Monday, August 15, 2011

Second Draft - progress, or another false hope?

I had one of those funny little moments where, owing to the juxtaposition of two unrelated influences[1], I suddenly got a new handle on the fantasy novel I've been writing for... I dunno, way too long now. I say "writing," but actually I finished the first draft, and that's where I stalled. As a result, I have the first draft... and then I have about twelve versions of the second draft, ranging in length from three paragraphs to three chapters.

So suddenly having my head back in the right place to work on that project is kind of a big deal for me. Only...

That was two weeks ago. I now have three paragraphs and a section break. This is not what you might call steady progress. On the plus side, I've managed to keep the boys fed and bathed, the laundry bin is substantially less full than it has been, and the stove and countertop in the kitchen are no longer a potential biohazard. So it's not like I haven't been getting things done. It's just that, from a writing perspective, I've been getting all the wrong things done.

Strangely, I'm still enthused about coming at this project again. It's going to be tricky, because we're dealing with a mess of problems right now. They're First World problems, to be sure, but they're still extremely distracting. Parenting consumes a lot of time and energy all by itself, plus we're coming up on the beginning of school next week, plus I'm trying to cover for the Beautiful Wife, who appears to have pinched a nerve and really shouldn't be lifting anything with her right arm. There just isn't much room for writing time (or anything else) in my schedule.

I have hopes that things will shake out, though. Firstborn is going to sleep on his own again - albeit, admittedly, with much wailing and gnashing of teeth. Secondborn is feeling clingy and wants to be held, but I think that's partly because he just got another round of immunization shots, which left him feeling slightly ill.[2] And I have no idea what the beginning of Kindergarten will do to our routine, but if I can get Firstborn back in a regular bedtime routine which leaves me some time in the evening, there's a decent chance that I can actually squeeze some writing in there.

This is more or less how the writing process works for me: I get enthused, I start working on something, and then either real life interrupts or I get stuck for other reasons. But right now I'm on the cheerful side of the cycle, so I'm just going to go with it.

[1] Martha Wells' The Cloud Roads and an old SquareEnix video game called Drakengard. If you're not already acquainted with Martha Wells, and you enjoy reading well-written fantasy (or, for that matter, if you can even tolerate reading the occasional fantasy novel) go out and buy everything she's ever written. Do it now. You won't be disappointed.

[2] Note to any random passers-by who might feel tempted to comment on how Immunizations Are Evil: my mother had polio as a little girl. She has been unable to move her legs since she was about eight. Our kids are getting their immunizations. Do not try to argue the point with me - I will take it personally.


  1. At least I'm not the only one. I'm trying to do two short stories that will combine with two (musical) EPs to form one story. I'm done with one story and totally blocked on the other. In fact, I totally hate the other one. Despise it. So I've got five pages and some interesting formatting done and a cursor that just stares at me, blinking, blinking, blinking.

    Now I hate the cursor.

  2. Well, to be fair, it's not very nice of the cursor to taunt you like that.

    I used to have a sort of ritual that I went through to put myself in a writing mindset. Nowadays it's good odds that by the time I got halfway through the ritual I'd be out of writing time; I don't even try that anymore. But that's problematic, too; if I just sit down and try to force the words out, I won't do my best writing. Then I'm likely to get stuck or frustrated or both.

    So, yeah. It's a nice little Catch-22.

  3. Lately, when I actually want to write I have to swim or clean or… do pretty much anything but write. It's only when I get free time that squeezing out a hundred words becomes an exercise in frustration. I need to work on that, especially since I recently signed up for a story exchange…. Gah, plot, why are you so hard?

  4. Plot is my strong point. Dialogue is where I... well, frankly, I kind of suck. In person, too, which is probably connected.

    One of my favorite moments in the Blue Beetle comics was Jaime Reyes trying to talk like a superhero:
    Eclipso: You stink of science, not magic!
    Jaime Reyes: And you stink of . . . evil stink? Evilosity? Banter. Sucks. So much.

  5. I love dialogue. If I could, I'd just have everybody standing around and talking all the time. Even in scripts, though, you have to have some occasional action, so this probably isn't the most practical thing for a writer to do. It's something innate to watch myself for.


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