Tick Tock

Oh hi, Wednesday! When did you get here? Can you come back later, please? I feel like time’s been moving too quickly lately, and somehow it’s already the end of April. So if Father Time could just stop breathing down my neck for a minute so I could work on my manuscript without worrying about how long it’s taking me, I would really appreciate it.

Hear that, Father Time?!

Yeah, I’m losing it.

Anyways, it’s been about a week since I posted last. I’m still reading through my first draft (crossing things out and making notes as I go along), but I’m almost done now. But when I finish reading it, that means I’ll have to start getting into the real nitty and gritty of revising it. Why does every step of the writing process freak me out? I think it’s because all of this really matters to me, and that’s…scary. I don’t even like talking about it. Half tempted to delete the past few sentences, in fact, because it’s scary to acknowledge the things that matter.

Well. Time to get back to reading the first draft. Hoping to finish it by today.

 

PS – it’s even worse than I imagined it would be. My first draft, I mean. I have a mountain of work ahead of me – lots of enormous changes and minor tweaks and major overhauls to be done.

Progress Update

So I’ve spent an embarrassing amount of hours this week at Panera, I’m about halfway through reading my first draft, and, you know, progress is being made.

Yay! Progress!

I’ve made an online writing buddy, and we’re both pretty much at the same stage with our writing, so we’ve been going back and forth talking about our manuscripts and our worries/troubles/etc.

And I’m working on trying to learn the whole social media thing, because I went to a literary agents panel at the Festival of Books and they said that if you can start building an audience, it looks good when you’re querying.

SO THANKS, GUYS. Because all like, ten of you who have subscribed to my blog? You’re helping me build an audience I could maybe put into a query letter to an agent saying, “Look, see? People read my stuff. I’m not invisible!” Not that I’m doing this blog for readers – I don’t want to fool myself into thinking what I have to say is interesting. I think what I’m trying to say is, thanks for the support you’ve shown me so far. I hope I can do the same for some of you, too.

Read the first page of my draft.

Stood up. Walked away from the desk.

Wandered back, stared at the manuscript from a distance.

Several days pass, somehow.

 

Okay, let’s try this again.

Here we go.

This is it, guys.

 

Do you see that stack of papers, seemingly innocuous, wrapped in a cord and sitting on my mess of a desk/dining room table?

That’s my first draft, and I’m untying the cord today and going to start reading. After a month of letting it sit, I’m diving in. And I am Freaking. Out.

My nerves are a trembling thing beneath my sternum, a tautly pulled thread just plucked and humming in the base of my throat. What if it’s awful, what if it makes no sense? What if it’s irreparable – or what if it is fixable, but it’s going to take months?

My draft stares back at me, waiting. You’re just a stack of papers, I won’t be scared of you.

Let’s get started.

Be open to the feedback you’ll get.

You’re going to get criticism. You’re going to be told to change things. Be able to process these sort of things productively. 

A common thread I’ve seen throughout my research about writing and publishing is that it’s often hard for writers to hear feedback and constructive criticism about their work.

I haven’t gotten to the stage yet where I’ve had anyone else read my manuscript – from what I’ve researched, you bring in readers after your second draft, and it makes sense, because my first draft is a tangled mess of sentences and structure and ideas.

I’m nervous to have people read it, because I know they’ll have feedback. I hope I can take it positively, and move into revising with gumption and not much dragging of my heels. I’m worried constructive criticism will discourage me, because it’s hard to imagine that I’m going to devote an unknown amount of time to creating the second draft, and that after that, my work still won’t be over.

I know it takes a long time, but I’m starting to feel impatient, and nervous, and edgy. It’s been a while since I’ve worked now, you know? It’s been a long time now that my husband has been waking up every day, sitting at a desk, putting in hours, making money for the both of us. Maybe I should get a part time job as I approach the second draft, but I’m afraid that I’ll derail myself if I do so. And after so many months of stressing and not working, should I risk derailing myself but easing some financial stresses, or push it for a couple more months?

How many more months? How much longer can I keep trying like this?

Okay. *deep breath* I’m digging worry-holes again and I’m going to roll my ankle in one of them if I don’t stop thinking now.

All I really came here to say is my lesson for the day: I want to try and be ready for constructive criticism when it comes, and be able to take it in with a positive attitude and an open mind.

Also, I just really want to be done, too. But I have to keep taking it bird by bird. Step by step. Word by word.

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.

How old?

I am still really, really divided over whether my characters should be teenaged (16-19) or young adults (20-30). I’m a little over 30 pages in, and still can’t decide.

There’s just so many different aspects you have to deal with with both sets of ages. If they’re teens, I have to grapple with parental/family relationships. If they’re in their twenties, I have to deal with jobs and rent. Sigh.

I’m probably just overthinking it. But I think I am going to print out what I have so far and tweak it so they’re teens and see how it feels to me. Maybe that will help me feel more confident one way or another. I just can’t get so caught up in the tweaking and the small stuff that I never finish. I’ll allow myself a little bit of time to dwell on it, but not a lot.