Today I am facing down a mess of notes, a patchy first draft, and a second draft gone cold after fifty pages. So many little notes, character tidbits, scraps of dialogue that don't attach to anything, abandoned narrative trails... I'm supposed to somehow pull these far-flung elements together and produce some kind of outline for draft three: the draft that will save the world.
I can see the outline in my mind: it will be breathtaking in its neatness and order. I picture it taped to my largest wall, in neat rows of index cards--each card bearing a sweet little description, a tiny plot nugget. All the plot layers and subplots running in rows; sections of chapters in columns. It would read like a conductor's score, I think. For some great, to-be-played symphony.
Only I can't stop freaking out about the sheer volume of notes, in so many places, and so, so disorganized. I actually need a new word, something beyond disorganized to convey the sheer catastrophe that's smoldering on my desk and in my computer.
I did the only sensible thing I could think of: I ate fudge.
I think Hemingway recommended fudge, right? Or maybe Flannery O'Connor? Or actually, wait, maybe that's just me.
Here's my writing advice to you: When your outline is just a dream and your book has exploded and you're sure, deep down in your marrow that you are far too stupid to ever be a writer (in spite of years of hard work)...
Go eat fudge.
And then make some tea and go start a blog. Start chatting to strangers out of thin air. Bare your soul online.
A heck of a lot easier than making sense of those notes.