It’s happened. I knew it was only a matter of time — and if I’m honest with myself, it was never that much time to begin with — before I blew a tire.
No, I know, just this weekend I posted about how swimmingly the edit is going, how happy and fun everything is, how much it surprises me that things aren’t as bad as I thought. But they are. Things are undoubtedly as bad as I thought and even worse than I feared.
It’s like this time about a year ago. I was driving with my wife to pick up my dad and my brother at the airport. We took our Camry, which is a tank of an old car, but its tires were nearing the end. They were so near the end, in fact, that the car would wobble when it got up above 45 miles per hour. I knew a blowout was likely if not imminent, but I wanted to pretend that things were fine and that the tires were good for a little bit longer. But sure enough, as we’re tooling down I-75, there’s an unmistakable BOOM flapflapflapflapflap and the car is pulling hard to the right like a hamstrung horse.
This — editing this novel — is a little different, in that I can’t really get proactive and go put new tires on the thing before I set out for the airport. The edit itself is about fixing the tires, and replacing the motors in the power windows, and that burned out blinker, and the sandpaper windshield wipers, and that crack in the rearview, and getting that shudder in the transmission checked on. In short, the whole damn car needs work if I hope to sell it, and make no mistake, the ultimate goal is to sell it (the novel, not the car).
Still, I knew the blowout was coming, and today I hit the first. Probably the first of many.
There’s this moment in the first act. It’s awfully hokey. Like, for all intents and purposes, my protagonist and his sidekick basically accept as a given the weird sharknado that’s going down, break out the fringed vests and start singing Bob Dylan like everything’s gonna be cool. And, to be fair, it helped Past Me to get past that troublesome moment and move on with more conflicts and more plot development. And the stuff that comes after is good. Problem is, when Present Me (then Future Me) goes to fix the Koombaya moment by removing the hokeyness from it, the entirety of the pages immediately following begin leaning like a house of cards built on sand in a windstorm. AND I KNEW IT WAS COMING. This is the part of the draft where Past Me started leaving a whole lot of messages to Future Me (now Present Me) which are sometimes as helpful as “go back and write a little bit of exposition for this particular thing” but more often as useless as “THIS SUCKS, HAVE FUN FIXING IT LOSER”. I’d be laughing if that weren’t an actual note I actually came across in my parsing today.
It’s pretty clear that Past Me was just having his jollies on the promise of Future Me coming round to clean up the sticky bits on the carpet, and again, I knew at the time that I was doing just that. In fact, I remember pretty clearly while I was drafting having a good laugh at what a jerk I was acting like toward this hypothetical Future Me that was going to have to deal with the angry neighbors and the ruined wallpaper. It makes me want to hit that guy. Because now I’m looking at a draft — about 20,000 words into it — and it’s as holey as a hand grenade of Antioch. As porous as the freaking Falcons’ defense. As flimsy as the Braves’ chances of making the postseason. (GOD, it was an awful weekend for sports in Atlanta.)
Don’t get me wrong. I know that the hardest part — the writing, the creating, the sheer calling from nothingness into being of this thing — is behind me. But the task ahead ain’t all sunshine and lemondrops. I can’t even say it’s peanut butter sandwiches and leftover pizza. It’s looking more like a torrential downpour of excrement and a slog through alligator-infested swamps. And my tires have blown out, so I have to go the whole thing on foot. Not that my Camry was going to make much progress in a damn swamp… okay, too many mixed metaphors. The point is, the proverbial sharknado is hitting the proverbial fan and the work is about to get real.
But tomorrow is another day, and it all gets simplified down to manageable bites on my to-do list for another Further Future Me. Man, I feel sorry for that guy.