I always thought I'd love writing a serial. But let me just tell you, it sucks. It sucks in the way that eating right and exercising sucks. You know how great it is and you're proud of the results, but it takes such a long time and it's too easy to slip off track.
I love the novel and I doubt I'd have been able to finish it without the pressure of the serial format, but editing a chapter every week—and often, writing and rewriting several chapters, frantically trying to get everything polished and coherent ahead of schedule while editing that week's chapter—gets uncomfortable. And the more I dragged my feet and avoided it, the more my workload built up, the more pressure I was under, the more I wanted to avoid it...
I won't say it's like having teeth pulled. But it may be like the discomfort of telling the dentist that I've flossed, when we all know I haven't flossed.
|Ryan North and Dinosaur Comics on the subject of flossing.|
I know what I wrote while out of town at a gig, while editing and writing my other novellas Integrity and Day Drunk, while getting caught up on what we call bits of chair… and in the last couple of weeks I've been scrambling to rewrite and chapters 30 and 31 while recording and filming with my band.
Most of novel-writing is a blur, one day bleeding into the other, and it's impossible to remember where you were at when you were writing or rewriting a certain part. I remember writing Wire's first visit to Sid's dreary house while sitting on a sun-soaked bench in a public park as gardeners pulled flowers and tossed them aside for the new season's colors. I remember huddling in a blanket at 2am, my keyboard the only sound in the isolated cabin I was renting, rewriting Jordie meeting Luke's friends. When the sun rose I found my first now had fallen outside.
So sometimes memories can stand out, but mostly novels take so long to write, and are such a crisscross of rewrites and edits and new scenes that they get to be like a darned sock. Or something sexier—a tapestry maybe; or that kind of intimidating 20-layers-thick patchwork quilt that you think will win embroidery competitions but instead takes out second place. All anyone sees is that finished tapestry—or that finished sock—and even as the creator it's impossible to keep track of individual stitches.
As a writer, that's what a serial story has done for me: slowed my stitching down until I can see every stitch and am aware and focused on every one. Every individual chapter, I know where I was, what I was doing and what I was thinking. And that's a special experience.