Who Moved My Paragraph?
So there’s this thing that happens while my MS is off to my CPs, or basically anytime I’m stuck in a limbo moment where I’m not writing, and I’m not revising. It is called: THE BAD PLACE.
The Bad Place is a tricky thing, because it starts off like a relief. A quiet little, “Hey, I know you’re not writing and you’re waiting for feedback, but in the meantime, are you SUUUUURE there’s nothing in your MS that needs to be fixed?” And then I shrug, agree with inner demon voice that it would probably be more productive to edit than watching South Park, and then I look. This is usually about the time THE THINGS happen.
What are The Things? They are nonsensical, tedious, wrong but I’m convinced they’re right in the moment EPIC DISASTROUS DECISIONS.
Action beats shouldn’t be in the same paragraph as dialogue. (Um, yes they should.)
The word “Just” is for people who wear Dunce Caps. (No, it’s not.)
I shouldn’t say, I tilt my head at her, just I tilt my head. Cut all at her, at him, at me, etc. (Okay, semi-valid.)
I should revise until my fingers bleed so not a single sentence begins with the word I. (WHAAAAT? First person, present tense. Sentences start with fucking I!)
But these are the sad choices I make when I go to THE BAD PLACE. In some kind of spastic yet silent freak out, I hack at my MS and write new grammar and formatting laws for myself that are backed up with no evidence, just a need to be doing SOMETHING. In my MS.
The results? Usually about 9 hours in to moving paragraph breaks and cutting random lines until every chapter ends exactly 3.7 inches from the bottom of the page BECAUSE YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO HAVE IT LOOK LIKE THAT, GOD TOLD ME, I send a text to my CP. I tell her the mountain of work and stress I’m under. And then there is silence. Until there is the reply.
“So . . . you’ve spent the entire day changing the font on your inner monologue to visually contrast with your spoken dialogue?” my CP says.
“Yes,” I reply. “God said it must be so, and I am a smart, driven woman, who isn’t letting her worries over the replies-to-come from other CPs send her into a perfectionist tailspin when it is wrong to start a sentence with a conjunction or face a thousand lashes from a satanic minotaur.”
“Katie, you are in . . . THE BAD PLACE!”
“No!” I cry. “I am making important, informed decisions about formatting and grammar and—”
“You are in THE BAD PLACE.”
*Realization slowly sets in*
*I glance at my laptop and my mess of a MS*
*I start to cry over all the hours it’ll take me to undo all of this useless “work”*
“Katie . . .” my CP says. “It’s okay. Just hit ‘UNDO’ and we’ll pretend that it never happened. No one has to know!”
*I sniffle, then click UNDO*
Except the thing is, I know I did that. My CP knows I do that, and it’s happened enough that she not only predicts it, but I’m starting to recognize it.
Debated sending MS off to other CPs. Woke up in a blind fit, jotting down ideas on how I needed to fix all these problems that aren’t actually problems, wrote a 4k email to my beta to explain how I was ahead of the game and was going to solve all the things and laugh maniacally with glee when people had realized I was three steps, nay FOUR steps ahead the whole time, and I am INFALLIBLE.
Beta replies. “YOU ARE IN THE BAD PLACE.”
Hmm. Very possibly so.
So I agreed not to do the changes, but to let them live in my email account for the day when I’ll need them. (I’ll need them at some point, right? I mean, I make GOOD decisions. I know there are things that must be fixed and I wil