I don’t really want to go into the long version, not because it’s private or anything, but because, well, it’s long and requires the use of phrases I usually disdain. Phrases like ‘spiritual batteries’ and ‘technological burnout’.
The point is, I’m going offline for a while. My plan is to unplug for ten days starting on Tuesday. That means I won’t be checking or answering email (my own or Niteblade’s) or social networking sites. I won’t be playing World of Warcraft, or checking Niteblade submissions (though the slush readers may).
I’m going to unplug. Spend some time with my family. Visit a beach. Take some photographs. Maybe write, maybe not.
I’ll be back around the middle of August with new energy and a fresh outlook. I’ll be ready to roll up my sleeves for the Niteblade September issue as well as our upcoming special edition. To polish up my new sekkrit projekt, move forward on the story I’m writing with Danica and layout my zombie poetry collection. Maybe, maybe I’ll even be ready to start transcribing Shadows and doing it’s final revision before seeking representation for it. Maybe. But I’ve plenty of schoolwork to keep me busy if Shadows needs to mellow a bit longer 😉
Before I go I’m trying to get an empty inbox on at least one of my accounts — wish me luck. I really and truly need it.
I’m re-writing Shadows. Again. Not finishing the new fresh draft I started last spring, but starting all over again with a blank piece of paper. Again.
This will be at least the third fresh start on this novel and I’m not even going to think about how many revisions it’s gone through.
I’m taking a writing workshop and the feedback I received on the opening chapter was great — so great that I know this is the right thing to do. I know starting over will make this a better story and, perhaps more importantly, me a better writer, but it’s exactly the opposite of what I want to do. In fact, when I concluded yesterday that I was going to have to start all over part of me wanted to scream. Loudly.
That same part would like to stick Shadows in a drawer, leave it there and move on to a different story. I’ve learned a lot working on it (I should have, how many years has it been now?). That much is evident in the first draft I have of Twixt which is much stronger than the first draft of Shadows was. So even if I didn’t re-write Shadows the time spent on it would not have been wasted.
Sounds completely reasonable and logical, doesn’t it? Unfortunately for the part of me that wants to walk away from Shadows, the story won’t let me. I’ve tried. I’ve tried and tried and everytime I turn my back on it this story claws at my brain until I go back. I guess it’s a story I have to tell, and it’s one I won’t be satisfied with until it’s as good as I can make it. So here I am, starting all over. Again.
So, I just got back from a writing retreat at the Strawberry Creek Lodge. It was an interesting expirience, one I’m still processing. I’m not sure what the take home message is yet. I think it will either be ‘I need to ease up on myself a bit’ or else ‘I am not really a retreat person’. It might even be a combination of those two things.
This picture? I took it while I was there, as well as all the other pictures included in this post. The retreat was good for pictures, it was also good for birds. I love watching birds, listening to birds, photographing them, and I got to do all those things on the retreat as well. The pictures didn’t turn out so well for the most part, but like I told a friend what I expirience trumps what I capture on film. So yes, the birds were good.
The writing? Less good.
Well, perhaps that’s not fair. It wasn’t what I’d wanted though.
The retreat ran from Wednesday afternoon through to Sunday afternoon. That gave me three full days and two half days of writing. There is no television, no internet, no distractions. I thought this would be the perfect chance to pen the new first draft of SHADOWS. My plan was 5k words on the two half days and 10k words on each of the three full days. That’s a lot of writing but, I told myself, I know the story so it’s not like I will get blocked or anything. I’m mostly transcribing from my brain more than writing in any sort of creative way…
Um. Yeah. It’s funny the lies I can convince myself are true.
So I arrived at the cabin, all ready to go. Sure I was going to get the first 40,000 words on this draft done and then be able to finish writing the story in no time when I got home. I’m hoping for about 90,000 words on this draft, so in essence I was hoping to get half of it done while I was writing. Oh yes! A few days of intense writing and I’d be good to go!
The problems with this, as I’m sure you see even though I didn’t until I was right in the middle of everything, are many. One of the biggest ones I ran into right off the bat was that apparently some switch got flipped in my brain, and I suspect it came directly from the ‘I’m transcribing more than writing’ thought process. You see, pretty much everything I wrote while I was on retreat is remarkably dry and lacking any sort of personality or emotion. The current draft of Shadows (the one written pre-retreat) has loads and loads of personality, it needs to be re-drafted to fix plot problems and because if I just revised it to fix them I feel like the whole thing would begin to feel over-revised. Now, the draft I’m in the midst of has a stronger plot but lacks personality.
This is going to be a freaking nightmare to revise. I’m going to have to sort of try to merge the two drafts first and then revise. Wheee! Fun fun. In order to save my own sanity I am sorely tempted to start pulling descriptive passages from the pre-retreat draft and write them out in my new first draft. It will no longer be a ‘fresh’ draft if I do that, but it will have some flavor and since it seems that’s something I’ll end up doing in the first round of revision/merging, might be a timesaver. We’ll see, I guess.
Sadly, that problem wasn’t the biggest one I encountered on retreat. The biggest problem was my own brain.
As I write a novel I go through lots of stages, and I know I’m not alone. In fact, Jim Hines summed it up pretty much perfectly here. Usually while difficult it’s not impossible to work through those things, largely because they are spread out over time. However, I learned last weekend that if you compress the time you are taking to write the novel you also compress all the emotions that go with it. They don’t get weakened either, quite the contrary. By Friday night I was pretty sure I was wasting my time and money by going on retreat to write and by Saturday I was paralyzed. Certain I was a hack who didn’t have an original idea in her head and couldn’t write her way out of…well, take that cliche where ever you want. The point is, I was not writing. I was laying in my room staring at the ceiling, or calling home on the cell phone with the dying battery (no charger, whee!) just to hear Jo and Danica’s voice.
I relaxed my writing goals on Friday morning because I am writing this draft long hand and I didn’t want to cripple my hand. Plus, I was beginning to see the emotional price I was going to be paying for my ‘intensive writing’. Maybe I shouldn’t have, then I might have been able to push through the slump and start climbing back in love with the book, but maybe I also would have made myself feel even worse.
The end result is that I’m at about 20,000 words and I haven’t written a single word of fiction on that draft or anything else since I got home on Sunday. I’ve not even looked at it…though I have considered pros and cons of beginning the merge sooner rather than later. That has to count for something and I’ll take my victories where I can find them.
Despite how bad I made it sound, it wasn’t all bad, certainly. I met some new people, got some pretty nice photographs, ate a lot of fantastic food and had some wonderful non-writing expiriences. I listened to some great audio-stories (The Classic Tales Podcast) because though I made a point of not bringing any books with me in the midst of my writing paralysis I remembered I had some unlistened to ones on my ipod. I got 20,000 words done on my new first draft, and even if I think they are going to need a ridiculous amount of revision, those are 20,000 words I didn’t have before. So it wasn’t all bad and perhaps with this improved insight into myself future retreats would be better, but right now I’m left wondering if I’m really a retreat kind of person. I guess only time will tell…
First of all, I sold another zombie poem the other day. It will be on Everyday Weirdness June 3rd Yay!
If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook you likely know I’ve been going through a bit of Con withdrawal. It’s sad but true. I missed the last World Fantasy convention and also World Horror in Brighton (and Neil Freaking Gaiman! Gah!) to apply to attend Clarion West (they said no). There is something incredibily rejuvenating about writers conventions to me, it’s something in the air (and seeing my friends doesn’t hurt either). I’ve been looking for cons closer to home and thus less costly in order to get a ‘fix’ but so far I’ve found nada. So I turned my gaze back to World Fantasy in Columbus.
I want to go. I want to go SO bad. It’s a World Fantasy convention, that puts it very high on my ‘want’ list all by itself, but when you add in the fact it’s in Columbus where my friend Amber lives (who I’ve not met in three dimensions yet) I really, really wanted to go.
I won’t be though. *sigh*
It’s disappointing, but I think it’s also the grown-up decision.
You see, instead of going to World Fantasy I’ll be spending a fraction of that money and going to the Strawberry Creek Writers Retreat instead. While I’m there I will be re-writing a first draft of Shadows (you read that right). I could go to World Fantasy, but let’s face it, it would be more of a party weekend than a professional one. If I go to Strawberry Creek I will make good progress on a novel I really love and maybe, just maybe, give me something to sell (whether to agents, editors or readers) at a future World Fantasy.
It’s the right thing to do, but it’s still disappointing.
So, for the second year in a row I have stopped trying to write See the Sky Again as a NaNo novel. This time for different reasons.
Last year when I started writing See the Sky Again there were still a lot of blank spots in my mind. I knew the setting, one of the characters and the ending. That was pretty much it. When I stopped writing it as a NaNo novel it was because I thought I should fan away a bit more of the fog and solidify some plot points in my brain before I worked on the project in earnest. Then I got distracted with other projects and See the Sky Again got put on the back burner for a while.
Well, when I dusted it off to work on again I had a good idea of where it was going and how it was going to get there. Or, if not good, at least I had an idea, which was more than last year. Unfortunately, as I was writing on it for NaNo I just wasn’t feeling it. I love the story, and I’m excited to tell it, but I don’t think it’s destined to be written in this way. Which is too bad because I’d like to get the first draft done sometime soon LOL
However, like I said above, I’ve pushed it to the side again for a while (shorter term than last time I hope LOL). Now I’m working on the re-write of Shadows as my NaNoWriMo project.
I couldn’t help it. Shadows won’t leave me alone. It’s always on the edges of my brain, demanding my attention. After the critiques I got from Jim C. Hines and Deena Fisher I had some really great ideas on how to improve it – trying to make it wait its turn until after I got the first draft of See the Sky Again done was, apparently, a very bad idea. I couldn’t focus on StSA because I really wanted to be re-writing Shadows.
Now that’s what I’m working on for NaNo (Note to any rules lawyers out there: I know that’s technically against the rules and um…I don’t care) and it’s going well. I’m enthusiastic about writing again and I really feel like the story is being filled out more this time. (One of my goals was to add more description and fill out the middle which I felt was lacking.) Yay! I’m hoping to complete the ‘new first draft’ via NaNoWriMo and then, just to be novel, NOT workshop it to death.
My nano word count is 6,652 so far, and I haven’t written yet today. Soon, I hope.
I’m also still working on the Poem-A-Day challenge and still loving it. Wheee! I’ve got 4 zombie poems (that I Love) and 2 more mainstream ones. I haven’t even looked at today’s prompt yet, but I’m looking forward to it. I’ll be sure and share at least one of the zombie pieces in my newsletter this month.
So far, November is being good to me. I hope you can say the same thing 🙂
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…
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 🙂
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…
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.
Every year wasps come and build a nest by our front door and every year we knock it down. The nests are never in the same spot, but always in the same general area. They are persistent. If they would just build the nest somewhere out of the way we’d probably leave them alone but it’s a safety hazard to have a wasp nest right by your front door. Ya know, because people need to walk there. That means we don’t really have much choice but to destroy it.
I’m especially sympathetic to the wasps today, because I can relate to them. They keep buzzing around, building nests and having them knocked down and they are going to keep doing that until they find the perfect spot. One where we can leave them in peace and co-exist. I keep writing and revising SHADOWS trying to get it to that perfect spot. One where a reader will be hooked from the first paragraph, devour it in one sitting and ask for more.
I suspect both the wasps and I have a lot more work in our future.
I like SHADOWS’ current incarnation. I like it a lot but I think I’m going to rewrite it again. I received my critique of the first two chapters back from Jim C. Hines and it was fantastic. He showed me the parts that worked and what didn’t and gave me some suggestions for improvement. After thinking them over and really pondering the middle of the story, I think I can tell a better tale if I start from scratch.
I have a couple things to clear off my plate here first (a paper to write for school, a final exam on the 26th, that sort of thing) and then I’m going to start over. My plan is to really map out the plot, add a lot more detail to it and then start writing about July 13th. Why so long away, you ask? Well, I will be doing the outline thing and then I’ll be on vacation in San Francisco from July 5th to 12th. I think I’d be deceiving myself to think I’ll be doing any work there LoL
So yes, once the 13th comes I will be back to work on SHADOWS. Unfortunately for the wasps, they’ll be rebuilding a lot sooner than that.
*It’s probably not a good thing that it took me nine shots to get a picture of their nest that I liked, is it? LOL
S.G. Browne’s novel Breathers is about sentient zombies. Can you imagine being trapped in your body while it slowly rotted around you? That’s the reality for these creatures. It’s been described as a zom-rom-com (zombie romantic comedy) and is going to be made into a movie with Fox Searchlight. Pretty sweet. Intrigued? You can win an autographed copy just by leaving a comment on/in the Of Warmth, Of Dragons issue of Niteblade. Each comment will be considered an entry into the draw, and if you buy a .pdf copy that’s 5 entries. I’m making the draw on July 1st so you’ve plenty of time to wrack up (rack up?) some entries if you’re interested.
I’d also like to say a huge thank you to anyone who bought Sister Margaret through Fictionwise and rated it there. Sister Margaret is currently the highest rated title for my publisher at Fictionwise. That is very flattering and makes me incredibly happy. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Still working on the psuedo-secret project, though it’s reached the waiting stage. I’m hopeful there won’t be too much waiting involved, but I guess time will tell. The collaborative projects I’m working on are still a going concern – one more than the other. Soon I’ll be able to share a little bit about it, but not quite yet. Sorry LOL Also working on a fun horror short story that I think has a lot of potential…more about that when it’s done 🙂
In my non-writing life things are a bit crazy this week. It’s the last week of my daughter’s dance stuff leading up to her year-end recital. That combined with things like vet appointments (for the dog, not me :-p), hair appointments (grey roots just keep on coming back…) and an upcoming visit from my parents have been keeping me busy. Once this weekend is over though, so is dance for the year. That will be a huge relief and cause a large increase in writing time. Time I’ll have to use to finish up this Women in Literature course I’m struggling through for school. Whee!
I won an auction through Brenda Novak’s auction for diabetes reseach this year for a critique by Jim C. Hines. The critique is of one short story or the first chapter of a novel. I -adore- Jim’s work and think he’s just a pretty awesome guy all round so I’m really looking forward to this critique…the problem is, I can’t decide what to send him. His usual genre is fantasy so I could send him the first chapter of Shadows, which is about as polished as I can make it at this point. His feedback would possibly help me polish it further and hopefully help me place it with an agent, or I could send him the first draft of the aforementioned fun horror short story so his critique could help guide my revisions on it and help it get placed. But it’s horror, which isn’t his primary genre.