In the year since I started this blog, I’ve been exercising more and dieting. The result has been some solid weight loss which I’m thrilled about, but also a daily reminder of the gratification I get when I’ve pushed through something hard. For example, the beginning of my workout is a solid half hour on the treadmill, steadily increasing my speed as I go. After about ten minutes in I’m willing to take any excuse to quit. At fifteen minutes it sucks more, and by the time I hit 25 minutes I’m done. But I committed to 30 minutes, not counting five extra minutes of cool down time after the thirty. So I push through, reminding myself I just have to do five more minutes. I’ve put together several playlists that runs 30 minutes and put the same track at the end of each as a reminder to push hard through that last stretch. As soon as I hit that cool down period, I switch from looking for any excuse to quit to believing I’m awesome and could have kept going. I’m lying to myself then, but it feels good, so hey, why not?
I mention this because, in that same year, I’ve also been writing a novel. It’s going to be dark fantasy/horror, pure genre all the way. As you can tell from the material I review here, I’m a bit of a fan of this class of fiction , so that’s what I’m writing. I’m about three quarters of the way through a first draft that can generously be described as rough, but it’s now three quarters of a novel, so I’m taking it. The connection to the exercise story above is, being genre, the fun part is in writing the major set pieces. Those stretches of action where your characters are chasing or being chased, where they’re making love, or where they’re tapping into their hidden magical talents to conjure great power. These scenes are those last five minutes. They’re the parts that are such fun to write because they’re why you chose the project in the first place, and seeing them on the page and out of your head feels deeply satisfying.
But you don’t get those last five minutes until you do the first 25. And in the same way, I can’t write a chase scene you’ll want to read until you give a damn about the people being chased. So before I can get my thrill of writing fun set pieces, I need to tell you who the characters are. I have to set up those dominoes before I can knock them down. Sometimes I’m tempted to take any shortcut possible to get past that work and get to the fun stuff, but then I’m not writing for an audience, am I?
So I push, reminding myself how good it’ll feel once I’ve earned the right to write that scene. Because I’m going to finish this thing, and when I do I’m going to put it in front of people to read, and when that happens I want them to be entertained. Now I’m about to get back on the treadmill, I’ll know I’m nearly done when this comes on: