I'm working on a novella, one I started a few months ago, and I'm fascinated by how it is making its way into the world.
At the moment it consists of several documents filled with random musings and unconnected scenes and stray thoughts about the plot and character arcs and the black moment. It feels like a big ole pile of raw ingredients that my brain plopped down in front of me, challenging me to turn it into something appetizing. I'm sifting through all of it, intrigued at how one scene has at least a couple different variations. Clearly it's one that has enchanted me from the beginning, and I imagine it will be the setpiece of the whole thing.
Right now it feels like when I'm trying to attack the clutter in a room, wondering how it got that way, and even worse, how it will ever NOT be a big messy sprawling pile of stuff. Some days I wish there was a different way for my stories to come into existence. It would take the sport out of it, I suppose, because I kind of like digging through and seeing what my brain has conjured up.
It's like going through boxes of stuff I've accumulated over the years, determined to pare it down, but then I get distracted with, "Oh! I remember this!" Next thing I know I'm reading a book I forgot I had, or glancing through pictures that I thought were lost. I gather all of it together and realize I've completely missed my original goal of "organizing", but I've had a heck of a great time traipsing down memory lane.
Writing my stories can be like that, too, when I come back to them after having set them aside for a while. I'm excited to read what I've written because it feels brand-new to me. I'm glad I recorded what my characters said, because I love seeing how sexy and clever they are, especially when at the time I thought they were being bratty and uncooperative.
To an outsider, my writing method may seem sloppy or unproductive, and I would think the same if I wasn't the one involved in it. Heck, I feel that way too when it feels like I'm trying to hold onto all these ideas and story threads and it would be easier to do just about anything but make sense of all of it. But I have to admit I like all these random bits and bobs and the potential they possess, but I really like when I can finally see the big picture and how it all fits together.
Sometimes a story has to be condensed down into a smaller pile, from the bigger pile it started out as, and then I polish that smaller pile until it is an actual story with scenes and chapters that make sense. In the process, a lot gets thrown aside, but it's never wasted. It's kind of like calisthenics for my brain I think. It needs to stretch and warmup and try out different ideas and then I have to decide which muscle group we're working on for the day.
So it may start out as a big gooey unmanageable mess. And every time I swear it's the last time I'm going to write anything ever again. But then I see its smiling face when it's all cleaned up and polished to perfection, and I forget that it made me question my sanity in the process.
It's always worth it.