Tag Archives: first draft

I Can

I am a big believer in speaking words to power. I tell my students all the time “don’t release that negativity to the universe.” But sometimes I live in the do as I say not as I do universe.

For the last few weeks that’s where I’ve lived with my writing.

I read a book, love it, sigh and say, “Nope, can’t do it. I can’t compete with this.”

I stare at my computer screen and see the blinking cursor and it fills me with fear and dread and emptiness.

I’ve given myself permission to write crap, and when I look at my words, that’s what I see.

That negativity isn’t real. I know it’s not real, and still it shuts me down. SOME of the words are crap. Total crap. But at its base, the story I’m working on is good. I KNOW this and still I let my fear of inadequacy get in the way.

The last couple weeks I haven’t had words to share with Night Writers, the group I go to weekly at my local library. I help critique others, but that makes me feel like a fraud of a writer because I haven’t written anything other than a bajillion social media posts and a handful of blog entries.

Instead I’ve looked at my words, readied my writing space and after thirty minutes of thinking “I can’t!” I turn on a recorded Grey’s or This is Us or open my kindle app to read another Jill Shalvis or Kristen Ashley or Nora or SEP (…the list of authors I love is LONG!) book and wonder how can those writers be so good?!?!

Last night, though, after my writing group met, I opened my notebook and iPad, gathered my editor’s notes (Penni, you are a Godsend!) and told myself to get over it. The only way to get through the I CAN’T WRITE moments is to sit down and do the work.

I almost didn’t write this today because sometimes I write these “I can do this” posts, and my brain taunts me.

But you know what? My brain taunts me anyway, so here it is. I can do this. I want to do this. I LIKE the end product when it’s all said and done, but getting to a real The End is not easy. It takes real work. There’s no pretend. If I want to be successful as an author, I’ve got to write and tame that negativity beast. Tame her because she’s not going anywhere. She’s there in my brain ready to pounce when I least expect it. She’s part of the process.

I can do this. I can.

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Mid-book Freak Out #writerzen

Mid-book freak out time.

That moment I sit staring at the computer screen thinking any of the following in any order or maybe even all at once:

Sucks.

This is awful.

Sucks…sucks…sucks

What was I thinking when I sat down to write tonight?

Wait…what is this character’s name…oh dear GOD I’ve called her the wrong name the last twenty pages…

Conflict?! Who needs conflict.

blah-blah-blah-blah

Hey, this sentence starts with a capital and there’s a period at the end. That’s good for something, right?

Oh wait…nvr mind.

Dear God, is that even in English?!

ThisIsARomanceButThere’sNoRomance. How did I forget the romance?!?!?!?!?!?

Kill someone. That always makes things interesting.

You could just write down the Big Fat Man story. Everyone loves that. Drank a barrel of water, ate a barrel of mush, gobble, gobble, gobble…

Hmmmm. I have a new Karen Templeton to read. Maybe I should take a reading break and study the craft.

It’s Friday. I need a drink.

Or 10.

Sucks, sucks. sucks.

Coffee, coffee, coffee.

Genius.

Just joking.

I’m blogging first instead of writing first. That’s almost as bad as stopping to wash dishes but not as bad as stopping to sweep the floors.

Twitter. Twitter has the answers. Twitter is like writer zen. Writer zen…what is this I speak of? #twitterzen It could trend.

The end. I could just slap the end on it now and call it done.

Even though it’s not done.

But that’s the whole point of crappy first draft, right?

Sucks, sucks, sucks.

Not getting better if I don’t go write.

Ok.

The kill someone idea sounds good. Who cares that it’s not suspense…at all…not even a little.

Wait. The Stars are on. Their magic number is 2. What am I doing writing?

Choices. Decisions. So many directions to go.

Wah. Wah. Wah. All the way home.

See you on the flip side.

#writerzen Yeah, that’s awesome. And an oxymoron.

Dang it.

 

 

Love or Hate…Rock or Rockstar

Oh the agony…

Okay, not really.

I’m working on the beginning of the first draft of a book. It’s a love/hate relationship.

One day I love the words. They’re gold. They are rockstar. They sing to me while I breathe life into the story.

And the next they are struggling to be anything more than rock…not pretty rock, just that plain white gravel…that stuff that flies off of trucks on the highway and smacks my windshield and scares the crap out of me and makes me want to call the “How’s My Driving?” number on the bumper sticker and tell whomever answers exactly what I think about that…

Anyway, the beginning is always like this. Okay, again, not really.

ALL OF IT IS ALWAYS LIKE THIS. Even the muse inspired stuff.

So yeah, I’m working on the beginning, and I’m trying to find the voice of the story and the characters all while working through opening plot points that make sense to the characters that begin to take form as the opening morphs into something more than words on the page.

Once I get chapter one where I want it, I can go NANO-style, fastdraft on the first draft. Until then, it’s slow going. And I’m good with that, because this is fun.

 

That was surprising

I didn’t expect to get a lot of writing done tonight since we’re working on deadline and it was small group night. But I’m at that part of the story where everything starts to fall apart, and that tends to be pretty fast writing in the draft stage. I was hoping for 500. I got almost 2k. I’ll take it.

We talked about men we admire in small group tonight. It’s easy to think of that in superficial terms, which would be the complete opposite of what small group’s about. I said my dad. My dad can stay calm in chaos like no one else I know. He never freaks out. He doesn’t judge people. He prays. He goes through life these days with some pretty awful pain because of arthritis. If I had psoriatic arthritis, I feel quite confident the whole world would know about it. I definitely didn’t keep my frozen shoulder secret, and that was just for a few months. But Dad doesn’t whine. He just keeps on keeping on. I’m glad he’s my dad, and I’m glad he’s always been there to look up to.

If I keep going with this draft like I have, meeting the first draft done by spring break goal won’t be a problem.

Bonnie, if you’re reading this THANK YOU for kicking my butt back into gear nicely….

The words today included QUITE the shock!

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Oh insomnia…

I think insomnia goes hand in hand with writing for me. Turning characters off so I can sleep isn’t always easy. That could be a good thing if I didn’t report to work at 7:25 Monday-Friday. Nah. It would still be a bad thing. Because I might be able to create for hours, but sleep is essential. At least it is for me.

The 5k day yesterday hurt my arm all day today. It was either that or the cold front moving in. UGH! Not sure which. I am sure I wrote again tonight, but I stopped early because I’m not up to hurting again tomorrow.

It’s fun to watch the word count meter crawl closer to the end. One day at a time. That’s the key to finishing this book. I hope I’ll have a draft done by Spring Break. Fingers crossed it happens. Today’s writing ended with one of those “didn’t see that one coming” moments that make the first draft so much fun. My poor heroine. She’s going through hell in this novel. SOOOOOO much fun to write.

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Done

I’ve completed my first big book. It’s so long! I still can’t believe I finished. I rewrite the end a few times and I’m still going to re-work some scenes in the last 70 pages, make sure they stretch the tension, but the story is done and I love it. Hopefully it’s lucky number 13. 🙂 With this book, I’ve completed 13. I have two partials for Intrigue, but I’m not moving forward with those until I have requests. I felt that since this was a whole new ball game, I needed to finish it. And I’m glad I did. I learned a lot about me, but I also learned a lot about writing and characterization and the flow of a book. With my series stuff, the novel focuses on the hero and heroine and the romance. With this, there were so many other threads that had to be completed. It was challenging and fun and exhausting but definitely worth it.

Where’s the magic?

Sometimes I sit at the computer and it’s almost magical. The words flow, the story unwinds, the people feel absolutely real. It’s the most amazing feeling int he world.
And then there’s nights like tonight. Where did those people go? What happened to my incredible plot and my sizzling tension? And hel-lo why can’t I seem to use the English language in all its greatness. Why did an Internet search of a dead person take on the feel of a call to grandma to see how cookie making’s coming along. UGH!
Usually a great episode of Alias inspires me beyond belief. Maybe if I would’ve started writing then instead of watching L&O. (It was so NOT good, I can’t even go into how bad it was!)
Oh well. I finally admitted defeat, webbed some ideas for how to get where I’m going and made a few notes about stuff I know I want to add. Maybe it’s that I was writing to the first major turning point and I got in too much of a hurry. I don’t know.
I think I will go back and really punch up this first part of my new book. Make it shine, check my clues, add some characterization. I write in thirds, so this is Act 1. I’ll have to look at this revision as a fun puzzle to solve. Maybe then I can be as excited about it as I am about writing new words when the magic’s there.
I guess we’ll see. Tomorrow. Tonight I’m going to sleep. And I’m NOT watching any more TV!

The REAL beginning…OR and so it goes

Or…I’m not even sure.
I guess I’m going to do this steam of conscious thing. No real headings or chapters or breaks. Just write whatever. No rules. That’ll be a nice change. 🙂
I decided a long time ago I wanted to be a writer. Or maybe writing claimed me. I’m not sure. Even though I was a late reader, I wanted to write. I made up stories like no other. Just ask my mom! 🙂
I decided a couple years ago that writers don’t really have a choice in the matter. Sure, we don’t have to write the stories down, but they’re going to come anyway. They’re a part of ancient tradition. In the olden days people sat around fires and listened to the story tellers. My ancestors from Norway, Finland and Sweden definitely had a story-teller or two in the bunch. Today, it’s the paperback writer that keeps the tradition alive. Not that I’m dissing literary fiction. My MA’s in English. I love literature. But the stories that live on are the ones about people, heroes and villains so wonderful or evil they transcend time. Some of those stories exist in “literati”, but most exist elsewhere.
My goal when I sit down to write a story isn’t so grand as that of my ancestor story-teller. I don’t want my story to grow over time until it’s known by one word, one name. I simply want to create real people. Heroes we can love. Heroines we can all wish to be.
That’s it.
Nothing more.

I’m going to forget all the “rules” and just write.

That’s how I started eight years ago. Then I started “learning” and guess what? My level of success is still exactly the same. I get requests. I get requests for revisions. I get rejections. The rules haven’t changed that. So I’m going back to writing my stories my way. We’ll see what happens.