So. Many. Words.

Only 26 letters in the alphabet, yet so many words to choose from as I write this book. I’m not talking “damp” vs “moist.” ** I’m talking about the pressure of potentially stringing together words that inadvertently take my novel in a whole new direction. Words wield so much power.

But words are also a writer’s playground, and it can be very cool to play with them. Sometimes, though, writing a first draft reminds me what it was like to get off one of these old merry-go-rounds.

I’d be disoriented and slightly fearful about what I was about to crash into. I’m having that same feeling today.

** (Sorry, moist-haters, couldn’t resist)

No blood on the tracks

Over the past two days, I’ve felt stalled and demoralized about the middle-grade novel I’m writing. When I woke this morning, I was determined to face the pages and write myself out of that morale-sucking place. No matter what it took.

Well, I’m pleased to say that (1) there was no bloodshed involved in the writing of those pages and that (2), I’ve officially regained my momentum and am back on track.

However, I can’t be complacent about my efforts. Tomorrow I must plant my butt in the chair and face the pages again. And so on, day after day, until this draft is finished.

Even if you’re on the right track,
you’ll get run over if you just sit there.
~ Will Rogers

Ginormous Whiteboard Envy

                                                                        

I’m at just over 200 pages of this first draft.
Wrote 1000 words every day for 71 days.
And am just now thinking I know the story.

Don’t laugh.

But as I wrote notes the last couple days
trying to find my way out of the wilderness
I kept thinking
"I wish I had a huge whiteboard"
one large enough to pace in front of
and step back to look at
in order to see the big picture.

Guess what?
All sorts of kind people have posted
DIY directions for making your own ginormous whiteboard.

I hope to be back soon with photos and helpful links!

                 

Down Off the Ledge

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.
It means so much to me (and my mental health)
having this writing community.

Yesterday I shared my panic and angst
and kind writer friends took time to talk me down from the ledge.
Sharing wise truths along the way.
Reminders that I wasn’t delusional.
That I could continue my project in good faith.

I want you to know I just finished my 1000 words for the day
and it was a great session.
I wasn’t nervous or angsty or anything like that.
I was calm.
Deliberate.
Confident that the initial story spark and its ensuing emotions
were still there for me to mine.

Thank you, friends.
Have a wonderful laughter-filled weekend!
                            

Name My Angst

I’m in a bit of a panic.

I’m 200 pages into the first draft of a YA that came to be because of a name.
A name that presented itself to me when I was playing around with this Band Name Generator.
I immediately loved the name.
The name offered so many possibilities for a main character.

Without going into details, the name includes a noun that stands for a specific kind of crime.
My entire storyline (and I use that word loosely since I’m firmly entrenched in blither-blather territory at this point in the draft) comes from that noun.

And now I’m wondering (mostly because of that blither-blather angst I’m currently experiencing) if I’m nuts to let a name
dictate a story.

Have any of you ever written a book based on a name?
Did it all work out in the end?

I cannot believe I have 200 pages written but am suddenly insecure about the whole project.

              

Awarding My Effort

As of today, I’m at 39,000 words on my WIP.
That’s Butt In Chair for 39 days straight.

Just sayin’.

(By the way, I discovered that an online search for "trophy" images results in
numerous penis drawings.  Hmmm.  Why do you suppose that is?)

              

The Personality of First Drafts

Writing is like driving at night in the fog.
You can only see as far as your headlights,
but you can make the whole trip that way.

 
                                                 – – – E. L. Doctorow

I’ve always loved this quote.
But I’m sure it’s anathema
to John Irving who believes
if you’re making it up as you go along
you’re not a writer, just a liar.

Each first draft is different for me.
Each process unique.
What I know ahead of time varies.

Yesterday I felt a combination of
fear and exhilaration as I wrote my 1000 words.
Squinting ahead into the fog.

I haven’t written yet today.
I’m worried the story might be headed for a cliff.
But if that’s the case,
I’ll just have to grab the wheel and make a sharp turn.

And hope I don’t run over any liars 
who might be staggering around in the fog.

           

Hard Work

On Saturday I reintroduced the 1000 Words/Day rule
which puts me at 3000 words on my WIP.
I’m also shooting for the 1 Chapter/Day rule on my revisions.
So far, so good.

We all know the writing life can be difficult.
At times we feel as if we’re banging our heads on walls.
Guess what?

This flicker literally bangs his head.  Everyday.  For hours and hours.

And because today is another WINDY day in Colorado, he’s banging his head
in HIGH winds (notice ruffled feathers on head and back)

Now that’s hard work.

         

New Project, New Notebook

Bad lighting and big shadows can’t obscure this recommendation.
THE POCKET MUSE: ideas & inspirations for writing By Monica Wood
is a fine little book.  Filled with black and white photos and quotes
and story starters and snippets of genius such as

There is a special throne in heaven
for poets, who labor in obscurity.
The rest of us harbor an unexpressed
hope for fame and glory.
You might be tempted to write
for a market.  You might be tempted
to ride the crest of a trend.
That kind of writing is about as stable
and fulfilling as day trading.
Write what moves you.  Write what
interests you.  Write what frightens
you.  Write what thrills you.  Take a
cue from the poets, bless their
underfunded little hearts.

Two days ago I happened upon a name that resonated with me.
I wasn’t sure what to do with that name.
I pulled out THE POCKET MUSE and started turning pages.
I found what I needed.
My new project has a new notebook.
I’m excited again.

         

Finding the Voice

Yesterday I posted an excerpt of a letter written to me by the narrator of my new project.  I figured my writer friends would appreciate it.  We like stuff like that.

Well, last night I made the mistake of letting Zippy read it.  Zippy is not a writer, he’s an engineer.  Zippy doesn’t read lots of fiction, much less ponder the fiction-writing process.

He turned from the computer screen and frowned.  Then he said something like "How old is this kid and was this letter written in the future, like when he’s in his twenties?"

I swear, I wanted to strangle him.  And I still wanted to choke him this morning.

But I didn’t.

Instead, I reminded myself Zippy only read a portion of the letter.  He had no way of knowing the letter ended up being less about finding the character’s voice than some strong advice from that character on how to go about writing the book.  Zippy didn’t know that although I was disappointed in not getting a "flash" of voice in that letter, I did map out my approach a bit more.  And because of that, I consider the letter a success. 

But Zippy’s reaction got me thinking.  For those of you who read the excerpt, were you wondering if the letter was written by my character in his future twenties?