Remember that pirate story I posted the other day? I haven’t revisited it much since the original draft but I did talk to S about it the other day and get some valuable feedback. So valuable that one of my writing goals for this week is to write the second version. S liked it. This is a huge deal to me because I love the way she writes, admire her knowledge of discipline, and am so proud of her first version of her novel. It’s brilliant.
On Friday we got together for our weekly coffee date where we talk about writing, books, marriage, parenting and everything else and I asked her what she had thought. I knew her initial feeling was positive but I also knew that she would have insights it’s going to take me a while longer to develop (when it comes to my own writing – I can rip others’ stuff to shreds easily). Sure enough, she was spot on:
- The name, Heavy Peg, has got to go. And probably never should have been penned (have I no shame?!). I knew this all along too. But I have tihs ridiculous need to name characters. It actually stops me from writing. I have to name characters. Immediately. I cannot leave blanks. And I can never figure out what to name them.
- The ending, while good, isn’t as good as it would be if anyone else except for me got it. I don’t want to give it away, I want to try to capture it on the rewrite, but S didn’t get it and when I said it she was like, “What about doing this…” and I wanted to kiss her. Or kick myself for not seeing how simple it would have been to do that.
I feel like two things to achieve after a first draft is a pretty good sign that I hit the nail on the head. Nearly. I may have gotten a little of my thumb, too, but that’s okay because after having not written anything in a really long time, it wasn’t awful. But it wasn’t great. I can handle its place on the continuum and I’m excited to produce another version of it this week. I’ll post it later this week or next weekend.
What first drafts do you have hanging out there? What do you need to fix in draft two?
I’m writing. Daily. And I’m actually being productive about it. So productive that I’m allowing myself to do something today that I haven’t done since I’ve been trying to write more seriously: write a Yelp review. I love writing Yelp reviews. Especially ones like the one I wrote today which probably only makes sense to the people I was with when I was patronizing this particular business.
Setting up a little reward system works for me. Like this morning: I got up early and returned two truckfuls of bottles (you read that correctly. Two truckfuls. I filled my truck. Twice). This is something I’ve been dreading since realizing that someone had to do it at some point. But there’s a little project I want to start (writing related) and I need a few supplies for it. So I told myself that if I returned the bottles and cashed in the change jar I could then head to the shops later to pick up a few supplies and start said project. Because sometimes you need that extra push.
And it’s not that writing is a horrible task I dread (like returning bottles). But it’s nice to say, “Okay, write seriously, as much as you’re struggling, as much shit as you churn out, and then you can write one pointless Yelp review on Sunday,” Since I’ve been really focused on morning writing time (and actually writing… like the first chapter of my current novel project!) I haven’t done much pointless writing which is something I seem to do in order to avoid the risk of writing the books I want to write. I had a great conversation with S about this the other day – about how I get bogged down in tiny prompts or in editing the shit out of things that have nothing to do with anything so that I can write without pressure. And so by building in some time for that and knowing it was coming, I stayed focused.
So this week the plan is the same: morning writing time with two specific goals resulting in time for my new project and a Yelp review writing session on Sunday. My two writing goals are easy enough to accomplish although I can already see myself cringing at moving away from prompt-writing to focused writing. I need to rewrite the pirate story and then either rewrite chapter one of my sci-fi novel OR write chapter two. Both if I’m really productive.
Do you bargain with yourself to achieve writing goals?
I’ve started each day writing in Vs. as I said I would but it’s getting old. Quickly. The novelty of choice never really did it for me: I feel too confined and I don’t really know what to write about and while they state in the beginning to just use the space to make lists or whatever, my personality isn’t able to do that. It gives a choice and at the end it says what your choice means. In between those two things there’s space to write. My J screams, “read, choose, write, read!” And I do.
But the last few days it’s been wearing on me. I like writing prompts. And I like prompts that aren’t going to take hours. But I don’t know if I like this particular method of filling that need.
What books do you use for daily writing prompts to get your brain kicked into gear?
Being the typical writer, at least in my head, I find myself in a dilemma I like to tell myself all writers go through: multiple projects with nowhere to go on either.
Here’s my conflicting projects, neither of which I can seem to commit to:
Project A: is “the greatest novel ever” – a book I’ve been thinking about for well over a year since it popped into my head while half asleep watching a concert DVD while fighting the strong urge to drift off into a nap. It’s a fairly simple story of love and loss but also includes elements like an identity crisis (related to work vs. real life), a compelling set of characters and just enough plot twists to really keep it interesting. I have the entire thing mapped out on Corkulous and in my head and I’ve started thinking about scenes and how to frame things (there are additional story elements that are peppered throughout… Between chapters, etc…). But I cannot seem to put pencil to paper and just write a scene.
Project B: is a science fiction story that has been in my head for over twenty years. I had a nightmare and then realized it was a great bit of sci-fi. The problem? I don’t know how to write it. Because I don’t know anything about sci-fi. And because I have never written sci-fi. And because all these dystopian tales are getting so much attention that I feel like a hack (even if I have had mine in my head for so long).
Today I listened to a new podcast (I’ve decided to get into something at the beginning rather than play catch up later) and realized that the writing exercise given is exactly what I need to do with project A. Except that I requires taking something you’ve already written and working with that. Well, I haven’t written shit.
So I whipped out my trusty back-up copy of Book in a Month figuring I could spend a few hours planning and then move into writing this coming week.
But it turns out I started plotting the sci-fi epic in it. So I spent $6 to buy two used copies (unmarked pages) to have on hand and decided that I have to do something besides writing prompts, flash fiction a d avoiding bigger projects this week. So I am going to continue on the plotting of the sci-fi book until I either shit or get off the proverbial pot, and when I need a little break from it I will start plotting Project A. Maybe I need something fun and low pressure to take my mind off of things and get back in the habit of writing. But writing something consistently rather than just fucking around with a million tiny ideas.
What’s in your hopper? How many different ideas do you have rustling around in notebooks and on cocktail napkins? What’s your plan?
This morning I noticed that Yelp’s Review Of The Day (ROTD) is for the apartment building in Detroit where I spent my first 11 months in Michigan, Kales.
Upon first glance I was surprised (I’d never give it five stars) but excited to read it…
But then I saw the opening statement, “I wish I could afford to live here,”
Wait, you don’t live there? How can you review an apartment building you don’t live in? And how can that be the ROTD? Especially when Yelp’s guidelines are clear:
I don’t know why but this is really pissing me off this morning, but it is. Maybe because we also got an email this week that Yelp is cracking down on inactive elites. I put a great deal of effort into my Yelping. I post reviews, photos, tips, check ins; I go to events when I can; I try to contribute to the community by raving about awesome places and ranting about awful ones.
And then a non-resident posts a superfluous review of an apartment building that LOOKS good and it’s considered the best Yelp has to offer today.
This is nothing against the reviewer; just displeased with Yelp – serious credibility killer, kids.