Being burned out is different from needing a break.
Other than brainstorming for some flash fiction, I haven’t written for six weeks. [Unless you count writing checks for bills or revising my résumé. Shite. I haven’t even been blogging as regularly as I ought.] That is by far the longest non-writing spell I’ve had during the last 2 1/2 years.
It’s odd how the process for Phreak Show has been so different from my previous novels. As always, the premise & ideas developed over time. They simmered and congealed in my head for months. I scribbled a few gems down so as not to forget them, but then held all that info in a sort of suspended animation in my head. In a moment of weakness, I drafted and revised the opening page before a conference.
And then I made myself stop.
I was holding out for NaNo. I remember dying to get the words out. The characters were yapping all the time–developing and morphing and becoming folks with their own rich, private histories. I’ve never been on a movie set right before filming begins, but that’s what I felt like was going on. The actors were getting to know one another, practicing their lines, feeling one another out. Alliances and enmities were formed. Flirtations began. Evil eyes were cast.
Then the planning and gap-filling for the novel took place. November came, and the mad, loose drafting started. I hit my personal goal of 60k by Thanksgiving. And without backtracking, reading, or revising, I set the world aside.
And then I made myself stop. Again.
I haven’t touched it since. And that is something I’ve never done before.
Normally I blaze through the first draft, maybe take a few days off at most, then dive back into revising the story. Not so with Phreak Show. I didn’t lose interest in it. I definitely didn’t burn out on the characters or the storyline. I didn’t lose steam or get stuck on which way the tale would turn next. There was something about how well the narrative was going and how amazing everything was coming together that made me not want to screw it up. Or something.
Is it a line from a movie or a statement from an actual friend I’m remembering right now? Something about a guy getting his hair cut three days before a wedding so he would look well-groomed but not like he had gotten his hair cut the day before? That is where I’ve been with the drafting of Phreak Show. Another hair analogy [what’s with all the hair?] which comes to mind is planning a dye job a few days before an important event. That first day, the new color is screaming and vibrant. But almost too vibrant. Know what I mean? Like the fiery-red needs to chill out a minute, rest, relax, calm down, age, mellow, whatever.
Phreak Show has been doing all those things.
But, the characters are stirring. The break is over and the cast members are stumbling back onto set. A few are groggy and apparently hungover. Others are chipper and almost too eager to slip back in front of the camera. The propmaster is dusting off the creepy specimens in the Odditorium. The gaffer is ensuring that the sideshow’s Tesla-inspired lighting system is ready for night taping.
If I’m going Paparazzi-Reporter for a minute, I feel compelled to divulge that Tera, in particular, is battling with her nerves. She has recently discovered her new role in the twisted plot and really wants to nail this next batch of scenes. [Sources say she is deadset on an Academy Award this year.] And the growing connection with Niko? Well, they’re both remaining silent on the topic, but they were recently spotted with their lips locked beneath the downspray of a public fountain in Savannah. Not exactly a platonic co-worker kind of move.
So, the stage and actors are ready. So is the Director. I have the loft all to myself for the next 5 days. Guess what that means? We’re gonna finish shooting this thing. Just a few final scenes–jam-packed with emotion, action & major sacrifice–and then we’ll wrap it up and head to editing.
Wish us luck. Tell us to ‘break a leg’ and all that. We’re going back in.
Ahhh! Finally, some more invisible ink. While the “ACTION!” has been slowly building in my throat and moving to the tip of my tongue, a recent event has smacked my back and made me spit out the word. A few days ago, Lit Agent Louise Fury followed me on Twitter. Out of the blue. Like, I haven’t been talking about writing or #PhreakShow or anything. In fact, in the thrust of the holidays and a general hiatus from all things writerly, my Twitter presence has diminished of late. I previously queried her with two other projects and I’m sure I was following her at one point. But when I checked, I had to ‘Follow’ her again. So, I thought the whole thing was interesting, but didn’t revel too much in the thought.
Then, today, I got notification that I had a new comment on the Phreak Show page of this here blog. Guess who it’s from? Yep. Go check it out.