My work in progress is never far from my mind, even on the days when I don’t get to sit down and officially put the words to paper. *like yesterday…grrrrrr* But I try not to get frustrated because just like Stephen King–I have my “boys in the basement”– hard at work when I’m doing other things. I love those “boys” because they’re always working, listening, dreaming, imagining, wondering, deciding, cutting, searching and discovering what’s inside of me–even when Im sleeping. There is a price to keep them happy–they’re hungry little guys–and must be fed a diet of creative and stimulating things–like music and dance. This was the very first song on THE OPPOSITE OF GRAVITY playlist and I can remember loving the fact that it showed up on the SYTYCD show. I was blown away by the performance–the movement–the expressions. The dance story isn’t a perfect match for the story in my head, but there’s something about the heart and soul of it that resonates with me and what I’m writing…
Plus…I’m really missing So You Think You Can Dance right now. *sighs and taps foot*
What about you? Anxiously awaiting SYTYCD? I have a ton of “favorite” performances from the show, but I’m curious to know which ones you love best. Come on…spill.
Now that I’ve hit the tipping point within my work in progress, THE OPPOSITE OF GRAVITY, I want to spend every spare minute of my writing time working on book two. Thought I’d share with you one of my favorite writing tools–SCRIVENER!!! My fellow Class of 2k12/Apocalypsies debut author Cory Jackson did a wonderful vlog about SCRIVENER for the YA Rebels, leaving me blissfully able to give you a ton of great information and get some writing done at the same time. :o)
If SCRIVENER looks like it would interest you, they have a free trial you can check it out. That’s how I got hooked! What’s your favorite way to get the writing done?
Grrr! I’m not as far along with my work in progress as I imagined I’d be. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m making good headway. I’m not stalled at all, but I always have a tendency to compare myself to others, often unfavorably. So, I try to balance that insecurity with self examination. What good things do I bring to the table when I’m being me? Why do I do it the way that I do? I know I can always do it better, but sometimes I need to stop and look at what’s good about my process–as aggravating as it may be.
It seems to me that when I’m writing, the beginning is the hardest part. I know a lot of people who get an idea and ride it like a rocket from beginning to end, but it doesn’t really work that way for me. I’m more like an oyster plagued with an annoying little grain of sand. In the beginning I have a niggle of a thought and it’s usually an idea that makes me uncomfortable. It’s something that’s hard for me to look at full on. (Yeah, self-examination is kinda painful.) So…I sort of have to sneak up on that thought–because if I face it directly–it hurts me. How do I do that? By using my imagination to soften the edges. Crafting a story allows me to coat my own issues like a pearl. It lets me take something coarse and painful and turn it into something layered and beautiful. I still get to grow, but in a gentler way.
So, as I was saying, the beginning takes time for me and it’s awkward. It’s like rolling a ball of yarn. At first the shape isn’t round at all. It’s clumpy and irregular. That’s what the start of a first draft looks like for me. But as I keep trying to wrap myself around that initial thought, things take shape. Then something happens–the story begins to move without so much prodding from me. The pearl gets just enough layers to be round and smooth. The yarn takes shape and becomes a ball that rolls.
Finally–I think I’ve made it to that sweet spot. *crosses fingers* I think I just might be in that space where the story is beginning to breath on it’s own. And I know this because I felt the magic happen for the very first time. I was riding in the car on the way to pick up my son last week. I had on my GRAVITY playlist and I was just letting my mind go where it wanted to. I allowed myself to wander around and take a peek inside all the little corners and crevices in my own head. And then I found something I needed… I pulled out a beautiful, sad, haunting, moving vision that was so powerful it made me cry. And I knew that it would be in my story and then it sparked another vision and then another. And the weird thing was, I kept picturing Dumbledore from Harry Potter, as he stood in front of a Pensieve, pulling silvered thoughts out of his head and placing them into a basin where they could be better examined.
Dumbledore: “I use the Pensieve. One simply siphons the excess thoughts from one’s mind, pours them into the basin, and examines them at one’s leisure. It becomes easier to spot patterns and links, you understand, when they are in this form.“
For me, a book is a basin for what I’m thinking. It’s the place where I isolate certain thoughts, look at them a new way and see the bigger picture. It’s the place where magic happens. I don’t know any other way to get the words out. And I’m not sure I can rush it, although, that won’t stop me from trying. Perhaps I am just destined to go from pensive to pensieve.
What’s hard to accept about your writing style? And don’t be too hard on yourself because it just might be a blessing instead of a curse.
Just a quick little post because I’m trying very hard to hit a daily word count…starting…yesterday! I knew that the summer was going to a tough one for trying to juggle everything I needed to do. I had three kids home and for the first time and an “official” job. I say official because three boys are a job and a half any way you slice it. But now, I have a writing career to nurture and an editor and an agent to hold me accountable for my actions or lack there of.
I’m not going to go so far as to say that a soggy, rain-filled August was a good thing. The swarm of mosquitoes outside my house and the flooding from Irene will tell a different story, but it did allow me to ease my conscious a little when I said…”How about you guys pick out a movie this afternoon while mommy does her edits.” Sunny days were harder. I was also able to manage the unpredictable writing schedule because there was a light–a bright and shining light at the end of my summer tunnel. All my kids are in school full-time for the first time in just over a DECADE! I knew that I would be able to write soon. So, I waited it out and here I am and I have more time to write than I ever have had in my life. Of course, I’ll add the caveat that I have more to do besides “writing” than I could ever imagine either. It’s astounding to realize how much more there is to the publication process than meets the eye. This should in no way be taken as a complaint, rather a simple statement of busy-as-a-bee happiness.
Now I’m here, standing in the light and I realize something unpredictable has happened. I’ve become afraid of my work in progress. *gasp* It has been marinating for a long time, I’d even gotten over four chapters written prior to this and they’re good chapters–cleaner, tighter, better by a mile than my last first draft because I have grown as a writer. But here’s the thing–I know that TOUCHING THE SURFACE is “good.” It has been critiqued by a lot of people, my agent loves it, and my editor bought it. *squee* Now, for the first time I am back to writing in the dark again. I’m moving forward, following the sound of my own heart and soul and hoping that THE OPPOSITE OF GRAVITY will grow to be something I love and that others connect with. The idea that I could fail is paralyzing.
But inertia will not write a book–a good book or a bad book. Besides, I wouldn’t be writing it if I didn’t think it was the right book and if it’s the “wrong” book, it’s still something that I will learn from on the way to writing the “right” book.
I don’t know about you, but I find it’s often the very first step that hampers my progress and once I take it I look back and think…”Why am I such a dork? I love this!” I’ve also learned that working with a support system and the threat of possible public humiliation does wonders for me. Who knew? That made this a perfect time to once again join Jo Knowles and her JoNoWriMo. Here is her description of the group…
“JoNoWriMo+1.5 is a COMMUNITY effort, and as such, being a member means checking in and providing helpful feedback and encouragement to others. You can do this buy posting something inspirational, commenting on other people’s posts, and showing up on check-in days to check in and cheer everyone on. What is JoNoWriMo+1.5? Inspired by NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), JoNoWriMo+1.5 is similar, but allows writers 2.5 months to complete a project(s) of their choice. On September 14, participants will state their goals, and then for the next 2.5 months we will work on those goals together. Our challenge ends on midnight, December 1.”
Exactly what I need. In fact, yesterday was day one and I wrote 1,000 words. Of course, I was so into it that I didn’t manage to write this blog post in a timely fashion, but I know you don’t mind. I’d write more, but I’ve got writing to do. If you need a little inspiration and the threat of public humiliation, come join us.
As you know, I turned in my first round of revisions on TOUCHING THE SURFACE and I’m not expecting to hear back from my made-of-awesome editor, Anica Rissi until mid-June. While I’ve been waiting biting my nails, I’ve done some yard work and laundry, caught up on some assignments for my debut authors groups and peered into the woods. Not the actual woods–the proverbial one. I’ve been peeking down the path of the unknown and dancing around my work in progress THE OPPOSITE OF GRAVITY.
Back in the good old days, before WICKED became my favorite Broadway play (rivaled by RENT, LE MIS, CHORUS LINE and MISS SAIGON) there was another favorite. You can ask my college roommate because she’s probably still sick of hearing the soundtrack. I was obsessed with INTO THE WOODS.
How are the two connected? The play is about a fairy tale, which is exactly what getting your first book published feels like. But it’s also about what happens after you get the fairy tail when you forget, in the glow of your debut novel, that you have to write a second book.
I’m just kidding, I love my second book. Even though I haven’t been “actively” working on it while I’ve been doing revisions, it’s ALWAYS in my thoughts. I do a lot of my early writing in my head–that’s my process. So, on Monday I transferred what I’ve written into Scrivener. Yesterday I read what had been in my “drawer” for so long. Then I started adding new material. Of course, I lost some time searching for the perfect song to drum into my head for this new chapter. Without a doubt I erased what I’d written a dozen times and in the end, I had a whopping 350 new words.
I know that my methods for drafting are way different from revision. I’m also aware that I love things about both of these phases of the process. I just need to remember to switch hats. At the end of the day what matters is that I feel very deeply about this story, the way I always have about SURFACE. This doesn’t stop me from wondering if it’s a piece of crap. Yeah, that’s what I think about, if I allow myself into the dark corners of my mind. But I also know, without a doubt, that it’s the right story for me to explore. I’ve simply forgotten how much raw me went into my first book. How scary it is to go to those unknown places. I’ve traveled so far with SURFACE that like giving birth to a real child, I’ve forgotten how hard the labor is. All I seem to remember is the pure, unadulterated joy of holding that baby.
But now it’s time to be brave again. Because if I could give you one tip, it would be to write your truth. To be afraid, but to do it anyway. I’m never going to stop being frightened of my potential to fail. NEVER. But I also know that I’m more afraid of having no potential. What’s the worst thing that can happen to me? I could be a hypocrite. SURFACE could hit the shelves and readers could take that journey with me–only to discover that I didn’t learn anything from my own writing. I don’t want that. Instead I’m packing up my heart and my cheese grater (so I have something to rub it against) and I’m heading off into the woods…
“Into the woods to find the thing that makes it worth the journeying…
…because children will look to you, for which way to turn–to learn what to be. Careful before you say listen to me. Children will listen…”