Decided to take two weeks off of writing. I’m one week in, and it’s only now that those writing muscles are starting to relax.
First few days I didn’t know what to do with myself. For five months now, all my free time has been given over to the novel. For the last two months, I’ve been spending half of each Saturday and Sunday on it as well.
So when I woke up on Saturday with nothing to do, I didn’t quite believe it. It’s like when you lost a tooth as a kid, and you kept sticking your tongue in the hole, even though the tooth’s gone and you know it’s gone. My mind kept wanting to remind me to get in there and write, but there was nothing to write, so it was just egging me on for nothing. Had to tell myself each time that I was done, that I’d finished the book, and I’d earned some time off.
Took me several days of repeating that to finally believe it. And only one day after that for my brain to start churning out ideas for the next book.
I’m not going to fight it, though. I’m going to gather the ideas as they come, jot them down, while taking at least one more week off. When my vacation’s over, I should have enough to start outlining the next book, and then we’ll start everything all over again.
I can’t wait.
No real blog post today as I focus on the novel.
Our intrepid protagonists are sharing a last meal together before they go to face the evil that’s been haunting Skallfast, and I can’t just leave them there 🙂
I need to see them, and this, through.
One of the characters surprised me again this week, committing an act I didn’t think they’d get to in this book, and triggering the start of the climax in the bargain.
For two full days (and 4,000 words) of writing after that point, it was smooth sailing. Words poured out of me, and I felt like I could do it, I could finish, I knew where things were going and every step of the way there.
That momentum slowed on Monday, died completely on Tuesday, and hasn’t come back yet. I continue to churn out words, and I still know exactly where things are going as it starts the final climb toward the climax, but I feel like I’m pushing the narrative uphill for each step of that climb, word by word.
I know that I’ll get there. It’s only a matter of time now, of sitting down and writing each days 1,000 words until I reach that point. That doesn’t make the work any easier, or give me any confidence that the final product will be worth reading.
But I am going to finish, dammit. If it turns out to be crap, well, that’s what the second draft is for, right?
The novel’s grown to 118,051 words.
Where last week felt like plummeting down the tracks in a mining cart, this week has felt like the slow climb upwards that follows. I keep thinking of new projects I could be working on instead of this one, shiny objects to distract me from finishing.
Just these past few days I’ve thought of two new novels to write and an iOS game to build. I’ve even caught myself starting to write dialogue in the voice of the narrator from a third novel (also as yet unwritten) while daydreaming.
I have to keep forcing my attention back to the novel I’ve got, the novel that every day gets longer and every day I feel like I have less grasp of.
Telling myself its okay for the first draft to suck is dangerous now, because my other projects come rushing in, tempting me with their promise of perfection. I know none of them will be perfect in the end, but I want it, I want to write something brilliant and moving that people will remember when I’m gone. I feel like I can see the flaws in my current work all too clearly, and I these distractions are my unconscious way of doubting that it’s worth finishing.
That’s how I feel, like I’ve turned a corner in one of those old mining carts and found the tracks plunge down into the darkness. At the bottom, the climax is there, waiting for me. I couldn’t stop it happening now even if I tried.
So I’m holding on as best I can, gripping the sides of the cart as we hurtle down together, my characters and I. I only hope I can type fast enough to capture everything before we hit the bottom, and it’s all over.
107,187 words in.
I’ve heard other writers talk about how issues they didn’t know they had can show up in their writing, unbidden, like notes from an intimate therapy session suddenly posted on a public bulletin board. But I didn’t think that was happening to me until this morning, when I realized that my treatment of two of the male characters in the novel I’m working on echoes a pattern of behavior from my youth, which itself stems from how my father treated me when I was little.
It shocked me, to think that something I wrote pointed so directly to emotions and expectations that I didn’t know I had. I felt — I feel — very vulnerable now, as if when I finish the novel and hand it over to its first readers, they’ll be able to decode everything about my personality, know all the parts of my self I try to keep hidden in everyday life.
I don’t think I can stop feeling vulnerable, but I tell myself that being vulnerable is part of the writing, that putting these parts of myself down on the page is what makes the characters come alive, that any book that didn’t have more of me in it than I’m comfortable with probably isn’t worth writing. I could be lying to myself, but I hope it’s true.
Novel broke 79,000 words this morning. That’s 5,000 more words than last week, putting me back on my desired schedule.
So waking up that half-hour earlier has been worth it. I’ve been getting in 250-400 words in that extra 30 minutes, making it a lot easier for me to hit 1,000 words by the end of the day.
Writing at lunch hasn’t worked out as well for me. I’ve often got errands to run and chores to do in that hour, and even if I try to carve out 30 min for writing, my mind’s so busy with other things that I end up just staring at the page.
Fortunately, I’ve done much better with writing at the end of the day, especially since I’ve got the morning kick-start to relieve some of the pressure.
So, I’ll keep up the new habit next week, and try to use the weekend to catch up from the week I lost to flu. My goal is still to finish by the end of this month, so I’ve got some cranking to do.
…is the novel I started for NaNoWriMo this year.
I say started because while I reached the 50,000-word goal for the month (despite illness, and traveling for two weeks), the novel isn’t done. It’s over 50,000 words long, the longest thing I’ve ever written in my life (my previous attempt at a novel was only 40K), and I’m only a third of the way through the story.
So, I’m going to keep working on it through December (and probably January). My goal is to get through 1,000 words a day, or 30K for each month. Hopefully by Feb 1st I’ll have the first draft of my second novel wrapped up and done.
Incidentally, this is why I didn’t post anything through November. Writing the novel soaked up all my free time, and then some (I was churning out 3,000 words a day toward the end to make up for the time I lost while traveling). Things should settle out now that I’m back to a more sustainable pace, and I’ll get back to the regular M-W-F posting schedule.
I’ve wanted to finish a second novel for a few years now, and never found the time to do it.
This year, I’m forcing myself to find the time by doing NaNoWriMo. I’m going to start something new, and push every day until I reach the 50K word mark (or beyond).
The novel itself is going to be my take on a sword-and-sorcery fantasy, with a working title of The Hungry Cold.
Here’s the synopsis:
When a sudden blizzard closes the mountain road out of Skallfast, Siobhan and Alastair settle in for days of boredom. But the storm brought something else with it: something that starts killing the townsfolk, one by one, leaving nothing but their bones behind. Can they discover what’s behind the killings, and how to stop it, before the hungry cold claims them as well?
Wish me luck!