My drug of choice is writing––writing, art, reading, inspiration, books, creativity, process, craft, blogging, grammar, linguistics, and did I mention writing?

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The Holiday Season (Personal Update and Upcoming Shenanigans)

Image description: Writer looking...absolutely totes adorbs.
Really Rough Draft  

Raw unfettered shit- 60, 203 (Last update 68,508) [Just this update- 8305]     

Slightly polished turd- 34, 809 (Last week 34,809)  [Just this week- 0] 

*Reminder slightly polished turd is usually soft revision I've done to help jump start me into the next day's writing. It's no where close to a second draft, but it's a bit more polished than my raw copy. But a blank page is a hard start.

I really wanted to not post my numbers today. Especially since that's two weeks worth of writing. I mean I really, really wanted to just skip it for a few weeks and then when I had punched out some good writing sessions, suddenly say "Oh yeah. It's totally been a while. My bad!" Then with the big days to even out the bad, it would look kind of like a crappy average, but acceptable progress.

But accountability is accountability. This is how the sausage gets made. And this is the season where everything upends.

So that shall be my lesson for the week (cue the twangy mouth harp music):

First of all, when you hit those really shitty periods of uber-busy–and you will because you're human and have to live in the real world with holidays, day jobs, and bills to pay and we can't all be fucking Stephen King with his four to six hours a day (even if you manage to strip your life bare of social life, a job that affords you luxuries like "a studio apartment," and some semblance of work/life balance)–it's more important than ever to keep pounding out a few words whenever you can. Grab what time is left and wring every last syllabic drop out of it. For me that chaotic period is the end always at of the semester and the holidays (and I always get sick at the end of the semester too), and nothing hits quite as hard as the two weeks or so before Christmas when I'm taking the one-two punch from both of those things.

Not just because you've got a bunch of Kickstarter backers wondering what the hell you're doing with their money (or maybe that's just me) but for two reasons.

Number one, those words add up faster than you think. One of the reasons I'm so ambivalent about NaNoWriMo is that it sells this narrative that you sit down and just SPLAT out a book. That's not how it works. That's NEVER how it works. You don't work at the 1776 words a day. Your book comes out of you in fits and starts. Sometimes you struggle with three paragraphs. Sometimes you write for six hours and realize you have to erase every word of it. And sometimes you zone out and find yourself coming out a sweat drenched haze hours later with your heart pounding and your eyes burning and your knuckles sore but there's 20 new pages you can barely remember having written–and it's good shit too.

But if you gut something, even when it's tough, you'll see an inexorable progress. What would have happened if I'd just said "Fuck it. I'm way too busy right now. I'll catch up starting Dec 26." Well, as of this writing (with still 12 days to go) I would be eight thousand words and change behind where I am right now. Books are birthed through strenous labor. They don't slide effortlessly out of us. But there's something we can do to help them along, even between "contractions."

Number two you have to stay inside your Work In Progress (WIP). Stories you're telling yourself are like stories you're reading or shows you're watching. After a couple of days you start to slip out of your characters' minds. They feel stale and unfamiliar. A few more days and you're struggling to remember where you were going, what was happening, even the inner voice of your protagonist. If you put down your pen every time life comes up, you end up spending more time trying to get back into your groove and pace. And if you're not very, VERY careful during your revision, you work will have a patchwork feel. Scene shifts will feel clunky. Resolutions handwaved. Conflicts forgotten. Like it's a quilt sewn together from squares of different emotional touchpoints and even slightly different writers–which of course, in a very real sense, is exactly what has happened.

There's a reason professional writers only let the most outrageous of personal crises pull them from the page for more than a day or three.

This week is going to be all kinds of out of order for blog posting as I try to get you good articles early in the week (in addition to still moving over articles to the Social Justice Bard menu) and get a Star Wars article written to time with the release of Rogue One. But then OG is coming into town this weekend, so anything not written by then is going to have to be jazzhands and superfudge. I can write a little when company is in town, but I sure as hell can't get a whole dedicated blog post written and revised.

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