I looked up the definition:
Monster – an imaginary creature that is typically large, ugly, and frightening.
My first reaction when reading that definition? It sounds like a manuscript in progress to me.
It’s fictional (therefore imaginary). It’s large (and gets larger and larger because the thought of deleting any of those hard-fought words is painful). It’s ugly (because so many of those words undoubtedly suck). And frightening. Yes, downright scary. Because in the middle of words, sentences, paragraphs and chapters I’m never really sure that what I’m writing is actually a book. Or even a story.
A work in progress is a monster that needs to be tamed. It needs to learn who’s boss and fall into its rightful place. But lots of the time I feel like I’m the one taking a beating. Scenes aren’t going the way I want them to, flow isn’t flowing, and that pivotal plot point? Snooze city.
Sometimes it kicks my ass. I’ve got two monsters kicking my ass right now. And a few more monsters trying to be born in my head (I keep telling them to wait their turn, sometimes they listen but mostly they flip me off).
When I think about the ten monsters I’ve managed to actually let loose into the world, it occurs to me that those gnarly, unruly monsters learned to be domesticated because I learned to not try to tame them. Instead I let them run loose, even if they made a mess. Because that’s the thing about monsters. They can be pretty interesting if you just let them be themselves and not try to change them. They can actually become good monsters that are quite likeable. But it takes a very patient, trusting person to let a monster take control and lead the way down dark hallways and into deep, unexplored woods.
So maybe I shouldn’t be trying to keep my two current monsters in a cage with little room to move because I’m afraid to let them take the lead. Maybe I should sit back and trust that the monsters won’t eat me alive and leave me a mere skeleton of my former self. Because that’s the thing about monsters – you never know when their smile is one of friendship and kindness, or if they’re about to bare their teeth and eat you for lunch.