I’m so frustrated, I could make spaghetti with ketchup. Anyone that knows me that is like fighting words, vomit, or like finding out that McDonald’s is dropping the seasonal McRib sandwich again; there is anger, dismay, a feeling of being out of control. I’m all about the San Marzano tomatoes, a can of paste, and a cup of wine when I make spaghetti sauce. Mangled pork, in any configuration, with plenty of barbeque sauce, onions, pickles, etc. should be on the menu all the time. The McRib is like the McDonald’s version of White Castle Hamburgers; I buy them by the sack! Writing sometimes frustrates me to the point where I feel like I’m writing ‘spaghetti with ketchup’ instead of taking the time to make the good stuff. It’s a challenge sitting at the computer, setting the focus of my mind, turning on the music, and go into another world for a while. Writing is one of those things that can be described as agony and ecstasy. Guess what I’m feeling now? It’s been a whole week since I’ve had the chance since I’ve put the preverbal ‘pen to paper’ but today I had some free time over lunch to go into my special world. Most real writers have the cavalier attitude of ‘just do it’ and when I’m in that zone, I can crank out words as much as anyone. Well, not anyone, but at least as good as average literate person. I can spin a phrase or two and soon I’m looking at the bottom of the page ready to go on to the next.
I guess I’m a little concerned. I’ve been revising my new novel Mariline, and I’ve been making some major changes. Yes, it worked fine the way it was, but ‘fine’ is just not enough. I want people to ask questions, wonder, want to rip off all their clothes, punch their neighbors, and scratch their head. I threw out the last 10 chapters and rendered an entirely new ending. I think it’s really come together. I’ve cut scenes. I’ve edited down others to make it streamline, accessible, and clean. It gets right to the story, it doesn’t wait around for things to happen. It has morphed from a scattered NANOWRIMO novel of three years ago, into some monster of a thing. I think will make a statement, and that statement has an explanation point at the end of it, along with some choice verbs and nouns. I have to say that because what kind of writer would I be without some braggadocio?
So between having to go the distance like a bloody and beaten prize fighter, and adding more pertinent scenes, I’m staring at a chapter trying to eke out some content. The flickering computer screen is filled with swirling words; some that make sense and others that are merely there as placeholders for others. Like a sculptor or a painter, I see the medium before me, ready to get my fingernails dirty and my hands all full with slop, hoping not to pull or paint over the beauty and thus make it ugly, losing the meaning, the purpose, the value.
There is a tight rope a writer travels over when revising. You need to keep fidelity to the story. You need to keep it tight and clean. But you also have to know when your poetic bullshit is too much, no matter how much you and the Gods have told you they love it. Bring back McRIBS!!
EJ Eisman is the author of the novels Spoon Girl and Malaise, published by AuthorHouse. He resides in Reading, PA and is also a musician, artist, playwright, actor and filmmaker