There comes a point in the birth of a novel when your perception of its quality morphs from a shiny gem full of promise to a pile of refuse steaming in the New York summer sun, redolent of piss and feet and failure. This point is different for everyone, but for me it tends to slither along right around the time I’m reaching a hard-won milestone in the life of the manuscript — in this case, the end of the second draft.
The characters, previously so endearing and unique, begin to feel like stale automatons parroting tired cliches. The setting, once a wonderland of color and surprises, begins to bleach to beige. The plot, so vital and twisty and cunning, wheezes like an old man set in his routine. And the writing! God, even the Bard himself couldn’t do anything with that pathetic prose. Not worth the price of the pixels displaying it! Just drag it across the screen to the trash bin and set yourself free!
These thoughts crowd in your head, shoving out everything else, and cramp up your fingers till it’s agony to type even a single word. Worst of all, though, is that slutty little new idea that’s been flirting and taunting for the last few months. It’s promising you a new novel, one that’s alive and fresh and certain to be your breakout story. “Put down that flabby old cow of a second draft,” it purrs. “Come hither unto me.”
This little peccadillo of a problem, of course, is all an illusion. It’s the work of the evil magician, Lazy Miranda.
There’s nothing wrong with the novel I’ve been laboring on for the last 17 months. On the contrary, with the application of just a bit more concentrated effort it’s going to start really singing for the first time. But evil Lazy Miranda doesn’t want that. She doesn’t want to put time into anything that reeks of “hard work”. She wants to watch Dancing with the Stars and eat too much chocolate and think about new ideas. AND SHE MUST BE DESTROYED.
Well…let me amend that slightly. She must be destroyed as soon as Dancing with the Stars is over.