Glue in the Head

Stuck. Looking at the manuscript. Not in detail, just the mass of it flat on the table. 74 pages of Calibri Regular, unevenly spaced. Sheets of notes torn up and spliced in with sticky tape. Hand-written jots in the margins, sometimes spanning pages, the only indication of place given by asterisks and little numbers in circles. Endless circles.

On top of the manuscript are two transparent pockets: one containing structural and thematic instructions that sound almost like I know what I’m doing, and another containing cut-ups and material that hasn’t found a place in the manuscript yet but I’m not willing to part with. They still belong with the project, those scraps, and you can’t convince me otherwise.

The manuscript is incoherent. It is a collection of thoughts, conversations, asides and experimental flash. The bulk of the glue still lives in my head and in those pocketed instructions, the transference of which will always be the most difficult part of writing. The abyss all ideas must jump over if they are to become a reality.

If I can pull off what I have planned, this manuscript will be the best thing I’ve ever made. But there’s an ever-present fear that I won’t pull it off, that I can’t. That this story, with its genre-crossing and its psychodrama and its multi-layered narrative, was never meant to exist on this dimension.

I don’t think this is imposter syndrome. I’m not particularly concerned with other writers doing a better job or that readers won’t get it. The latter is a possibility – no, an inevitability – with something so far from the trodden path. But that’s not what concerns me in its creation. What does concern me is that I might not meet my own vision, either through lack of skill or ever-moving targets.

Because the person I am is changing all the time. I’ve written about this before: one of the challenges in writing long-form lies in maintaining the same view for long enough to write the whole thing. To contain it, to stop it evolving and sprawling forever as you grow. Until you cut it loose and call it done, the manuscript is part of your person.

Flash is different. Flash can be written in a single sitting, from a single perspective. It can capture a vibe. Flash is a snapshot from your phone as opposed to a curated setting with lighting and an expensive camera. So I suppose that’s what I need to carry into this manuscript. I need to give it the essence of many snapshots collaged together to make an accidentally curated whole.

I think I’m ready to dive back in now. Thanks for the chat.

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