Friday, November 2, 2012

The Ups and Downs of Draft 1: October 2012

More than anything else, keep on truckin'. It's hard sometimes. Believe me, I know.

Novels don't get easier, but it's reassuring to know that it felt this impossible the last five times and I somehow managed anyway. -Alaya Dawn Johnson ‏@alayadj

Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through. —Ira Glass

Yep, it's the eighth, and I haven't written anything. It's going on two and a half weeks now. Between my EMT course (which is getting better) and SECRETNEWS (no, not pregnant) and OMGWORKWORKWORK (the busy-ness continues) I don't have any thinking brain left. All that's left is reading brain. And the fact that I am reading A Matter of Blood right now doesn't help either because it's just noir overload. And not just noir, but noir that's much better than mine. So it's difficult. But AMOB is really good, so I suggest you read it. Really interested to see where the rest of the trilogy goes. I also found out that I think soccer games are boring as all fuck, but tailgating beforehand by playing soccer with a beer in your hand is a lot of fun.

Ok, seriously, I loved this.
Write when you're tired.

Okay. I guess this is just going to be one of those months. Frankly, I've been super excited about SECRET THINGS and much of my brain has been devoted to that. Most of my brain. I'm not thinking about the "Nothing is final" aspect at all, because I would rather be crushed all at once at the end than prevent myself from being excited about it since I'll be just as crushed either way. Might as well be ignorant and happy in the meantime, yes? So then. EXCITED!!!!

I made a nifty spreadsheet that's all coded and pretty so when I insert my writing count for the day it's added to a graph and I can see where I should be with my goal trendline and all that fancy shit. I'll post it sometime if it works out. Or maybe even if it doesn't. Excel is my friend. I am aware that I am a nerd. Speaking of nerd, I went through the piles of junk/old calendars/old notebooks/scrap paper that lived on top of my bookshelf and under my bed, and I ended up with an ENTIRE BOX full of clean paper. I took apart the bindings of the notebooks with a few random things in them for scrap paper and kept the notebooks I used in college even though I don't see any reason to save them. Anyway. I have a lot of paper.

Been sick the past few days, with a wonderful October cold. (For the record, Afrin is amazing. Totally worth shoving a piece of plastic up your nose.) Wrote about 200 words a day for the past few. But as Phil said, that's 200 more than if I'd written nothing. =] Wrote about 500 at lunch today, but now I need to work because we are busy as balls and my head has been foggy for the past few days as it is. Blarg.

So here's the thing. Life, it is being upheaved. I moved out. Not on bad terms, not on the best of terms. But things will definitely be better from here on out. I have my fingers crossed that SECRETNEWS will work out and things will become more permanent. Everything I took with me fit in one bag, minus my nail polish collection (vital things!). As a matter of fact, my (albeit large) bag was half clothes and half books. In the meantime, my clothes are stacked in piles against the wall, but now I have a bed. This is a good thing, believe me. It will also give me a chance to go through everything in my room at a reasonable pace because no, I do not need to keep that fridge magnet from ninth grade marching band. I am also minus-2 minutes from Phil, which means I don't have to wait until the weekend to see him. But that's all I'm going to say about all that.

I haven't been following my writing schedule at all, and as a matter of fact I can't even remember if I wrote after writing that last time like I said I would. I definitely have some catching up to do. But I am going to do NaNoWriMo this year, I think. I'm not super concerned about making 50k, but there are so many write-ins happening near me I would be a fool to pass them up. Wednesdays 6-8 four blocks away from where I work. Plus the meet-ups I went to last year. I need to find myself some writing friends, because I honestly don't know if I have any others. I need someone to commiserate with, to keep my ass in gear, to keep me thinking. Plus at the very least it will guarantee that I get a few hours of writing in each week.

I am very ready to kill my story right now. Nothing disastrous happened, really, I'm just frustrated. I look at the draft and it just screams BAD because of course it's the first fucking draft and my characters are as nuanced as a fucking trash compactor. It doesn't help that I just started watching Doctor Who and it's amazing, so instead of sitting down in a room by myself to get some words out I am watching about three episodes a night. Relaxing is nice though, life has been stressful. Work is busy, and I'm tired, and complain, complain, complain. I was planning to go to a NaNo kick-off party tomorrow but I'm not sure if I feel like it anymore. I still want to do NaNo, but I'll wait for the write-ins. I don't particularly feel like talking about my flopping story to a bunch of strangers right now. Plus the Frankenstorm is going to muuuuuuuurrrrder! us, so I need to PREPARE. Ha. I'm excited, I absolutely love storms. I made a special trip home just to get my rain boots. I hate those fucking things, they are so ugly and heavy and make my feet sweat, but they get the job done. Although getting seven inches of rain a day until Tuesday, I'm pretty sure I'm going to be soaked as soon as I step outside no matter what rain-deflecting clothing I wear. Anyway. I have to fight the urge to just crawl in a hole and read a book and ignore the world. I keep thinking about how much I want to be writing, but then I sit down and stare at the page and I can't wait to do something else. Just wanting it isn't good enough.

Something I liked: Getting into your character's head. So no, it most definitely is NOT easy for the first draft. (Or the second. Or the third.)

It really makes me think about my own characters, and how I KNOW their voices are just all wrong. I want my main character to use humor as his defense, as his filter for all the dark shit he has to put up with in the world, but it is just coming out all wrong, if at all. I want the characters to be lighthearted even though the story is very dark. It's all about rescuing his daughter, and that's some scary shit for a father. I know this is something that can be fixed in a later draft, but what about in the meantime? Do I keep going if I know it isn't working. I still like the story. I still like the battle. But it just feels fundamentally wrong, mainly because it is a first draft, after all, but it makes it hard to hold the arc in my mind while I am trying to write a scene.

I've been spending the last week refining my characters and my plot for NaNoWriMo. And now we're off! Starting a fresh draft. Wish me luck! And good luck to everyone else participating!

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