Writing is driving me…

Writing is driving me crazy lately. More specifically, Arbitrary Passions is driving me crazy. Writing creative nonfiction is damn hard, in a way that I never had trouble with in fiction. N. recently posted in her blog some criteria for good CNF that she uses with her students: image recurrence/evolution, narrative propulsion, voice, and place/space rootedness.

I think I'm doing decently on all of them except narrative propulsion. I am having a VERY tough time with finding the narrative propulsion in a nonfiction book. The book has memoir sections and travelogue sections, and for both of them, I just want to write essentially this happened, then this happened, then this happened. Because that makes sense, and is logical, and is how it happened, dammit. But that doesn't necessarily make for good narrative propulsion (or narrative tension, is probably how I would have phrased it).

This book is drafted, start to finish. I've revised much of it over and over and over again. I want to just give it to Bob, say "okay, it's done, tell me what you think." I want him to love it. I want to get it out there in the world, hopefully for someone to buy it. I am so sick of working on this book. But I also think that the book is not yet everything it could/should be. And most especially, that it is lacking in narrative propulsion. And also could use some more scenes. Dammit.

I know I should go back and open it up slowly, looking at one chapter at a time and seeing how I would shape it if I were a short story, but I just end up staring at the chapters and feeling like they're done, they're in fixed form, I know they're not right but I don't know HOW to fix them, and maybe what I need at this stage is a real editor to first a) buy the book and b) give me a real deadline for finishing it and c) tell me, chapter by chapter, exactly how to fix it. But no one has the time to do that anymore.

I have two novels I want to get going on, but this one is so close to done that I can't seem to go on to any of the others. But I don't want to work on this one, which is making me not want to write at all, which is making me cranky and interfering with my sleep.

I'm going to go try to write a poem now. Maybe I can do that, at last.

3 thoughts on “Writing is driving me…”

  1. What would you tell your students to do? Would you tell them to take it to their writing group and get some fresh input? Would you tell them to put it on the shelf for 2 or 3 months, work on something else, and go back to it?

  2. How about picking up a memoir/travelogue to see how another author has handled chapter structure etc.? That might give you some ideas.

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