interesting again. Sometimes it means I’m exhausted (getting up at 5 am and going to bed at midnight is all fine and well if it means I get two hours to write, especially since I can make up the sleep on the weekends, but it means that by Friday my brain is fried).

      I will definitely check out King’s On Writing. Thanks for the recommendation! Adding it to my Amazon wish list right now. I’m also headed over to check out your blog.

      By the way, the phantom character is back. I knew she had to come back because of this: I asked her whether she *wanted* to be there, and it turned out she did. And then I thought about this scene I was writing, and she was the one who made me cry, so I knew she had to be there. Stick me in the insane asylum now. There’s no hope for me.

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