Hello writer-friends. It’s Tuesday, which means that it’s time to be accountable…which I wasn’t last Tuesday.
Quick reason for no posting last Tuesday: My grandmother died on March 31. It was rather an emotional week that manifested some strange things.
The first of which – Last Monday (the Monday after her death) I decided to go crazy and write a book in a day. For those of you who would wish to attempt this feat, here’s what you have to do in a nutshell: type 8 pages an hour for 24 hours.
I was unsuccessful.
But I think I’ve figured out the emotional component that made me want to attempt such a reaching kind of thing. It’s this: my grandmother never read anything I wrote. Because I’ve never really finished a draft that I was proud to show her, or the readers that surround me. I have the rough drafts and sketches and all that stuff we writers accumulate. I’ve shown these things to my fellow writers, but not to any readers.
Which, I’ve decided, is stupid.
What the hell am I doing this for if it isn’t for people to read the stories?
I’m over halfway there for my book-in-a-week. And I think it’s accomplished a multi-purpose emotional set of tasks:
1. I know that I can finish a rough draft relatively quickly – even quicker than a NaNo pace. So that has given me a sense of time…I have plenty of it to accomplish the telling of stories.
2. Writing is fun. Don’t focus on the publishing, people. If you’re focusing on the publishing and ‘business’ elements, you’re not writing anything anyone wants to read. I’m sorry, but that’s just the truth. If you just take the time to cut loose and enjoy yourself, you’ll accomplish a lot more and have more fun doing it.
3. Be willing to show the people you love what you’re up to. I’m sure a lot of you have read the Door Open/Door Closed section of Stephen King’s On Writing. He’s describing writing with the door closed and then, when the rough draft is finished there’s this offhand line: “it’s time to give up the goods.” I hadn’t thought much of that line – it seemed to me that he was saying “show it if you wanna show it.”
But what it really means is: Give up the goods.
(Profound, I know.)
Yes, there’s editing to do. Yes, you’re gonna change things. But the people that love you and surround you want to see some evidence of what you’ve been up to. Some of them actually want to read it and give you encouragement/advice/their opinion. Don’t spoil it for them.
***If they actually read it you also get the added bonus of having something to discuss with them – what they think, what they dislike, what they were impressed by, and what they wished they didn’t know about you.***
4. Palate cleanser. I needed a break from the two humungous projects I’ve been working on. (One in a first draft bang-it-out state of affairs, and the other in a rewrite phase.) I’ve realized that I have a ton and half interesting ideas and that it’s okay to splurge and refresh every now and then. I don’t think I could’ve emotionally dealt with the two in-progress projects last week – I’ve placed too much on them intellectually and emotionally. A fuck-it-whatever piece was just what I needed to recollect myself.
That’s what I’ve learned this past week-and-half-or-so. What’ve you guys been up to?
P.S. In case you’re wondering – the novel is a steampunk romance mystery with Jack the Ripper. I think it might make an interesting series…we’ll see!
Jenny writes dark fiction that her mother hates. Her stories and essays have appeared in Across the Margin, Pantheon, Shimmer, Black Denim Lit, Skive, and others. When she’s not writing her own stuff, she’s reading mysteries for Criminal Element. When she’s not writing fiction or reviews, she’s writing/directing/performing/designing plays at Springs Ensemble Theatre.