An Open Letter to My First Draft WIP

Dear WIP,

Why are you being so freaking disagreeable?

I know we haven’t known each other long, only about 40,000 words or so. And I know I haven’t spent as much time with you as you’d like, but I’ve made all the changes, deleted characters you didn’t care for, even changed ones I liked, but that you wanted to use otherwise. What more can I do?

Have I made some unforgivable mistake in these last few thousand words you can’t get past? Can’t we reconcile in the next act? Will we even survive long enough to make it to the revision process?

WIP, I am starting to wonder if I even loved you as much as I thought in the beginning, when you teased me with your sexy uniqueness and subtle overtones. While at first things were so easy between us, now we struggle to share the words we need to move forward. Truthfully, I’ve been avoiding you.

Look, I know we haven’t got everything figured out, and I know you never look as beautiful in the first draft stage. You know I never start to understand you until the second draft at least. While I don’t mean to sound catty, you know you’re not the only WIP out there for me, don’t you? Still, I think we have something worthwhile together. And I’ve focused everything on you right now because I believe you’re something truly special. You are, aren’t you? So can’t we work things out? Move past this mid-point slump and push for a climax?

Work with me, WIP. Please. Because we have a lot further to go.

Sincerely, Your Author

Behind and Lucky Seven

I’m late again posting this week. Inside my head, it’s like the constant refrain of “The Conference is coming! The Conference is coming!”

No, I’m not actually a white rabbit, late, late, for a very important date, though I might as well be this week.  You see, I’m quite excited about the RWA National Conference in San Antonio July 24-27. But, I’m also going mad trying to meet my own self-imposed deadline to finish my current manuscript by that point, so  I have two projects I can “pitch” to editors and agents.

And, since I’m behind on so many things, I figure I might as well catch up twice.  I was “tagged” in Lucky 7 – which means go to page 7 or 77 of the current WIP, and post the next 7 or so lines.

So, from “Safe Haven,” maybe “Sanctuary’s Salvation,” here’s from pg 7, line 7:

Her brain fumbled around some more, trying to make sense of the off-the-scale weirdness that had ensued since the minute this man walked into the room. Think later, talk now. Tucking a bit of hair behind her ear, Tess offered a shaky but professional smile.
“I’m Tess.”
“Jake,” he offered, and held out his hand.
She stared at it like it was a rabid shark. The moment stretched until he cleared his throat and tucked his hand back in a pocket.
Her face burned. “Sorry, I, uh, bad cold. Wouldn’t want to spread it.” She faked the most pathetic cough. Ever.

And I’m tagging no one – but what to share below anyway? Share around 7 lines from page 7 or 77 of your current work.

Next week, hopefully I’ll, I don’t know, invent new time, and have a longer post. Until then, I’m off to send the kidlet for nap (again!), and then get some writing done. Happy writing out there!

Stumped … or not?

Today is the first day this year that I’ve tried to work on my current WIP. It hasn’t gone well. I’m not sure if this is just me, or if it means its time to abandon the project. I’m feeling rather philosophical about the whole thing since, after all, that makes it so much easier to philosophize instead of just write.

I am considering new directions. I feel overwhelmed by too much information looking through various craft books, writing books, etc. Because of course, they are written for the general “writer,” whoever the heck that is. And they try in earnest to be helpful – and perhaps they would be were I in a different frame of mind – but of course, it’s useless to look for answers only I have.

The book feels stalled. Perhaps because I have taken such a long break from it, leaving my imagination / subconscious still off on holiday. Perhaps it is because I really don’t like zombies, so writing a book about them was a bit of a foolish notion. Perhaps it is fear.

No, I think instead it’s the crushing nature of expectation and ambition. See, I’m a worrier. And if I start thinking about all the things I “should” and “ought” to be doing instead of just getting over myself and writing, I can darn near suffocate myself with invisible foes. Worrying about if I’m writing what is “marketable” or “saleable” is, to some extent, a fool’s venture, especially so early in the first draft. I don’t even have a story at all – how on earth could it ever be marketable? It’s like expecting a baby to do my taxes.

So, I have a new plan. Perhaps I will try and play more. Instead of just doing writing exercises and creating reams of new worlds that I don’t especially feel like getting more than a 1000 words into, why not go diving into my own WIP? After all, if I’m looking at the potential of abandoning and tossing the whole thing anyway, where’s the harm? Best case scenario: I end up with something that can be salvaged in future drafts and the book is completed. Worst case scenario: instead of lots of pieces of flash fiction laying all over the place (and cluttering up my file directory since I can’t bear to delete them – it’s like killing puppies!), I instead have further messed up an already messed up story, and the whole thing may RIP.

Yes, this is completely against my usual method. But seeing as the usual isn’t working, guess it’s time to play. 😉 Wish me luck. I’m off to mess around.

Thanks for reading, and hope you’re having a fantastic week.

It’s All in the Perspective: Considering Your Personal POV and Journaling

I’ll start by saying that I’m not discussing matters of POV shift and usage IN your writing, but rather, the effect your personal POV has ON your writing. And a great way to monitor and track your own POV is through journal entries where you can view them with some objectivity and distance.

Yes, I suppose I’m still going on about the new year, but my own ambivalence led me to consider past journal entries, and what I found both amused and surprised me. Because I found I was experiencing the same things in my life, the same struggles, even though my life now is considerably different than in those previous years. What I think this tells me – and you – is that sometimes the most important perspective we have to beware of is our own, because it’s the same excuses, the same feelings of inadequacy, the same fears that can hold us back from creating the best things we can, from becoming the best people we can be.

I’ve been writing about resistance and how to overcome it, and I think a huge part of that always must come back to the idea that we create our own reality and our own experience of reality. Sometimes we get so caught up in the present (not such a bad thing), that it becomes difficult for us to get perspective and decide whether what we “know” is indeed fact, or perhaps a result of our own perspective.

Writing in a journal often happens when you’re swinging on either a high or a major low (at least for me, since I’ve never been able to keep up with daily journaling – if you are, power to you for it). Looking back on past entries, you’ll probably quickly start to see patterns if you can avoid getting sucked into the experience of that past day. For example, when I look back on past journal entries, it’s clear evidence that I’m falling into the same traps for writing bad habits and emotional swings. Are you doing the same thing?

Every year I seem frustrated by my lack of progress the previous year – I can never achieve enough to be satisfied, it would seem, so perhaps I’ve set impossible goals.  I continue to see time slipping away from me, and feel I’m living in some kind of limbo – but rather than waiting years more for what’s after that limbo, why not see that perhaps that IS my experience of life? Indeed, I may want more – and by all means, goal-setting, future-planning, these are all essential, but what about living in the present? What about experiencing and appreciating the life that IS?

Journal or diary entries are a great way to judge how you’re feeling at a particular time, and to also watch for habits and tendencies. How do you feel when you start the first draft of a WIP? How long before you start to droop, around what word count or number of days writing? At what point do you think the whole piece is crap and want to throw it all away? And finally (yes, I’m skipping a few steps), at what point do you come back to the beginning and think the WIP is worthwhile, and actually, it’s pretty good?

This can be extremely helpful when you’re in the low point of the emotional rollercoaster that often accompanies a WIP. If you know where you are (ie: a high point or a low) you can moderate your response and anticipate what will likely come next. Mostly, you can get over the over-emotional crap, and just get on with what’s important: the creation and your writing. Because after all, that’s what really matters, right?

And hey, if the retrospective doesn’t help your writing, at the very least you can look at a past rotten day and think at least you survived that and you’re not experiencing it today.

Thanks for reading, have a great week, and hoping today will earn a “wonderful day” journal entry. J