What is it about Mondays?
I did manage to get a chapter done, and it ran long: 3400 words and change. Mind you, that’s a bit better than I thought I’d get done, given how the day started. Of course, I had intended to write two chapters, but that plan just wasn’t going to happen, as was made apparent from early on.
I could easily blame the day on circumstances. I started getting IMs from folks on the GAMA board that needed to be addressed. That meant I needed to read some other stuff, then offer opinions. Not normally hard stuff, but the requests came right as the chapter started getting tough. And then, just when I started going again on things, my father called and needed some help with his computer. Despite having machines running the same OS, I couldn’t duplicate the problem, and likely can’t fix it until the holidays. Still, the research it took to come to that conclusion, while interesting, didn’t get any words down on the page and ate up some time.
Every so often, a book demands a chapter that is a pain in the butt. It requires some set-up and then a big, high-energy finish. The problem with that was simple: the set up I used really put the pieces together such that there wasn’t the need for a high-energy finish. There are times when my tendency to make characters really clever means that the only way chaos happens is if they suddenly get stupid (that will never happen) or unforeseen circumstances toss a monkey-wrench into their plans. While the monkey-wrench in question is perfectly believable, it’s a coincidence, and I pretty much loathe coincidence in fiction.
Why is that? Simple. Coincidence is random. There is no causality. Because there is no causality, the reader has no chance of predicting what might happen. Even when a reader says, “I never saw that coming,” they usually can track back the steps that would have allowed them to get there. If they can’t, if there are no steps, it’s a deus ex machina and not very satisfying.
I was going to rant on about coincidences a lot more, but while writing that paragraph above, I came up with a way to actually put causality back in for this chapter. It’s actually an elegant little solution and will only require a bit of editing here and there. In fact, I can tie it back into something much earlier in the book. So the steps will be there.
This is another thing I love about my job. No one is going to die if a problem is not solved. On the other hand, the solutions can be very cool and often come together quickly. Moreover, the mood I was in at the start of writing this entry has shifted as I become more and more comfortable with the fix. (Yes, I’ve made a note, I’ll fix it in the next draft. And we push forward.)
So, for a writer, I guess the thing about Mondays is this: Mondays are just a day like any other. You pile the words up, figure out fixes, and just keep going. If IMs and phone calls are going to slow you down, you just tell folks, “I’m in the middle of something, let me get back to you.” Chances are no one will die if they have to wait (and if the problem is that dire, why are they talking to you instead of dialing 911?).
No one will die, that is, except for characters, and that can make a Monday very worth while.