The summer seminar I'm taking part in is drawing to a close, and that means getting a presentation of work accomplished together. I'm trying to synthesize it in some way, and have some focal point, all while tying it in to the themes, large and small, of the seminar. Herding cats, I tells ya'.
In any case, today marked another ka-chunk step forward, where I began grappling with the Big Idea. And here's the problem: I really, really want this big idea to work. But I'm at the stage where I'm pushing it ahead of me and pretending that I'm following where it leads. And it's at that kind of tipping point where you get a wrenching feeling in your gut that comes from knowing that the next big push might see you either break through and really understand what you're trying to do, or fuck it up beyond all recognition, and not understand that you've done that until you're too far into the process to remember where you were, and what you thought before you started flogging the Big Idea.
I've been through this before, with First Book. At one point, pushing the idea out in front of me before I really believed in it -- the "fake it 'till you make it" school of writing -- actually helped me get the big idea that the book would eventually be based on. At other points, it ended up with literally months of research and writing being thrown in the trash.