Monday, November 19, 2007

Literary Road Kill

It's that time of year up here in the land of beer and cheese. The boys and girls in the blaze orange hit the woods and the deer start to lose their minds. And, if my drive home from Milwaukee from a fantastic book conference last weekend was any indication, deer have not evolved enough to gauge the speed of 4000 pound hunks of metal rolling along at 80 miles per hour. I started counting the deer along side the road, but lost count somewhere around Madison. So I popped in a Bob Marley CD and wondered if deer believe in everliving life and are followers of Jah. I've never seen a deer with dreadlocks, but they do eat a lot of grass.... Yes, thus are the musings of a writer alone in a car on a long road trip.
And not so unlike those deer on the side of the road, I too am on the side of the road with my current work. Meaning, I'm at a stage in the process where I think, "Who in their right mind would want to read this drivel?" Yes, I'm at the stage of Literary Road Kill. And like the deer going nuts every fall, I too know that I will go through this stage in every single novel I write. I will second guess myself. I will peer out from the bushes at the Mack trucks that scream by thinking, "Should I go now? Shit! Too late! Okay, should I go now? Will this be the right time?" To be perfectly honest, I won't ever know. Again, like the deer, I fear I will never evolve enough to figure out how to time it just right. I'm just hoping that my timing is good enough that I don't end up Literary Road Kill.


Nina Wright said...

Literary roadkill--what an image!

I know the feeling, Mark. The only way to conquer it is to keep my seat in the seat 'til I write past the fear. For that day.

When I require a change of scene, I get into my Mazda and try not to hit a deer.

Keith Raffel said...

I think it was Julie Smith who said, "Don't get it right, get it written." In other words, worry about making it good in a later draft.

And when it comes to deer on the highway, I highly recommend reading Cynthia Kaplan's Leave the Building Quickly wherein she wonders why deer ignore the rules of natural selection

Mark Terry said...

So I've finally come full circle.

My 9th grade English teacher, Doug Ricketts, once commented that you can't trust review blurbs, the ones that say:

"Tantalizing and fresh!"

Because the full quote was:

"As tantalizing and fresh as road kill."

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Great timing with the post, Mark! You hit the deer right on the noggin. I'm just about done with my 4th Odelia Grey novel and even though my draft readers, who I trust to not give me lip service, love it and think it's even better than #3, I'm still filled with doubt. I guess that's natural for a writer. Our real worry should start the day we think we've written a "masterpiece" because then we probably have written the drivel we fear.

Make room in the bushes for your pals, Bambi.

Mark Combes said...

I'm with you Sue Ann. I was listening to an interview with Paul Newman (I want to be him when I grow up) say that he always is scared on the set - and he wants it that way. Being scared means it's important to you. That you want to get it right. The minute it isn't scary anymore, you've lost your edge.

Joe Moore said...

I wake up every morning at 4:00 AM scared to death that the fraud police will beat down my door and charge me with Hacking in the First Degree.

Felicia Donovan said...

What's that address, Joe?

Mark, great post. Freezing in the headlights and not moving is what gets you killed. Dashing across the road and taking chances is what gets you from here to there and maybe to the bucks and doe.

G.M. Malliet said...

Mark - Yesterday I felt as you describe. Today I'm thinking the manuscript is not so bad. It literally changes from day to day and the hard thing is to tell if it's just my mood of the moment or if it's the manuscript!

I think being plain tired has a lot to do with it--I'm coming into the home stretch on this one and I've read it a few dozen times by now, one way and another.