The Flying Leap

Leap  I have a problem with transitions.

I finish writing a scene. It’s good and strong and true. It shows what is happening and how it affects everyone. Then . . . I need to get to the next scene. That’s where gravity takes over.

I describe how everyone got from Point A to Point B. *Yawn*. I tear that out and try just beginning in the middle of Point B. *Huh??* I tear that out and try to write something that zips us through the space between points. I tear it out and try something else. FINALLY, I think I have enough so that the reader has made the jump without either boredom or disorientation.

I sometimes wish I could just skip the transitions entirely. Write a string of asterisks or something, jump into the next scene, and take care of it on the rewrite. I’ve tried the fast first draft idea–skip ahead, blast through the action/dialogue/reactions of the next scene–but it doesn’t work for me. I can’t move ahead until I’ve left behind me something that bears a closer resemblance to what I’m actually trying to write, even though I know it will go through countless revisions before it’s actually done. Occasionally I can go back and insert a marginal comment to plant a hook for something I’m doing right now (like, “emphasize the scar on Evan’s right hand”), but that’s as far as I can get from writing something that feels complete. Maybe I’ll get over this as I get more maturity, but for now I’m stuck here.

So, the good news: this week I wrote about 2,000 words. The bad news: I threw over half of them away. My official word count for the week is just about 900 words, so I didn’t make my goal. I did, however, make my leap and got myself into the next scene. Ah, well. I’ll take it.

Close. REALLY Close

NearMiss  I’ll call it close enough.

This week I met my word goal, with just over 1,200 words. I did it in two days, not three, though, so I didn’t hit my butt-in-the-seat goal. The reason is a simple, silly one – I was thinking all week that I’d already written one day this week, so I just had to do two more on the weekend, and guess what – I hadn’t. So I buckled down and did the words, so that’s good, right? And I got through the transition I’ve re-started three or four times, into the next thing that happens, so it’s real progress. I’m over halfway through Chapter 3, and we’ve met the bad guy up close. Not the ultimate bad buy, but what looks like the ultimate bad guy at this point in the story – later we’ll find there’s another, even badder, behind this one. Bwaahaahaa!

I did have a very down moment this week. I’m reading Whiskey Tango Foxtrot by David Shafer, and one of the characters is a hard-drinking drug-addicted author skating along on the success of his first book, failing entirely in his attempt to write his second. As we follow him through yet another day of being a failed author, he sits down in a coffee shop and knocks out 1000 words. He loses concentration, gets some coffee, and writes another 1000 before giving up for the day. What a failure. On his worst day, he wrote almost twice my weekly target! Yeah, yeah, his job description is “author” – he doesn’t have a “day job,” like being a college professor [classes start Tuesday, yeep], but he does all kinds of consulting and media appearances and such. I almost snarled at him and at Shafer and wanted to toss the book, but actually it’s really good so I just kept reading. Not writing, mind you. But hey, it’s words, right? Got to be good for me, right?

But seriously, I met my target, or close enough. Not anyone else’s target, but MINE. I’m okay with that.

Make Me a Match?

MatchI almost was brave enough to let someone else take a look at my writing – but not quite.

One of the blogs I follow is by Janet Reid, Literary Agent. Her Sharkship is awesome – I recommend it to anyone interested in writing and in submitting one’s writing for publication. In today’s blog she focused on her matchmaking service for people looking for writing partners or critique groups. The idea is that you send her a message describing what you’re looking for: how often you want to submit work to the group/partner, how much you submit at a time, where you are in the writing process (outline to final revision), what kind of feedback you’re looking for. She matches people up, and then you have someone to work with. You will get feedback and encouragement, and will know that if you don’t meet your goals, someone will be waiting for you.

I almost signed up.

Why didn’t I? Two reasons, I think.

One is that I’m turning out such a tiny amount of work on a daily or weekly basis, it would hardly seem worthwhile for someone else to be waiting as the words drip out of me like sap from a maple tree. By the time I finish a chapter, for instance, it can be a month or two later and my partner won’t remember any more what the last chapter was about. Hey, I almost can’t remember, and I’m working on it every day every week or so, at least.

The other is simple cowardice. Actually, maybe not so simple. It’s not just fear of hearing negative things about my work, though there is some of that, of course. The other thing is that I don’t want to have someone counting on me to read their work carefully, think about it, and come up with meaningful, helpful feedback. Who am I to give someone else advice? I’m lost here, myself. It terrifies me to think that someone else might be counting on me for guidance. An interesting way for me to feel, given that I’m a teacher by profession, giving students guidance on their work, including writing assignments, constantly. But there, I’m an expert, fairly confident in myself. Here, not so much.

So, no match for me. Maybe if I get farther down my road, get more confidence, get closer to a draft I want to show someone. it will happen. For now, no.

Oh, and by the way – I wrote three days this week, for a total of 1230 words. Met my goal! Yay!

My Pail Leaks

LeakyPailI really like to write. I really want to write. (And so far I’m on track with my new goals, so that’s good.) So why don’t I write more?

My pail leaks.

By which I mean – I DO write more. I write all the time. Unfortunately, lots of it is not on my book. One reason I didn’t write yesterday is that I was polishing and posting my character notes from my last tabletop RPG game session: 2000 words on what we did, saw, thought, and talked about as we try to solve the mystery our GM has thrown at us. I’m the semi-official archivist for my gaming group, a responsibility I take seriously, and my notes are the nearly-official record of what transpired. But having written that, I was totally done for the day. The day before that I worked on the revision of the materials for my first week of Intro psych classes. This was mostly PowerPoint slides, but it’s still writing: thinking about my audience, what message I want to give, and how best to deliver that message.

All this writing takes the pressure off. My motivation — leaks out. So when I’m faced with something challenging, like Chapter 3 (which I have now started three different ways), I back down.

I don’t know what to do about this. I love my job and my gaming hobby, and won’t be quitting either any time soon. Somehow I need a way to reserve some creative energy for the fiction. This is something I need to work on. Any advice from any source would be helpful!