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.

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Received my first rejection today.

I mean, I’ve only sent out one query, and my manuscript isn’t even ready yet, so it’s okay. My query was a mess. And the agent was wonderful about it – very nice about the whole thing. I don’t think I could have picked a better agent to reach out to on my first try, she just seems very understanding and kind.

I’m not discouraged, but it was a bit of a wake-up call for me. A reminder that, hey, this is going to be harder than I thought – a lesson that’s hit me every step of the way so far.

It was a wake-up call, too, in that I really began to realize the amount of pressure I’ve put on myself. It’s been a year now. A year of me not working, not earning a paycheck. And every day I feel like things have to happen, that something HAS to happen, because I’ve put a year into this now.

I applied for a job at a dog kennel this morning, and have an interview with them this afternoon. It’s happening faster than I thought, but maybe working will help me gain momentum again. I’ve been dragging through this second draft, hardly making any progress, and I think part of it is because of the pressure I’ve been feeling. Every time I sit down at my laptop, I see where I’m at, and I know I have SO much work left to go. And it freezes me up a little. Maybe if I start working again, it will take some of the pressure off and allow me to feel more relaxed, more free, less restricted. And maybe some structure would help, too.

My biggest fear is that if I start working again, I’ll set my draft aside, and lose the past year.

But I need to do something, because lately I’ve started slipping. I haven’t put my all into it. I need to do something to get on track. I want to try my hardest, but for some reason I hold myself back.

Lots of things swimming half-formed in my head today, lots of things I’m quietly mulling over, not fully grasping yet, but that I know are there.

I just want to make progress. I just want to be able to feel proud of myself, to know I got it done. But how can I want it, and then not seem to be able to get it done? I don’t know. Brains are weird. I confuse myself when I start thinking about how I feel, sometimes.

But anyways, just wanted to check in with some of the things I’m thinking through today. Rejection isn’t bad – it’s a part of this writing process. And I had a wonderfully nice, supportive first rejection. But something is holding me back from continuing to make progress. Hoping a job could help, not hinder.

No really. How is it July?

It’s so easy to do anything other than writing. And it’s not because I don’t love to write. It’s just that there’s this big, tangled, messy ball-of-yarn cluster of thoughts and emotions and fears in my head, and there’s this coffee-and-wine-stained, scribbled-over, wrinkled first draft printed out and stacked next to my laptop, and a yawning, indeterminate stretch of work sprawled ahead of me that looms like a dark path going into the woods and it’s all dark and mysterious, and I freeze every time I attempt to stare down it down.

So. What have I been doing the past couple of weeks? Oh, you know. A little of this, a little of that. Made some DIY deodorant over the weekend. Currently have some homemade cayenne/onion/garlic bug spray straining through a paper towel on the counter. I keep Scrivener up on my laptop with my second draft open, and every once in a while I circle it, coming a little close and then backing away, because maybe it might bite. I type in a word or two. Maybe a sentence, if I’m feeling brave.

It’s been a slow couple weeks. Progress is being made, but glacially.

I’m thinking of getting back into a calendar system like I did with my daily word count during the first draft – writing in how many words I wrote each day so I could quickly see if I was staying on track or not. But since the second draft is more of a tweaking and typing and revising situation, I’ll probably need to go by hours put in instead. Hopefully it will help, because I’ve not been as productive as I could be.

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.

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.