What about second first drafts?

The first draft of anything is crap. These are words I say over and over. I tell them to myself, I tell them to people on NaNoLJers, and I’m writing them here now. The idea of the first draft, for me, is just to get it down. Get it out of my brain and onto paper. Once I’ve done that I can revise it and make it better, but the first copy doesn’t have to be good.

But what about the second first draft?

I’ve decided to re-write SHADOWS, but so far I haven’t actually started that because I’ve paralyzed myself by over-thinking it and having too high of expectations. I have been unable to make my brain accept that this is going to be a first draft…because it’s not…it’s a rewrite, but it’s the first draft because I’m starting over, or should I? What about the parts of SHADOWS I really like? Maybe I should just really seriously revise it and add some chapters to the middle to deal with a couple issues I had with it. But if I do that, won’t it be choppy and over-revised?


This is just a small sample of what my brain does to me.

I’m beginning to think that I should just walk away from SHADOWS for now and work on something else, at least until I can gain some perspective on it. Though, if I do that, won’t it just be there, in the corner of my mind, taunting me?

I think it might.

What do you do when it’s time for a big revision/rewirte? Start from scratch or save the bits of the original that you liked? Do you give yourself permission to write crap, or is it not -really- a first draft in your mind? Does your brain mess with you as much as mine does me? And what am I going to work on at my write-in tonight?

Maybe SEE THE SKY AGAIN. It’s the backstory for one of the characters in SHADOWS and one of my critique partners said, “NAME is one of my favorite characters from SHADOWS so I have high expectations for his backstory…” when this woman says she has high expectations she means it LOL And I don’t want to disappoint her or anyone, so I’m pseudo-paralyzed there too. I need to get over that one and just remember that the first draft of anything is crap.

The first draft of anything is crap. The first draft of anything is crap. I can do this! Hopefully if I chant this for the next couple hours it will re-penetrate my brain and I’ll be able to report back tonight that I’ve made some progress on SEE THE SKY AGAIN and I can focus on that while I figure out what to do with SHADOWS.

The first draft of anything is crap. The first draft…

Attention Span of a Gnat

I have been struggling lately. You may have noticed, it’s been a recurring theme for the past couple years and it just keeps getting worse. I have the attention span of a gnat nowadays. I look back at the things I used to accomplish in a day and that list has been getting smaller and smaller for the past 4 years or so. Unacceptable.

I have the attention span of a gnat.

This needs to change.

After a lot of consideration and discussions with friends who find themselves in similar positions as well as those who don’t, I have a theory. I think I have trained myself to be unfocused. This was obviously unintentional, but I think it’s what happened.

A few years ago when I was building websites and such for a living I had a livejournal and an ICQ account. I would check LJ once a day and keep ICQ up and running while I worked. That meant I could communicate with people if I needed or wanted to, but I wasn’t leaving the window or webpage I was on to do it. Fast forward to now and I have a LiveJournal, a Facebook account, a couple blogs and a twitter account. Discounting the blogs because they don’t fall into the same category — I have a lot more distractions. Firstly, Facebook and twitter update a lot more often than LJ. My twitter feed changes every couple minutes, that means I’m refreshing that page every couple minutes and in order to do that, I’m leaving the window I’m currently working in. Add to that the ability to get sidetracked following links or playing games on Facebook and really, it’s no wonder my brain is so fragmented and frazzled.

This hasn’t just affected my work, by the way. Look at my World of Warcraft account as another example. I play on two servers (one less than the other). On each of those servers I have 10 characters. 10. That’s the maximum. Why? Because I don’t seem to be able to focused on any one toon for very long.

The good news is I figure if I trained myself to be unfocused, unproductive and to have a short attention span, I can untrain myself too. (Is untrain a word?). Starting immediately during work hours I am only going to allow myself to check Facebook and Twitter once a day. That’s it. Just once. The same goes for Livejournal. During my off-hours I’ll ease up on myself a little bit. I will continue to check Twitter while I’m taking a long flight in WoW for example, but I need to force myself to focus when I should be working and maybe actually get something done now and then. The way things are right now is ridiculous.

Wish me luck, I might need it.

Newsletters and Irony

This morning I had the following conversation with Danica:

Me: What do you want to do this afternoon? I’d like to do something together because pretty soon you’re not going to want to hang out with me anymore.

Danica: Aw Mom, I will always love you.

Me: I know, but that doesn’t mean you’ll always want to hang out with me.

Danica: Of course I will, silly.

This afternoon I had this conversation with her:

Me: Danica, want to go out for lunch?

Danica: No thank you, I’m playing Warcraft with my new friends

Sometimes it sucks to be right :-p

In other news, I have a newsletter done and sent out. It spills the beans about two of my pseudo-secret projects. If you’re not subscribed you’ll have to wait until they become a bit more official to find out about them. If you want to subscribe so you don’t miss out next time, click here 🙂

Now I’m going to go wrestle Danica off the computer and make her come walk the dog with me. Sunlight and fresh air are good things.

Dwarf Stars Nominations

I -finally- sent in my nominations for the Dwarf Stars Award. Thank goodness they extended the deadline to August 31st or I’d have been pooched. The email reminding me to do it has been sitting in my inbox, marked red for important with a big star beside it for a couple weeks now. That is how badly I fail at email.

So, that’s done now which means the top of my to-do list for tomorrow is my newsletter. Yay! It will only be a couple days late LOL

The writing retreat went okay. I finished a final revision of THERE as well as “…Oh My!” and I submitted the latter to a publisher. Love how vague I am there? It’s that superstitious thing again. I don’t think, however, I was any more productive than I would have been if I’d stayed home…which kinda defeats the purpose of paying for a hotel room, meals out and the like. I’m not giving up on this retreat idea, but I think next time it needs more structure, and possibly more people. I’m going to give it some thought and see what I come up with…

Personal Vs. Professional

I fail at keeping my personal and professional lives separate. Some people can do it, and I envy them, I really do, but I haven’t the skill. Perhaps I’m an exhibitionist at heart (I don’t think so LOL but you never know). I think the two biggest issues are that the lines between personal and professional tend to get blurry…and I’m lazy.

Once upon a time this blog was meant to be my ‘professional’ blog. My ‘official’ website and presence on the web. For personal stuff and friends I had my Livejournal. That lasted for a little while, then I realised this blog was boring. Worse than boring it was just a listing of publication credits…so it was a strange sort of ego trip AND it was boring. Yikes. Not only that but people were coming from here and going to the live journal. Hmm…there wasn’t much separation there anymore LOL

My reaction was to privatize the old LJ entries, change the name of the journal to my real name and try to infuse some personality, some of who I am, into this blog. Well, it worked, but then I kept finding myself sitting in front of the computer trying to figure out on which blog to put any given entry. That didn’t work so well so now I cross-post. Everything that goes up on my blog goes on my LJ, so much for keeping personal and private separate.

That’s not too surprising, I suppose, because connections (for lack of a better word) also blur lines of professional and personal. As more and more work-related contacts become friends or at least friendly acquaintances it became impossible to keep work and ‘life’ separate.

I worry though, about the content on my blog, twitter or facebook. If it’s too diverse is it going to drive people away from reading my stuff? That would be counter productive…but um…focus? Not my strong suit. What do you think? Do you have trouble staying focused in your blog entries? How about keeping your professional and your non-professional lives separate?

Hell Tempted Me

My short story, Hell Tempted Me, is online now at Yellow Mama. This is an erotic piece and thus is not suitable for anyone under 18 or who isn’t into that sort of thing. I wrote it as an entry for a contest at FanStory a very long time ago (it didn’t win) and just recently found the right market for it.

I’m getting ready to go on my writing retreat today. I’ve finally figured out what I’m going to be working on there. First I need to do a final revision of THERE and then I’m going to start the rewrite of SHADOWS. I’m also hoping to fit some flash work in around the edges as part of one of my sekkrit projects. Wish me luck and productivity 🙂

Retreat Update

After posting my last blog entry I sent an email to Ms. Fisher to make sure she’d actually received my story to critique. She hadn’t. I swear there are gremlins living in my email server. Seriously. *sigh* Anyway, the good news is I’ve sent her the first 100 pages and she says she’ll have it critiqued in good time for me to do rewrite Shadows on my retreat. Yay! This makes me very happy because I’m anxious to get it rewritten and in reader’s hands.

In other good news, my ARC of Jim C. Hines’ book The Mermaid’s Madness arrived today. *squee* I can’t wait to read it.

The only bad news I have is that I will have to wait to start reading it…because I need to write something for my critique group to, well, critique, on Monday. I’m out of un-critiqued stuff…seriously. That like, never happens to me. I’m thinking about doing the first chapter of See The Sky Again and sending that…just as soon as I figure out if my love interest is a man or a woman. Hmm…

Writing Retreat

My critique group is holding our first (of many, we hope) writing retreat next weekend. I’m very excited about it, but I have a problem. I don’ t know what to write on it.

My first pick would be the re-write of Shadows, but I won a critique of the first 100 pages of Shadows by Deena Fisher from Drollerie Press and she hasn’t finished the critique yet. I don’t want to start the rewrite based on the critique of the first chaper I got from Jim C. Hines and then have to re-rewrite it once I get the one from Ms. Fisher. If that makes any sense. So Shadows is still on hold. *sigh*

There is a paranormal drama/mystery novel bouncing about in my head, but I’m going to be taking a novel writing course this fall (mostly to have deadlines. I NEED deadlines in order to have focus. More about this later) and I was going to use that plot as the novel I’d work on for the course. I got the impression the course was going to have a specific novel writing system it wanted to teach, so if I’m going to give it a fair try, starting the novel ahead of time seems like a bad idea.

The collaborative project I’m working on will take up some of my time on the retreat, but because of the nature of the project, it won’t fill the weekend. Not even close.

That leaves ‘See The Sky Again’ which is a fantasy novel set in Aphanasia that I am looking forward to writing. I was going to do it for my NaNo novel last year but decided against it because I hadn’t sorted out enough of the details yet. I think I know enough to write it now…my only hesitation is that I’ll be starting this novel on my retreat, then starting the other one for my course in October. Think I can get the first draft of See The Sky Again done before then?

I guess we’ll find out…

In other, picture-related news, I think I’m going to put the bulk of the rest of my vacation photos up on My Facebook Page rather than taking this blog over with them.

Except for this picture I took at Alcatraz that I love.

And maybe a few more inserted one at a time into blog posts.