After an embarrassingly long gestation period, a first draft of Psycho Ex (with a name change) has finally gone out to its first round of readers. I should get feedback Tuesday after the long weekend.
This always feels weird. I am happy and satisfied and exhausted and not convinced it’s really happening – like the first week after college finals.
But there is a whole different additional dynamic at play with this one than usual, because – due somewhat to the original “Challenge” - it is much more an exercise than a passion project. Don’t get me wrong, the story was my idea, and I take its execution very seriously, but now that a draft is complete I feel “outside” the thing more than I ever have.
The thing I love/hate about writing is that when I work on something this big and all-encompassing, I get overwhelmed and lost inside it. I fall in love with it, and I don’t know if this is a blessing or a curse. It’s wonderful because I think/hope it adds heart and soul to the piece, but it’s terrible because I lose all objectivity and get lost. For long periods. With almost every script, I can vividly remember THE EXACT MOMENT when everything shifts and I come up for air, when I get back “on top of it,” when I get back outside and un-consumed by it and I start cutting and shaping and whacking at it with no emotional attachment whatsoever. This is when the work really gets done. But this is also when I feel guilty, like I’ve stopped loving someone simply because it is no longer the pragmatic thing to do.
I don’t think I was ever in love with this one. I spent a lot of time in the depths with it, don’t get me wrong, but it was never a passion project like Aftershocks was or Dead Guy is. I was more objective with this one all along, so there are parts of it (Act Two hopefully, Act Three definitely) that I think are better executed than my usual output. I would say I’m very happy with the execution on those (this Act Three is probably the best I’ve ever written). But it never took on a life of its own really.
Does this mean it will be less “alive” than it should be? Than it could be? Does this mean there won’t be enough “there” for the reader?
Will the reader know that it has less of a “soul” than it could have had? Or will it just be me?
Or have I finally shaken off the indulgent crap of falling in love with your material? Have I finally got on with the real business of writing?
Update: Just got my first feedback (thanks Tammy!). The weekend is off to a good start…