In his delightful film Day For Night, François Truffaut's character (a film director himself) utters a line I think about often: "Making a film is like a stagecoach ride in the old west. When you start, you are hoping for a pleasant trip. By the halfway point, you just hope to survive." Isn't that how it is for any creative project of scale? Especially a novel where you're forcing yourself to play over your head? Case in point: Shunga-Satori.
Yes, this is another post where I hold my head and groan. Most of this week's progress on draft 2 involved rewriting old material entirely, with only minimal repurposing of what was in draft 1. "Like crawling along the ocean floor," as I described it to a friend. And much of why this has been so frustrating and slow is because of the kind of story I've tasked myself with writing.
Symbolism and nightmare logic are hard to put into a story without feeling like it's a free-for-all, that there are no rules and anything is possible (and therefore nothing actually matters). I'm striving to close that circle and ensure rules of some kind exist, and that the way they work makes sense according to the story's own internal logic, but it may take another couple of drafts to fully tighten that up.
The one thing I am trying most to avoid is offloading to the reader the really important work of making sense of the story. Everything they need to know must be on the page, even if sometimes I have to spell it out and run the risk of seeming obvious. For far too long I shied away from being "obvious", at the risk of making things unnecessarily obscure. Not a risk I can take with a story that lives in the shadows, as it were; such a thing runs the risk of sinking into the shadows altogether and never coming up for air.
Times like these, I envy the folks who bash out template-driven product novels in a couple of months and hustle them on Kindle for a buck each. At least they get something out the door in a timely fashion, right? But that something is then immediately replaced with another something, and another. It's all disposable, and I never wanted to sign my name to anything that would have such an intentionally marginal shelf life.
I knew what I was getting myself into, I really did. Or so I told myself. Anyway, onward. The stagecoach must roll on.