Uncertainty has been my version of a tormented hell for the past sixteen months working on this book. Something clicked tonight and I think it is finally over.
I just spent almost two hours banging out a detailed outline for the alternate plot line for my novel. As it turns out, it is more or less a completely different novel. Many of the characters are the same or at least based on ones I wrote in the original version. But for the most part, it is quite different.
It is especially different in the fact that, from start to finish, the plot actually works. And it’s good. I genuinely believe this is a REALLY GOOD story. All of a sudden, I am feeling confident about what this book is going to be. That is a strange feeling to have. I like it.
I’m going to sleep well tonight. Even though I can’t wait to start writing and revising portions from the original version and I can’t wait to make this happen, I’m going to sleep well.
I brainstormed an alternate plot line for my novel that could make all the difference. Actually, brainstormed is too strong of a word. It was more like I stumbled upon a fleeting, tangential thought at an unexpected moment. It was entirely unintentional. I have no idea how and why it came to me when it did. But it did.
And it might be brilliant.
It also could be a total stink-bomb of an idea, but that’s beside the point. The point is…this randomly sparked light bulb shone for a moment long enough to inspire me re-write and finish the first book I wrote this past year. The one that has been on pause for months, floundering due to a story line that just wasn’t right.
Today, I may have uncovered the key to make it right.
There is much work to be done. Research. Outlining. Cutting and chopping. Re-writing. And always my favorite: storytelling.
Day three hundred thirty-six of my 365 Day Writing Project.
Some nights I barely have enough energy to brush my teeth after I count the minutes to a socially acceptable time to go to bed (not that anyone other than my husband and kids would ever know when I turn in). Other days I battle through a project – be it painting a room, writing a good story or working – until the wee hours of the morning, hardly aware of the hours passing by. This ability to hinge on opposite ends of the nighttime-energy-spectrum (NES) is what I call, “evenings in the 40’s.” If you’re in your 40’s, you can bet on your evening productivity like a box of chocolates: you never know what you’re going to get.
I take my writing moments as they come. If involving the NES, I wallow and soak up those moments whilst making the most of the creative energy that might evaporate in a second’s notice. When I have time to write during the day or in the morning: Whoa. Watch out.
I was able to write for an hour yesterday morning while in the waiting room at a doctor’s office. I not only didn’t have to worry about being plagued by fatigue, I was devoid of the distractions of home. I experienced a lovely combination of energetic creativity and uninterrupted focus. Where and when can you find that, especially during the NES? On a wing and a prayer, that’s when, and who has time to wait for that? Not this writer.
I take my moments as they come. Whenever they may be.
Day three hundred fifteen of my 365 Day Writing Project.
Keeping a steady pace while writing is an unrealistic goal. It is for me, anyway. I find that some days my mind goes faster than my fingers can keep up, while other days I trudge along word by word tapping keys on my keyboard with slow purpose. What I have noticed about my fluctuations in pace is that – fortunately – they are unrelated to my level of enjoyment. They are also unrelated to the quality of writing I produce.
I wouldn’t mind being more consistent, hitting my stride at a pace that produces both quantity and quality and maintaining it every time I sit down to write. Perhaps that stride is something the more seasoned writers achieve after many years. Perhaps it is never reached by anyone. In all honesty, I don’t think it matters. Fast or slow, I’m writing. And I’m loving it.
Day three hundred seven of my 365 Day Writing Project.
In the midst of writing my second book, I’m having a good time. The first draft of my first book is resting. I need more distance from it to be able to do a proper re-write. So it rests, and I write. As I fling myself into the throes of a second book, I have found a completely different voice. It has been fun to explore.
I decided it’s time to share a bit. I gave the first beta-read of this snippet to my seven year-old son. That may be the smartest thing I have done in a while. Well, you be the judge:
I was a young girl once. I remember it. Well, parts of it anyway. I remember the sky was a brighter blue than it ever looks to me now, even on its most beautiful days. I remember the grass smelled so sweet in the summer, my best friend Bea and I came up with the idea of the sweet grass lollipop. We loved that smell so much we just knew it would be the most delicious lollipop we’d ever have. Like too many childhood dreams, it never came to be. But it was sure fun to talk about. I remember climbing trees and skinning my jeans on the rough bark, making my mama so mad I thought she’d tan my hide to purple. She didn’t. She sewed patches on my jeans instead.
I remember playing ball with the boys and running just as fast as them, hitting the ball just as hard. My mama yelled from the front porch, “be careful!” and “don’t get so filthy!” None of the other moms ever yelled those things at the boys.
I remember being sprawled out on the front yard, looking up at the clouds, dreaming about all the things I could do someday. You know, someday when I was a grown-up. I could be an astronaut, or a chef, or own a candy store – the first ever to sell sweet grass lollipops, of course. My mama told me I could be a teacher or a nurse someday. My daddy agreed. “Those are fine choices,” he’d say. “Fine choices for girls.”
Day two hundred ninety-four of my 365 Day Writing Project.
I waited all day. I waited over fourteen hours, actually. For over fourteen hours, off and on, I thought about writing. Distracted, busy, obligated to fulfill a long list of responsibilities, I had to wait. I was eager to sit down and write today, which is pretty much the norm for me. But it was another Monday I had to go to work when all I wanted to do was stay home and write.
Hour after hour, I couldn’t take my mind away. When I could – when I wasn’t absorbed in one of my legal matters or taking care of my kids or doing yard work with my husband – or maybe even when I was doing those things, I was thinking about writing. Earlier today I described it on Twitter like this:
If I can’t be writing, at least I can allow my mind to tumble freely through the halls of the story. #amwriting#writerslife
And that is what it feels like. It’s like my mind is tumbling around ideas, words, story line and characters, with no particular sense factored in. That’s my imagination, like a load of dirty laundry in a front-loading machine; it’s a busy mess in there. So, then what? What does one do with all of those active thoughts about a story? One writes.
I wrote down some of my tumbling thoughts tonight before they vanished. Now, they reside in my outline. Boom.
Day two hundred eighty-seven of my 365 Day Writing Project.
I’m on the cusp of delving into the meat and potatoes of my new book. Writing it, that is. In light of this timing, I decided to outline the story from beginning to end so I can more readily proceed. When I wrote my last book (which is still in first draft form and hopefully will evolve more later), I prepared an outline very early on. It was a helpful tool throughout the writing process even though I deviated from it multiple times. It helped me stay on track and get my story down on paper. That’s half the battle, right?
Now I have about half of the outline finished, which means I have about half of the first draft done. Okay, not really. What I have is a lot of work ahead of me. With an outline prepared, the work will be easier and much more efficient. Ease and efficiency. I like the sound of that. A LOT.
Writers like to make writing sound easy. After doing a good deal of writing over the last 287 days, I know for certain that it isn’t. It’s hard. So here is a no-brainer for myself and any other writer out there looking to make their process better: Prepare an outline for your book. And eat chocolate. Don’t forget the chocolate.
Day two hundred eighty of my 365 Day Writing Project.
It has been too long since I last posted. As you might have surmised, I have not been writing every day. I have let myself get overrun by other time-suckers and responsibilities. Lately my life has been far more busy than it should be, mostly due to my day job. But that is no excuse. I let it take over. I let it cross boundaries I set two hundred and eighty days ago. I set those boundaries so I could find time to write every day and make it a daily routine. Like brushing my teeth.
I got brilliant at it, actually. It’s time to get that brilliance back. I know what I need to do, and I know how to do it: find time to write and write every day. I have fiddled with writing a little here and a little there over the last two weeks, so luckily, my writing mindset is still present. I just need to get back to setting those boundaries to make sure I have time to write every day. Like I did tonight and will do again tomorrow.
Day two hundred sixty-six of my 365 Day Writing Project.
So far, writing the new book has been a delicious experience. I can’t get enough. When that is the case, writing every day comes as naturally as brushing my teeth. But oh, so much better. I am letting my creativity flow without limitation, without hesitation. It’s so freeing and lovely, it makes me smile to think about it. I’m getting close to finishing the first chapter and I’m as happy as a bee in clover.
It’s a new adventure, for sure. And it is quite different from the other book about which I have blogged. This is a story of human experience. It isn’t a thriller and it isn’t related to the law. It is about the female. She. Her. Woman. Girl. And where she fits into the world. And what the world does to her. The biggest difference from a writer’s perspective is that I am writing this story in the first person. It’s more creatively and emotionally driven than I expected. I like it.
It is good to be in a more positive, creative mode again. I aim to keep it going as long as I can. I am a happier person when I can write freely. That is my sole purpose in writing this book. Nothing else; I just want to write it.
Day two hundred sixty of my 365 Day Writing Project.
A few days ago, I started writing a new book. For those of you jumping in now without knowing what I have been up to lately, let me bring you up to speed: I decided last week to set aside the first draft of my first book for a while. The revision stage wasn’t working well for me and finishing a second draft was becoming increasingly difficult. I think I’ll revisit the book some day, but I currently have no plans for it.
In the meantime, I am thrilled to be back to straight-shooting, unadulterated writing. I love the feel of extracting crazy and beautiful and awkward thoughts from my mind, one word at a time. Reality disappears except for the sensation of my fingers hitting the keys as the words flow out of me. I always feel that. The sound of each strike is comforting background noise. Tappity tap tap ta-tap. It speaks to remind me of why I am writing, sometimes with surprising enthusiasm. I always hear that. Creative process envelops me, like an old friend wondering where I have been but picking up where we left off. I always welcome that. Emotional upheaval ensues, commingling my hopes and fears between the storm and the calm, then sending them out into the Universe to be swept up by the wind and carried away. I always need that.