Things my inner anxiety cat says to me when I’m thinking about my draft

And the logical side of my brain’s responses. 

 

Anxiety Cat, batting at stringWhat if you never finish it?

Logical side of brain, staring at Anxiety Cat over the frame of their glasses: As long as I try, as long as I keep taking small steps every day, I’ll get there eventually. If I never finish it, then that means I quit.

 

Anxiety Cat, knocking a glass off the counter: What if it’s horrible?

Logic-Brain, grabbing the broom: That’s what revision is for.

 

Anxiety Cat, coughing up a hairball: What if nothing ever comes out of it, and you just wasted over a year on this project?

Logic-Brain, taking a sip of espressoI still learned a lot this past year, no matter what. I completed a novel, and that’s not nothing. It wasn’t a waste.

 

Anxiety Cat, dropping a dead mouse on the rug: Fine. This is for you.

Logic-Brain: Honestly, what is wrong with you?

And commence panic.

So at the end of May last year I told my job I wasn’t returning after summer.

That means it’s been a year. It’s officially been a year.

AND I’M ONLY ON THE SECOND DRAFT.

As May came to a close this past week, the tension started to rise until it reached a humming, frenzied buzz ringing through the core of me, vibrating through every limb and shooting through my fingertips; June 1st came and I was raw and electric, a mess of anxiety and self-loathing. Why did I quit my job? Why did I think I could do this? Did I honestly think I could accomplish much in a year? Did I have a plan at all?

The thoughts culminated and tumbled over, until they poured into other aspects of my life as well, my anxiety leaking into other areas of my daily life until I was snapping at my husband, sleeping in, hiding under the covers away from the world, away from my mess of a manuscript, not even close to being ready to send out to agents.

I didn’t go into this with a set deadline, wasn’t expecting to be done by such-and-such date. But officially hitting the one year mark made me realize that I had expected to be further along than this. And I think the reason why it’s affecting me so deeply is because I know I could have done better, I could be farther along. So many times now I’ve dilly-dallied. So much of my time has been wasted due to procrastination and a lack of self-discipline. Granted, I didn’t officially start writing until the end of August/early September, but still.

So here I am, a year along with a rough first draft and the beginnings of a second. I officially haven’t worked in a year, and I imagine people will look down on me for that, and I’m applying to jobs now, looking for ways to make money, and trying to stay on top of writing as well.

But I can’t beat myself up for where I’m at and what I haven’t accomplished, because that won’t help me make progress. I need to focus on now. I need to keep moving forward. So I’m going back to my draft, and I’m going to keep working. And keep working. And as long as I do that, I can keep moving forward, however slowly that takes.

Cue 80’s victory music.

I finished my first draft today.

Holy crap.

I did it, guys. I actually did it.

I mean, months later than I originally planned on, and the thing is an awful, disorganized, chaotic mess, but I did it.

I’m giving myself a day to breathe and fist pump the air, and then I’ll decide how to move forward. But for now?

Holy cow. First draft down!

Things I’ve learned from my current read.

I’m currently reading a recently published YA book that deals with a female protagonist who hunts the supernatural. The story is fun, but here’s some things I’ve learned from where it’s lacking:

– While the protagonist has her moments, her character overall feels a little weak. It’s told in first person (like most YA is today), and her voice just doesn’t stand out from other YA narrators. I begin to look back on all the first person YA I’ve read recently, and I realize most of their voices begin to meld into one sort of harmonic conglomerate: a sassy teen with a few witty one-liners, who has some angst but is growing and learning.

So, do I want to risk having my book in first person and having my protagonist’s voice melt in with so many others out there? Or do I gamble with third person, which is so rarely used in YA nowadays and may not appeal to YA readers?

OR, do I try to write in first person, but remember that my protagonist is not just a sassy, angsty teen? That there’s more to her than that? Maybe I could take what I’ve learned here and use it to help my protagonist gain a stronger voice, a stronger sense of self.

– Going back to what I’ve learned from the book I’m currently reading, I’m having trouble really falling into the setting and placing myself in the book’s world. The protagonist has been a paranormal hunter her entire life, and is now for the first time ever experiencing ‘normal’ teenage things like high school and making friends. It’s been interesting enough that I keep turning the pages, but not necessarily engaging.

While reading this morning, I suddenly realized that it’s partly because I can’t picture her environment in my head. She’s walking around with a couple other students, getting to know them, making friends with them; they’re going on adventures together, doing normal high school stuff like going to games; but I can’t really build a bigger picture in my head other than the three of them standing together. What’s the weather like beyond them? Is it fall? Is the air crisp, are the leaves changing? Is it the east coast, or the west coast? The three of them cluster together in my head, surrounded mostly by fog in my imagination, because the author hasn’t provided the brushstrokes I need to complete the painting.

So that’s good to keep in mind for my own story. I like knowing how things look, feel, smell, taste. I want to know if it’s a cold night, or if the sun is burning on her bare arms. Those little details help place me in a story.

You’ve probably never heard of it.

My impressive photography skills on full display. Wow! Such photo!

Have you heard of this little thing called NaNoWriMo? Nobody in the blogosphere ever talks about it, so I’d understand if you hadn’t. Anyways, several bloggers suggested I try it this year (special shout-out to KatieMay34 who helped push my stubborn butt over the edge and finally convinced me to sign up).

And it’s fun so far! Very eye-opening to put my daily word count into a little chart thing and see all these stats pull up. Super fun to have other people to talk to about writing. And I even went to a local NaNoWriMo kick-off party and met some fellow writers in person!

So, thank you to all who suggested NaNoWriMo to me. And if you’ve been thinking about signing up, just do it! It’s definitely not too late. I’m hoping this will help November be a more productive month for me than October turned out being.

Things I did tonight instead of writing:

Cleaned all my fountain pens

Drank wine

Tried out some new fountain ink

Tried to convince my dog to sleep in a cat bed

Lit some incense

Lit some candles

Stared at the candle flame for an undetermined amount of time

Attempted to have a conversation with the characters in my story

Went shopping, bought nail polish remover and more wine

Wrote about how I wasn’t writing

Finally gave up and started writing. And you know what? It was slow, and my writing is rough, but it was also kind of fun. My characters are still weak and undeveloped, but they’re getting to know themselves and each other, and there was some good dialogue going on. I think not writing is harder on me than when I finally sit down and write.

Word count for the day: 1,029