Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Nirvana Phase

An alternate Nirvana :)
I'm at that Nirvana place in my current WIP.

From what I've gleaned from fellow writers, the writing process has a common arch. There's the initial beginning struggle when the world you're creating is tenuous at best.

While I've heard some people rhapsodize about that phase, for me it's the hardest part of the creative process. The place where I have to set defined word goals in order to keep my book from languishing in the land of almosts and could have beens.

The first draft is followed directly by the beastly first edit. The first time I re-read my words and take a fresh look at the people I've been living with on the page, day in and day out. The first draft is ALWAYS, without fail, cringeworthy!!

Somewhere between the first and second edit the book starts to settle in, become something real. That's my favorite writing place. It's also when the book becomes a home away from home. It's a place I can go for refuge. It doesn't matter if my Tweenpod is slamming doors or the men two tables over are talking about politics at a volume that's disturbing everyone in the coffee shop, I can jump into my creation and disappear for hours.

That's where I am right now. There's pleasure in the process. I look at my watch and realize hours have slipped away and I've been inadvertently muttering the words I'm writing out loud, in public, like a crazy lady in the corner on her laptop.

My characters might be dark. Bad things might happen in the world I created. Sad things too, but it still becomes a place I crave, a treasured addiction like chocolate or coffee.

Even though the end of this book has yet to be written, it's in sight. If I stretch out long with my mental fingers I can even feel it. This should be good news, but I have to admit it's exhilaration mixed with the bittersweet knowledge that soon (sooner than I'm ready for it to happen) it'll be time to move out of the safety of this world and into the awkward birth and creation phase of the next one.

Lucky for me I know the Nirvana phase exists and will be there waiting for me with each subsequent book.

What about you? Do you get a little sad when you're in the homestretch of your work in progress?

14 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

As soon as I finish the first draft, I hit Nirvana. Editing is much more enjoyable.

Beylit said...

I do get a little sad in that homestretch, but I find it exciting as well.

Michael Di Gesu said...

Hi, Johanna,

I actually LOVE to dig into the second, third, fourth drafts... But by the thirtieth, I get weary. LOL.

Congrats on finishing....

Barbara Watson said...

My Nirvana hits after the first draft. It's so much easier for me to work with something that's there. But the homestretch of a project does make me wistful. It's bittersweet.

jaybird said...

Oh I can only hope to get to that "Nirvana" stage one day...not quite there yet. I am drowning in edits and never seem to come up for air. It's frustrating. But I do, like you, love to lose myself in the world I've created.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

By the time I was writing my fifth book, I was ready for it to end. Once I hit that point though, it was a little sad.

Crystal Collier said...

YES! And then I have to supplement with cheese, find myself five good books to read, and pull out some old projects to see if I can't stay productive. I'm hoping your ending comes together like a bear lodging in his winter cave. =)

Elise Fallson said...

I've never reached the Nirvana phase as you've described it, but it makes me want to keep going to see if I can reach it. Awesome you've gotten to that place, must be special. :)

Neurotic Workaholic said...

It bothers me too when people talk too loudly in cafes; I don't expect everyone to be completely silent, but it's similar to when people blast their music at top volume on the buses and trains. They don't consider how their music or their voices affect other people.
I like what you said about how the book becomes your refuge; that's something I can relate to. Writing fiction and creative nonfiction is my refuge from all the academic writing I have to do (and read).

Dianne K. Salerni said...

Yes, I get sad when I am in the home stretch, although the fast paced schedule of the series I'm currently working on hasn't allowed me much room to miss my completed WIPs. However, when I turn in the completed final book in the series, I expect to have a total meltdown!

The second draft stage is MY favorite part, too! That's the time when I finally realize what the whole thing is about. I may not nail it in that draft (ok, I'll never nail it in that draft), but at least I know what I'm working towards.

First drafts kill me.

BTW, how close is McLean to Alexandria? I'll be visiting a bookstore in Alexandria 5/17. Is that your neck of the woods?

Misha Gericke said...

Yeah I always get separation anxiety when I finish projects.

Don't know why, but I can't help it. :-/

Kristin Smith said...

I loved reading your post, Johanna! I always get a little sad after I complete a project. I miss being immersed into that world. I miss the characters I created and being a part of their story.

It's always a little daunting when I first start a new project because blank pages stare back at me and I know it's my job to fill those pages with unforgettable characters and a meaningful story. It's fun, exciting, but also a venture into the unknown. But once I find my stride, I feel like you-addicted. It is such an awesome feeling, isn't it? :)

A Beer For The Shower said...

Ooh, I love the Nirvana phase. For me it's when I've reached about 20,000 words and I know that I've truly formed a novel. There's no going back now. From then on out it all just seems to be coasting downhill.

Scribbles From Jenn said...

Nirvana sounds like a wonderful place and I hope to get there in my writing one day, too. Congratulations on getting there!