Thursday, January 8, 2009

Slow Start, Gaining Speed

It's been tough, getting this new WIP off the ground. Lots of things have distracted me and, on top of that, I struggle with all the feelings one faces at the get-go, when the entirety of a full-length novel stretches before you. Can I do it? (Again? What if I'm a one-timer?) Will everything I hope for it mesh? What if this is a poopy idea? Etc., yada yada.

I've been happy with the first chapter. It sort of reads like a prologue might, because it's a look at the main character (MC)'s childhood. I love the background it gives, and it sets the tone for her adulthood.

Chapter two was where the trouble began. I was having issues transitioning into her "here and now," her adulthood, and had a couple false starts. Yesterday I deleted what I'd written (for the second time), and sat here at my desk, staring at the blank screen. And I waited. (Which isn't what King would have suggested...)

I wanted to "watch" what would happen in the story. I wanted to see it; then I would know it was right. Fortunately, I didn't have to wait too long; a scene came to mind, and I ran with it. I hashed out 990 words (about 6 pages), and completed the chapter! Not my biggest lump in one run, but it felt like major progress. Heck, it was! And, one of the best parts, I know where to head with chapter three.

I feel like I've jumped that first hurdle. It's behind me now, and I can better set my sights on the next one.

They get easier as we go along, don't you think?

27 comments:

Rafael said...

If I make a bold suggestion (as in who the heck am I to tell you how to write anyway)?

This is the first draft, right?

Then erase NOTHING! Just plow through. I had that problem and then found myself with nothing. Get the story down first, the characters, the scenes. Think of this draft as a sketch, a study on the real scene that you will paint.

Just my two cents.

Good luck!

:-)

Angie Ledbetter said...

Good job, Janna. Plow on good farmer. :)

Janna Qualman said...

Rafael - It is the first draft. And I'm totally on board with your way of thinking. Usually. I felt safe deleting, though, because I hadn't accumulated anything more than a page or two, and it just didn't work at all. I have notes of what it included before, just in case, and in one instance I already rewrote an important aspect. But thanks for the advice! "Just plowing through" (and not editing as I go) is something I have trouble doing but need to work on. :)

Angie - Thanks, lady!

celestialwolf said...

Editing as I go really kills my productivity. I used to do it (still do it when I don't catch myself) and I never seemed to get anything longer than a short story completed. When I learned to leave the editing until later, magically a completed novel draft appeared. Fancy that. Sometimes you do have to re-write a scene or two.. maybe three but the important part is finishing it. You did it! Will it get easier? To be honest, I doubt it. Every book is a new project. The same butterflies. The same worries. I think those just come with the turf. Just keep writing and you'll be fine.

Melanie Avila said...

That's such a great feeling when a scene just clicks and pours out of you. I love it when that happens. One of my favorite scenes in my wip is one I added a week or so ago. I just reread it yesterday and I really like it.

And, I've also shared your thought - what if it's a poopy idea. :P I worried about that a lot while working on novel #2.

thedomesticfringe said...

I can't actually imagine taking on the job of writing an entire novel, so I admire your courage. I'm glad you jumped the hurdle and were productive.

Hope you have a happy writing day. Thank you for all your help. I really, really appreciate it! I know it took time out of your day.
-FringeGirl

Joanne said...

I'll bet that felt great to hash out those pages and get a sense of direction. Sometimes you just need to build that momentum before the writing really takes hold. Happy writing Chapter 3!

Ang said...

You keep going Janna and before you know it you will have your novel complete. I find starting out is the hardest because of all the thoughts rambling around in my brain and trying to get the words out like I want. Just write and then worry later. You will get there. Good luck.

Melissa Marsh said...

Funny that around the blogosphere today, there's lots of talk about deleting scenes, etc. :-)

Slowly but surely wins the race!

Janna Qualman said...

Cel - You definitely have a point. And I found that to be true with me, toward the end of my last novel. I allowed myself to just write with abandon. Maybe I can find such a way with this one.

Melanie - It really does feel good. :) Makes up for all those crap days, I guess.

FringeGirl - *gulp!* Yikes. And thanks! And you're welcome. :)

Joanne - That's exactly what it was: a sense of direction. I mean, I know the guts of the story, but chapter two defined the character in a way that helped my theme appear better.

Ang - With any luck! I hope to complete this one much quicker than the last, which took about a year, start to finish.

Janna Qualman said...

Melissa - Fo' shizzle. ;)

Jen said...

Well, even though you felt okay with deleting what you had (and heaven knows I've been known to hack and slash on a first draft, too), I would really suggest next time that instead of deleting it, just cut it out and paste it into a new document. Maybe what you had didn't work where you had it, but there could be room somewhere else, yadda yadda. And you can always delete when you're finished with the first draft and you're sure you're not going to use it after all.

Just my two cents on that bit.

As for the "What if it stinks?" feeling...oh, I know it too well! Good for you on pushing through and finishing the chapter. Go Janna! :)

Janna Qualman said...

*shrinks away from Jen's whip* Yes, ma'am!

LOL ;)

aaroncrocco said...

Great job Janna! You gotta love when lightning strikes like that and just makes you write like crazy. You made great progress. Best of luck with the next chapter.

Kathryn Magendie said...

I know what you mean - when I first began what is now tender graces, I had an adult woman, but I also wanted to tell the child's story - and etc etc - and finally, finally, it clicked how I would do that...which was actually quite different from the first "draft" I wrote...so lots of re-writing abounded...erk - but it was worth it, for the end result, well, I'm proud of it, and happy.

Sometimes just writing and writing and writing and not caring what comes out (like Bird by Bird's shitty rough draft - lamott) and your subcon mind will "take over" and all manner of good stuff can come out - some "bad" or not usuable, but so what? if you write 5000 words and 2000 are Hot Dang words, you have 2000 words!

:)

Turkey Lurkey said...

I am always afraid to stop writing for the day. I get worried that I wont finish it. (Although usually I do.)

Janna Qualman said...

Thanks, Aaron! I started it today and have to take a break here in a bit, but I hope to finish it this evening!

Kathryn - Thanks for reminding me of Lamott's thoughts. I think I have that section marked, and I'll go back and have a looksee.

Turk - What a great motivator, though!

Janet said...

I can't just plow through if something isn't working. I don't expect a first draft to be readable, but I can't have it sending me in wrong directions.

Anyway, congratulations on overcoming the first obstacle. On to the next!

WendyCinNYC said...

Good for you. I think I'm stuck in research-land for my next novel-length WIP. It feels better just to write.

Rafael said...

That is why I love writing on legal notepads (from my days in law school). I can simply strike out whatever I don't like without caring about even if my handwriting is legible (it isn't, left handed kid "taught" to write right handed). But whatever works for you. Carry on.

Janna Qualman said...

Janet - Yes! Exactly!

Wendy - Ugh, research. More power to you.

Janna Qualman said...

Rafael - Legal pads, eh? Not as pretty as all my fancy journals...

spyscribbler said...

I do think it gets easier. My first story, I was scared I couldn't finish at all. Even my second and third were a little hard. But I get more faith in myself, I think. (Faith that I'll finish. Faith in my writing is up and down, LOL.)

Rafael said...

No Janna....not by far!

LOL!

Terri Tiffany said...

I'm right where you are with it--so this is wonderful for me to read about your process.
I change so much and would have a problem keeping the bad stuff there.
SOmeday you will have another book to submit!!

Janna Qualman said...

Spy - I hear you on the faith part, as far as the writing goes. Doesn't it always seem like a teeter totter of sorts?

Terri - We should be "accountability partners."

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