Cracking knuckles and preparing to tackle.

I think I figured it out.

I’ve been dealing with making any sort of progress with my second draft; I’ve been dragging and kicking and just not getting anywhere. And I’m sitting here at midnight with a glass of red wine and my draft in front of me, and I realize something: with my first draft, I mowed through it. Don’t stop for anything, I told myself. It’s okay if your first draft is terrible. It should be terrible. It’s your first draft.

But I’m not on my first draft anymore.

And every time I’ve sat down to write, I feel this tightness in the dip of my throat, and type a few words before I end up online or watering my plants or talking to my dog. And just a few minutes ago I realized that my second draft isn’t my first draft (obviously), and there’s this sort of trepidation, this nervous tip-toeing I’m getting around it, because I told myself the first draft could be awful, and that I just had to keep going and not to stop for anything, but now here I am and…it’s the second draft. It feels a little more serious.

I’ve been overthinking everything, belaboring over small details; I’ve barely made a chip in the face of a granite cliff. I think I need to take on a bit more of my first draft mentality here: I have the rough bones to work with here, so now it’s just a matter of starting to put them all together and make them look a bit more spiffy.

So. Time to tackle this second draft with a bit more shoulder and force and less mousiness.

*cracking knuckles and getting into tough guy stance* Ya hear that, second draft? I’m coming for you.

50 pages is just an eensy dent.

So.

Lots has happened in the several days I’ve spent avoiding this blog.

First of all, I finally hit 50 pages. Fifty pages! Woo hoo! That is a huge milestone for me – it’s more than I’ve ever written ever before, and since I started this novel, I kept looking at the 50 page mark thinking, once I hit that, I’ve really accomplished something. And it does feel substantial. A meaty amount of words that it would take more than one bite to chew.

So, I hit fifty pages. And then it hit me: all my characters were the wrong age.

(writing this blog post out now, I begin to realize something: I hit fifty pages, one of my milestone goals, and directly after had this ‘realization’ that has frozen me. Is my subconscious at work here, my fears creeping in at a major milestone? Or maybe I’m just reading too much into it. Moving on.)

The age of my characters is something I’d been debating since page one. In fact, I’d written a couple posts here regarding my indecision. I’d decided to put my characters in their twenties, and my protagonist was experiencing a quarter-life crisis of sorts. But I just kept not feeling it.

And then, on Friday, I was thinking about who I’d want to read this book (not considering your audience before you start – rookie mistake, I know). And I realized something: if I continued writing my novel the way I was now, it wouldn’t interest teen readers. I wouldn’t want teens to be reading it. And I want to create something for that age range. YA did so much for me when I was younger. I want teens to be able to pick up my book and get into it, to be able to escape into it.

Crap.

And thus began the three days of major bummitude. Now that I’ve realized this, I need to tweak/revise what I’ve written so far or I’ll feel too scattered moving forward. So on Friday I said to myself, “I’m going to give myself a day off and start working on it tomorrow. I did hit fifty pages, I deserve a break.” And then on Saturday I said, “I am too tired and/or drunk to effectively begin reworking it today.” And then today I just sat on the couch, trying not to think about writing, and feeling generally discouraged.

And then tonight, while cleaning the kitchen on a distraction mission, I realized something: the longer I put off this revision, the bigger a deal it was starting to become. So I poured myself a glass of red wine, took a deep breath, and now I’m here, collecting all my thoughts before I dig into revising.

I have a small knot of anxiety in the pit of my stomach, knowing I’m diving into the first page now and starting to read some of what I’ve written. What if I get caught up in revision? What if it’s terrible and I lose hope?

But I’m going to drink some more red wine and stuff those worries down. Enough avoiding. The sooner I get this reworked, the sooner I can get my story moving again.

 

PS – honestly, I don’t know what I was thinking with the whole ‘twenties’ age range to begin with. 90% of what I read is Young Adult. It’s a genre I enjoy. I wouldn’t read a story about lost twenty-somethings because I would be judging it and eye-rolling the entire time. So what was I thinking? Blergh.

Terrible.

The first draft of anything is shit.

– Ernest Hemingway

Okay, so I need to stop writing late at night for right now. There’s too much room for melodrama. It just isn’t productive.

Also, I need to remind myself to just keep writing at this point, keep writing and leave a mess in my wake. The first draft can be horrible, it can make no sense, it can jump between characters and places and I can even change their ages halfway through if I need to. I mean, if even Hemingway is saying a first draft can be bad, then I need to get over myself and just keep writing.

It actually feels kind of liberating, thinking about that. This draft can be terrible! Who cares? I can let my characters say and do whatever they want.

Now I just need to keep trying to remember that. Diving back into the novel now while it’s still fresh in my head.

Something I realized while on the freeway today.

Blogger Katie May was kind enough to point out to me in my last post that I shouldn’t get down on myself for only writing 517 words in a day – that even if I just wrote 517 words in every day, it would still be 15,510 words in a month.

I was thinking about that today while on the road and suddenly it hit me: I quit my job back at the end of May, and have been floundering around since then, worrying about whether I made a mistake and whether or not I should be a writer.

If instead of worrying, I had simply sat down and wrote 500 words a day, even if they were terrible, even if it was the worst story ever – I would probably have somewhere around 42,000 words now (I’m terrible at math, so don’t quote me on that).

42,000 words.

So I need to stop hussing and fussing and just sit down and write. Yes, there is the possibility that it will end up being awful, but I won’t know until it’s done.