On The Writing Process (if what I do can be called that)

Well, it is writing, of course, even if the procedural aspect of it is reduced to poking the keys on the iPhone’s keyboard (wrong ones more often than not, recently) with numb fingers (or picking more or less right keys with a stylus—while struggling to keep it from slipping out of my numb grip).

And yet the velocity of soiling the virtual paper with the magical symbols is not as important as deciding which they are and what they say.

For years, my writing process was as follows (despite the fact that I never published anything, it is true—I do have a process, and I have had it for a while now): I write a scene, go over it, change something (always), start another scene, export the current draft of the manuscript as an e-book (.epub), open it in iBooks, read the last few scenes I just wrote, mark the things which I have to change, go back to the Scrivener file, fix it, export it again, and read again. If the result sounds decent, I call it a First Draft.

After poking around a few online writing communities, however, I have come to a surprising (and somewhat pleasant) realization that for quite a few of my fellow wordsmiths that would qualify as at least draft three, if not four.

I am not judging them. I am only trying to justify the speed (or rather lack of it) of my own process, which is so slow for an ostensibly good reason. I do hope that I will have to edit less when the project enters the revision stage if I am working with higher quality material. Unless I have to re-write something to support a recent plot change, and that would trigger my regular first-x-4 draft routine, but even then I should have less work to do.

So I am good. In theory.

Not as much in practice where that pesky pet crawfish comes into the picture. I thought we had it tamed, and it felt like it for a while, but, apparently, something changed when my doctor took me off one drug—the one which caused sensitivity to cold and tingling in my fingers and toes—it feels like the Alien’s embryo is growing again.

And that is very annoying.

The thing about deadly diseases (I am a diagnosis authority now, hence allowing myself the vast generalization): if you can forget about yours for at least a few minutes, you are good. You can concentrate on the proverbial things you can change, and even get carried away a little, spending an hour or a few actually working (writing or otherwise) instead of faking it more of less convincingly while waiting for another Percocet to kick in.

Even the inevitable deterioration of your body can be dealt with—how many weeks was it since I picked up the cane (or since my left hip decided to quit on me)? Two, three? I went through the last two chemo sessions, already using it, so it must have been at least three. I am so used to it now that I can hardly imagine myself without my trusty walking stick. The good thing is that it works—for now—and while I must look like Sand dan Glokta, I can hop around almost without pain.

But if you are in constant discomfort (I am going to avoid using the word pain because the strength of it is less relevant than its presence), indulging yourself with any kind of pleasant or productive time becomes quite difficult—sometimes it is simply impossible to concentrate on anything rather than that damn discomfort—and that leads to thoughts running away in a direction where they really shouldn’t.

I am hanging somewhere in-between—the combination of low-dose Morphine and occasional shots of Percocet (I was given permission to take two at a time now, yay) seems to keep me running for now with my mood perpetually swinging between “…I, like, totally know how to finish this scene/chapter/whatever and I have such a great idea for the next one…” and “…I really doubt that I can physically bring this enormous monstrosity to some sort of a meaningful point…”; I guess I have to learn to operate within the given parameters while patiently waiting for the moment when I will turn from a patient into a mere conduit for syphoning funds from my insurance company to my hospital.

But what choice do I have, really?

Next scan in a few days (this just in—the insurance company did not approve PET scan—too expensive—going with CT scan instead—good, I can drink the day before). Mirror, mirror on the wall…

Really have to get back to Stormhold. The kid is about to set something on fire; I need to be there to make sure nothing goes according to plan… as soon as the Percocet kicks in.

Also published on Medium.

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