Do you know Howard “Wood” Ingham?
Guy who helped write some of the best and creepiest parts of the World of Darkness, and Hunter: The Vigil in particular? No? What about the guy who’s written some crazy powerful stuff that’s just sitting there, free for your eyeholes, right here on the web? Perhaps you know him from his short collection, Why The Others Were Taken…? Do you follow him on Twitter, at least? I mean, c’mon.
What I’m saying is, Wood’s been saying some interesting shit lately. See, he’s writing a novel. The approach he’s taking with this book is, best as I can tell, that he is writing a crazy apeshit insane coda of sex and violence all bundled up in a book that — at least, in theory, the market being what it is — commercially viable. This is not his normal style, though certainly in the game industry he’s rubbed elbows with it.
If I were to lend this approach name, I might call it, mmm, let’s see…
The “Who Gives A Fuck It’s Time To Kick Down My Brain Doors And See What Tumbles Out” Approach.
He has absolved himself of any worries over quality.
And in doing so, he seems to be coming along quite nicely.
And, even better, he seems to be enjoying the process overall.
Further, I know what will be the result, both in his first draft and moreso with subsequent drafts: the quality that he does not care about will be nevertheless present, like a ghost he unwittingly invited into the room. Wood does not write without quality. He could write a pamphlet about the breeding habits of the curious cattle egret and, I promise you, it would be a deeply compelling and surprisingly artful pamphlet.
Wood is doing something very right, here. We could all use to take the lesson. That lesson, put brashly, is to loosen your mind sphincter a little bit — and open up the ol’ gag reflex — and let the novel come out of you. Or enter you, sexually, in the night, like an incubus. Uhhh. Wait, maybe that’s not it. No, no, what I mean to say is, you need to chill out. “Chillax,” as all the cool kids are saying.
Absolve yourself of worry. (For now.) Push fears of inadequacy and uncertainty toward the margins. Write what you can write, and — at least for your first novel — embrace the enjoyment of that.
Because here, I suspect, is the secret: if you’re relaxed about it — if, frankly, you don’t care so damn much — then you’re going to find that the novel flows more freely. You’re going to cross that finish line with far greater ease, and on the first draft it’s all about crossing the field of war without getting your head shot off. Crossing the finish line is the biggest thing that most wanna-be writers never do.
Stop putting so much pressure on yourself. Don’t worry — you have a second, third, fifth, seventeenth, and five-hundred-and-forty-third draft if you want it and if the story needs it. Quality will live hidden in the margins of that first draft and subsequent drafts will help draw it to the surface. I’m not saying don’t plan, I’m not saying don’t think about what you’re doing, but I am saying give into it, and get shut of the pressure.
Don’t care so much.
You care too much, and that gives into worry.
And worry gives into fear.
And fear creates goiters.
No, wait — fear stops you from doing That Which Is Most Important when it comes time to write your novel: the actual writing of the novel. The part where you finish it. The part where you have a draft in your hands, all the words contained within rising to your ears like the beautiful cooing and burbling of a newborn baby. A newborn baby born from the sexual union of you and a night-stalking incubus. Mmm. “Baby Inky.”
Okay, I really need more coffee.
Write what you want to write. Write without abandon. Put worry out of your mind.
Write so that it’s fun to finish the book.
Now go say the Writer’s Prayer seven times backwards.