Some writing days are excruciating. The worst are those when I don’t get any words down, and instead spend my time catastrophizing and twirling in my head. The next worse are those days that feel like a death march through neck-deep glue, in which every word has to be dragged kicking and screaming to the page.
Today was the latter. I achieved my word count, and now possess a messy mass of sentences which have the potential to be revised into something less vomitous.
Marcel on October 31, 2015
All in the spirit of feline solidarity. Cat lovers, unite!
If you happen upon this, writer-friend Linda Salzman, you might be happy to know that yesterday I finally, finally wrote the final scenes of the YA I’ve been wrestling with since the beginning of time. Are they perfectly written scenes? Hells no. Are they fleshed-out scenes? Absolutely not. Are they even close to being what they’d need to be in a final draft? HAHAHAHAHA.
In which Linda is the pug offering encouragement (“Do it!”) to the tortoise-slow Tracy.
The scenes I wrote yesterday are, at this point, a collection of placeholder words. A roadmap for the next draft (should I ever have the inclination to wade into the manuscript that right now feels like a horrible, torturous place to spend time). I learned about the value of using placeholder words from writer-friend Laurie Schneider, and I must say it’s one of the most liberating tools in my writing kit. The pressure is off when I’m creating placeholder words; all that’s required of me is to literally hold the place in the manuscript with clues for my authorial intent. The details come later.
So after writing those scenes, I printed out a hard copy and wrote out a few notes for myself before packing everything away in an accordion file. At the soonest, I’ll read that manuscript again in a month. But I have a feeling it’ll take longer than that for me to muster enthusiasm. After finishing, I’d gone back to read the opening chapter, thinking it would fire me up by reminding me the rest of the book is stronger than the ending. *insert hysterical laughter* Turns out, I’d arrived at the THIS BOOK SUCKS MORE THAN A HOOVER stage, and it’s gonna take some time for those feelings to fade.
The good news? I’m already reacquainting myself with another project. This one has huge potential and fills me with excitement. So take that, nasty voice! (Also, I was very grateful for the distraction of this “new” project when I woke up in the middle of the night thinking about Debbie Reynolds dying the day after losing her beloved daughter.)
There are sad and horrible things happening all over the planet, but I’m grateful for the fictional worlds I create in my mind. Sometimes the pretend is the only thing keeping me from being crushed by the real.
I’m ready to skip town.
Still not finished with this draft of the YA-from-hell.
Intended to finish by November 30 in my version of NaNo, but life intervened in a couple big ways and derailed those efforts.
This young hitchhiker could have walked out of the pages of my manuscript. (Photo by Atlas Green)
I have written several drafts of this book, but never the final scenes. While I’ve mapped out those scenes, they’ve never been fully realized. I’m starting to wonder if it’s a case of “talking myself out of a book;” in other words, precisely because I have visualized and plotted out those scenes, I’ve lost all interest in writing them. Maybe they already feel done? Maybe I’ve lost faith in my abilities and so want to give up? Maybe I feel my efforts would be better spent on a more high concept story?
I can’t help thinking that my uncharacteristic antipathy toward this project somehow holds the key to my stuckness. I also can’t help thinking that if I just wrote the effing scenes, I’d escape these circles of hell.
Yesterday I was tearing out my hair in frustration over my revisions. I struggled with a couple paragraphs for hours before finally calling it quits. I was in a pretty foul mood.
Today I returned to those paragraphs and am happy to report that the words cooperated. And I didn’t even have to bludgeon them into place.
Even better news is that I then spent the rest of the day going over the entire manuscript and am now ready to send it to a brand-new reader. Do you know what this means? This means I am five whole days ahead of schedule! FIVE WHOLE DAYS, people!
Bracelets made by Laura Hamor of Silver Freckles. Find her on Etsy.
What’s the key to my success?
As always, it comes down to two little words.
There’s a real feeling when you know you’re getting it right. It’s a physical feeling.
~ Robert Caro
Yeah, but what about when you’re not getting it right? Huh? What’s that physical feeling called, Mister I’ve-won-multiple-Pulitzer-Prizes-and-National-Book-Awards??
Around these parts it’s starting to feel an awful lot like baldness.
The bad news?
I’m suddenly feeling a bit rundown
and kinda puny
which is triggering pissed-off thoughts
ARE YOU FREAKIN’ KIDDING ME?
AUTUMN IS JUST BARELY, OFFICIALLY HERE
AND I’M ALREADY GETTING SICK?!
The good news?
I’ve hit my page goal every day this week, including today,
which means that despite
the fact that humanity is failing on a global level,
(a hugely depressing truth that’s undoubtedly contributing to my
all does not suck.
My plan of action?
Take it easy and repeat my new mantra:
ALL DOES NOT SUCK
ALL DOES NOT SUCK
ALL DOES NOT SUCK
I’ve been having a really hard time with my middle-grade this past week or so. I didn’t meet my revision goal for the week and was struggling with how to move forward. I was feeling burned out and not-so-enthusiastic about my writing endeavors. Any of them.
It was like an ongoing game of tug-of-war in my head. Back and forth swung my thoughts, emotions, and physical responses. Quit or not quit? Some or all? Finish this or start that? Fiction or nonficiton?
Image from Morguefile.
But as I did my cool-down walk this morning after a trail run, I realized that not making progress on the revision of my middle grade was part of why I feel burned out. It’s exhausting to be in forever-limbo with a project.
I wanted to quit because I felt shitty but I can’t quit because that will make me feel even shittier. In other words, writing can most certainly tire me out, BUT not writing may ultimately be even more draining.
Memo to self: sometimes I’m most tired when I don’t.
(Despite my wonderful little epihany, I am REALLY looking forward to finishing the damned book.)
I’m “supposed” to be working on my middle-grade revisions, but am having a hard time getting motivated. As in, I haven’t touched it at all today. Instead, I took some photos of visitors to the new feeder location and realized it’ll be a whole new learning experience due to the lighting differences. The feeder used to be sheltered by the branches and leaves of the maple tree. Now the feeder is exposed on a slope where the afternoon light hits it hard.
My feathered friends’ photos ended up washed out, and I just spent a while playing with contrast, white balance, etc. settings.
All that time playing with settings, you’d think I’d have something more impressive to show for it. Guess I need to get on those revisions so I actually accomplish something today.
I’m a perennial gardener which means that the flowers I’ve planted are supposed to come back every year. Some, like the coreopsis that once bloomed long and bright throughout my beds, suddenly stopped blooming. All of them, at the same time, disappeared from my garden. The same thing happened with the exuberant clumps of blanket flower that used to bloom next to my driveway and were the the envy of my neighborhood. Here today, gone tomorrow.
But those are exceptions. The vast majority of my flowers come back each year which is great because I’m lazy. And cheap. I don’t like having to plant year after year and I don’t want to pay a bunch of money for flowers that will only be around a few months.
For a number of years I did plant annuals in clay pots and place them around my patio and down the steps. It was a lot of work and cost a bunch of money, and I had to remember to water them all the time because it gets extremely hot out there in the late afternoon. So I just kinda allowed that aspect of my gardening to fade away and left the empty clay pots stacked in my basement.
However, one huge pot remains outside year-round.
This is a photo from yesterday and the petunias blooming there are the result of the last planting which was 2-3 years ago. Those petunias haven’t gotten the memo that they’re annuals. They keep coming back. They refuse to give up.
and I feel an undeniable kinship with them.