Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Synopsis gives me headaches

First, the Nurse Molly Pin I have on (thank you, Houston Street Flea Market and forgive the blurry cell phone shot. My hand looks the size of Jupiter!) is indicative of my writing state of mind. I need Valium!
I know, I know. I make my students write synopsis because I feel that when you have 300 pages of mess and you don't know where you are, writing out a synopsis of your novel can help you identify story holes and pacing problems. Having one when you are starting out (and knowing you will probably throw out everything but the main idea which urges you to write) is helpful, too. But I agonize over my synopsis. I start surfing the net to see if it's too late for me to go to dental school (yup. It is.) I stare at it and think why did I ever imagine that I could write a grocery list, let alone a novel? The characters sound moronic, the plot forced, and the theme like something that should be in a fortune cookie. I pull out my Truby Story Structure notes and stare at them and then go alphabetize my books. I make notes and print them out and them hurl them on the floor. (My office is not exactly neat. When I had a job job, my review always said, "Excellent work, but you need to keep a tidier office."

I have one main reader who reads my stuff and I showed it to her and got the OK. (Bless her, bless her.) But here's a question: why can't I give myself the okay? Why can't I be sure of my own work? I can look at my students' writing and tell what needs to be done. I can look at my private client's manuscripts and know what they should do. But with myself? Clueless. Absolutely clueless. Sometimes I believe that every other writer knows exactly what he or she is doing at every moment. This other writer sits down gleefully, writes twenty pages a day in a heartbeat (and they are GOOD pages) and never agonizes over a single syllable.

Of course I also believe that huge quantities of chocolate are good for you.


Clea Simon said...

oh Caroline! This sounds so familiar!

With one exception - when I'm writing I usually love what I'm writing> But as soon as I'm done, I'm sure it's crap. Or at least not very good. In fact, I have a manuscript that I've put aside to re-read and I'm afraid to look at it. I think the opening is good (it should be, I've rewritten it a dozen times). And as I recall, I like the ending. But the middle 250 pages, well, I'm worried about them.

Maybe we'll both get some confidence for the new year?

Leora Skolkin-Smith said...

Caroline, your new book and every single book you've written before your new book is glorious work! I understand the confidence problem since I'm a fellow sufferer in spades, but really, I want to tell the world what a brilliant writer you are. Sometimes I think it's the most talented writers who lack confidence...

Caroline said...

Clea, I so envy that you love what you're writing and God, wouldn't life be fabulous with confidence? Leora, you're too good to me. I think this is why I love teaching at UCLA and working with other writers so much--they're so bold and so brave about their work--posting up work in progress for all to see, and so brave about risk. It pushes me more to see that.

And of course, the only solution for my raging worry is writing, writing, writing!