Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Break Out the Bean Dip and Jello Shots...

...because I finished the Scene of Doom!

I am so massively relieved. I have been working on this motherfucking thing for basically the entire month of March. Empires have fallen in less time than this.

"But Lianna," I hear you say. "How can it have possibly taken a month to write a mere three and a half pages?"

You are right to wonder, dear reader.

First, I had to write crappy version #1. Then I had to get disgusted with what I'd written, and try to rewrite it, resulting in the even bigger rambling mess of crappy version #2. Then came the frustration ("I've been working on this forever and it still sucks!"), the self-pity ("Why does it have to be so hard?"), and finally the Dark Moment: the loss of faith ("What if the whole book is as badly written and ill-conceived as this scene?").

Then, being the tenacious workaholic I am, I said "fuck it" and spent the next ten days reading novels, eating candy, and doing no writing whatsoever.

Then I felt guilty about being such a slacker, and figured if I couldn't actually write the scene, at least I could blog about not being able to write it. I got a few lovely comments (shout-out to LibraryHungry and Joely!) that gave me the courage to just open the damn file, delete crappy version #2, and start over. I was so loathe to work on it, I set myself tiny goals: work on the scene for 15 minutes, then you can go back to outlining Bresher's scenes. Slowly, I made an outline. I realized I was trying to cram too much information into a small space, and that the scene was in danger of becoming an infodump. I figured out what really belonged in the scene, and what lines from crappy versions #1 and 2 could be salvaged.

And then I wrote a fairly decent scene.

Please tell me that all novelists have Scenes of Doom that just about break them. And please tell me I'm not due for another for at least 25,000 words.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Slow But Painful, Redux

Man, I am throwing a party when this scene is done.

I'm almost there.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Rung By Rung

I'm climbing out of the hole, folks. I worked for a half hour today-- not touching The Scene of Doom with a ten-foot pole, mind you. Instead, I started outlining Bresher's yet-to-be-written scenes. But I am feeling buoyed by the encouraging comments on yesterday's post, and I think tomorrow I'll put those outlining skills to work figuring out exactly what the hell I want from The Scene. I'm getting an inkling that part of the problem may be my own inflated expectations; there's been so much lead-up to these two finally meeting when they are both adults and finally having more than a few hours to spend together, that I feel like every line of it has to be earth-movingly profound. But at the same time, they both have plenty of WTF? questions for each other. "Why have you forgotten how to speak my language since the last time I saw you?" "Why did you have my hand tattooed and make me sleep in a shed?" That sort of thing.

Christ on a stick. Are all novels this complicated? More and more, I'm wandering the fiction aisles of bookstores in a state of almost religious awe. All these people went through this??

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Pathetically Modest Goal Surpassed!

I worked for 25 minutes instead of 15. I'm calling that a triumph.

My goal for tomorrow is 30 minutes.


It should come as no surprise, given my lack of recent blog posts, that the writing is not going well.

Actually, it's beyond "not going well". The writing's not going, period.

Sure, there are some real-world factors at play. Work's picked up, and I now have a tutoring gig #3. This is a good thing, since we could certainly use the money. But I'm not getting those two-hour stretches of uninterrupted time anymore. After several weeks of insomnia, my body rebelled and I slept every moment I could for a week. And the world has provided plenty of bad news to distract me.

But really, the problem is that I'm stuck. It's not that I don't know what comes next; it's more like I feel like I can't write what comes next. I've lost faith in the story. I don't even want to think about it, because when I do, all I feel is a rising panic that I've wasted years of my life toiling over a novel that is irredeemably bad.

Ugh. I hate this. I've been here many times before. But this time, I don't want to let this dark period cost me more months or years of progress. I've had a few weeks of a break from the book. I'm reading a lot, which is the best thing for me-- it fills the well and gets me excited about fiction in general. The next step is to sloooowly start working on EN again, in as low-pressure a way as possible.

So here I state my pathetically modest goal: today I will open the EN file, and work for 15 minutes on some aspect of it. If I can't face going back to the scene where I floundered, that's fine; I can work from my list of little changes. But I need to touch the book every day, to keep reminding myself of what the book is and what I want it to be, so that when I find my way out of this creative desert to the green lands beyond, I can just plunge right back in and start moving forward again.

Monday, March 7, 2011

50 Word Story

Check it out! I wrote a microfiction piece for the 50-Word Story website, and it's been published there today!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

EdMo Day 5

 6.25/50 hours for March.

Today was a challenge. I'd planned to log 45 minutes during The Son's gymnastics class, but then a friend of mine turned up at the gym with all three of her kids and no husband (he was sick), and asked me if I'd keep an eye on her 4-month-old while she did the "shadow" class with her 2-year-old (her 4-year-old is in The Son's class). The idea was that the baby would sleep while I worked, but it didn't work out that way. But that's okay-- I got some baby snuggles, and some killer baby smiles, and even changed a diaper! (I know I'm a weirdo but I kind of miss changing a tiny baby's diaper. It's sort of nice that their needs are so simple.) We spent the rest of the day visiting friends. Finally sat down to work in the evening, but The Son was doggedly determined not to sleep tonight, and came out of his room multiple times, breaking my concentration. I did manage to log a total of an hour, but it was like fighting a tiny war.

I've reached the part of the novel where the romance heats up, and I've been feeling like I'm floundering a bit. After realizing that the scene I've been writing, in which Somi and Bresher attempt to re-establish a rapport after a long separation, lacks a certain... ugh, it's just dull, okay?  So I devoted most of my writing time today to reviewing goal, motivation, and conflict for those two, and now I understand what the big conflict is for the scene. I'm still not sure how to write it, but at least now I have an idea of what it should be.  I also wound up making some valuable notes about ways to ramp up the conflict in earlier scenes.

Tomorrow I'm taking two solitary, consecutive hours to write. If The Husband isn't up to taking The Son on an outing, then I'll go to the library and work there. I think I need to throw out the last few hundred words I wrote and start over. This scene is tricky, and I'm going to have to choose my path through it carefully.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Checking In

Okay, so I know it's only been three days, but so far I am loving EdMo. I've only logged four hours, but I'm getting 500 words an hour, which is a very respectable pace for this draft. If I keep producing at this rate (which I'm sure I won't, but still), I'll have 25,000 words by the end of the month!

4/50 hours logged for March.
2,041 words.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Valley of the Shadow of the Middle

So after all that moaning and pissing, I worked for one hour and got 532 words. I'll take it. I'm doing NaNoEdMo this month, so that's my first hour logged! Maybe I won't set a word count goal at all this month, and just work the 50 hours and see how much I can accomplish.

The novel is at just over 60,000 words right now. Although I'm well past the mid-point of Somi's story, that's still halfway through the overall story (projected length is <120,000 words, and I'll have ~20,000 words for the hero's POV to add when Somi's tale is done). So I am diagnosing myself with the mid-novel blues. It just feels like I've been working so hard and so long, and OMFG I still have as much as I've done left to do???

I know: break out the violins. No one tied me up and forced me to write a novel. No one but me will care if I never finish it. So it's up to me to find a way through this valley.


Oof. Not a good few days for the novel. It snowed, again, and then iced over it. I'm sick, again, and will probably wind up on antibiotics this time. The rattle in my chest sounds like the freakin' ghost of Christmas past. I'm cranky and tired and my head is out of the story and I'm SO OVER winter and my kid is driving me crazy (although I suspect it's me and not him) and I fell short of my February word count goal to the tune of 5,000 words.

Enough of that. New month, fresh start. My only goal for today is to write for one hour during quiet play time (I napped for the entire 2.5 hours of The Son's nursery school session, and I have tutoring gig #2 tonight). I may not get that many words, but I need to get my head back into at least dreaming about the story.