Wednesday, January 15, 2014

In which I keep getting stuck

I am working on a new story and ya'll, it is killing me.  

I've been reading a lot of author blogs in the past few months and have learned that most writers love either the drafting phase or the editing phase.  

And I think I am discovering that I love the editing phase.  I love taking a chunky first draft full of inconsistent scenes and poorly developed characters and confusing plot holes and put it together.  Add stuff.  Delete stuff.  Combine stuff.  I think editing is easier for me too because it usually isn't until I am 60-80% done with a story that I actually realize what it's about.  

How's that for crazy?  No linear thought here. I start, I write, I get to the end and suddenly realize "this is what this is about".  And then I have to go make the first 3/4 of the book match the last bit of it.  But I love it.  I like taking a skeleton and making it into a story.  

Drafting though.  Ah, that is an entirely different beast of a thing.  It sucks.

Because I have bits of characters and dialogue and things that happen but they don't make sense.  Inevitably, I end up having more questions raised with what I write than I answer.  Not good.

I really like this story I am currently working on, but I keep getting stuck.  And I have to force myself to just sit down, look at the screen, and write something.  Even if it's horrid.  Even if it's not what I want to happen.  Even if I don't know what I want to happen.  I simply must get something down on paper.  Because at least when all that bad "This isn't what I want!" writing becomes a *somewhat* complete draft, I will at least have something I can work with.  It's this "create something out of absolutely nothing" phase that throws me for a loop.  And it usually leaves me confused and stuck with facial expressions that look like these:

"What am I doing?  Why is there a cyborg in my historical fiction story?  Should I name the cyborg Clyde?"

"Words, words, write some words....what are some words I can write?  What should happen here?  Does x happen here or y?  Is there a z?  I don't know!"

"How the heck did I come up with this?"

Drafting to me  is enormous.  I think of it as Thanksgiving dinner.  Imagine someone shows up the day of Thanksgiving and says "make Thanksgiving dinner".  And you don't have A SINGLE THING in your pantry or fridge.  Not a stick of butter.  Not a can of beans or a pack of Ramen.  Nothing.  Nada.  This is drafting and outlining to me.  Starting from nothing and trying to make a feast.  Are you nuts?

Ah, but editing.  That is like someone coming to your house on Thanksgiving and saying "make Thanksgiving dinner" but they have already bought all the ingredients.  And even though you are still overwhelmed by all there is to do (because making a draft into a story is hard, hard, work and often overwhelming), at least the ingredients are there and you don't have to go to Kroger and throw elbows with all the people who have forgotten to buy cranberry sauce.  

Hard, but doable.  More doable at least for me.

I am about half way through or so this first draft *and "first draft" is such a misnomer.  The first draft of my first story was really about the 8th or so draft of that book.*  I am anxious to just have the darn thing written so that I can go through it and work with it.  Because, true to my evident pattern, I am just starting to know these characters I am writing about and know what I want the story to be about.  I just want words on paper for now so that I have something to work with.  

In the meantime, I need to just do the thing.  Write something.  Anything.  I have given myself a January 31st deadline to be done with the first of the first drafts.  Which is a little insane.  But let's see what I can do with it...

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