Book 3 and The Repeat of Everything I Thought I Already Mastered

I’ve completed 2 rough drafts of 2 novels and a couple revisions of the first one. Right now I’m trying to finish the 3rd rough draft so that I can make all the books work together nicely … and I’m stalling.

Stalling. Flaking. Procrastinating. Whatever you want to call it. All of my successes are irrelevant, and right now I’d like to do nothing more than get the f’k out of Paris.

The feel of book 3 is very different than book 1. Charlotte has undergone a lot of change, yet her primary problem remains the same. Book 3 is where she realizes this and has to confront it … or not because she has more options than ever. Book 3 is where she faces what it really means to be a monster even though she thought she had that down in book 1. Book 3 is where I take a bunch of loose threads and pull them all real nice tight on the back side of the story so its tits pop out real nice on the front side. Except … I’m not yet sure I have the tits for it. Or if I’m pulling the right stings. OR if I’m even working with a corset here … maybe I have some man’s stained tighty whities instead, and I’m showing junk most people don’t want to see. This has me kind of paralyzed despite knowing that this is exactly the kind thing (if not the same metaphor) I was dealing with toward the middle of books 1 and 2.

And then I have to remind myself … “Yeah OK, so what?”

Done is better than perfect because perfect is impossible.

I’ve wasted weeks of not writing because … I’m lazy. I’m blocked. I’m scared. I’m bored. I’m busy. I’m a liar to myself saying that I’ll do it tomorrow, yet every day is the same.

Still, people believe in me, or at least believe in my potential – which is just as good for me. And just as bad. But you know what? Fuck it. I’ve got work to do. So I’m going to do what I can to do and be happy to have it done.

You go do the same. Go create something new.

© 2018, Joseph K Little. All rights reserved.

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Words Per Hour and Quality

Hey folks. In my last post I said that I would soon post an example of my words per hour when I’m writing at 2000 words per hour versus 3750 words per hour. The difference is quite comical, I can assure you. Both of these examples will eventually have to be re-written or even discarded based on what happens during revision. The idea here is to illustrate that while the 2000 words per hour sample is much better in almost every sense, the 3750 words per hour example does something significant. It gets the story out faster and more pure.

So here’s my first sample. This is completely unedited from my original discovery draft of my third novel. Charlotte’s best friend has just woken her up as she sat with a pile of papers surrounding her. I’m trying to ramp up some mystery.

“Sorry,” I said wiping a small bit of very un-ladylike drool from the side of my mouth. I sat up in my chair and began shuffling the papers together. I hadn’t been able to tell what was what and couldn’t draw anything more than some vague ideas of what might be related to what, so I simply scooped those piles up together and then stacked the piles on top of one another.

“Oh Char,” Sophie said in the manner that always told me that she was about to lovingly reprimand me. “You need to get some sleep now that you are human again. And you need to eat right. Eggs and toast will not due anymore. You need fruits and vegetables too. And some proper meat on occasion.”

I winced when she said meat. I’ve eaten enough meat in the last couple years to last me several years, but I knew that she spoke the truth from a place of love. That did not make the fact any more easy to swallow.

“I know. I know,” I said. “I had gotten so used to never needing to sleep unless I was hurt. I feel like I’m sleeping my life away.”

Sophie gave me a look. “Yes my love. I know. Yet you only sleep about four hours a day, unless I count all of the minutes that you fall asleep sewing.”

I nodded.

“Or eating,” she continued.

I nodded some more.

“Or on the privy.”

“Hey!” I objected. “That only happened the one time.”

Sophie laughed. “I thought I had lost you. You had been gone for almost an hour.”

“It was some of the best sleep I have gotten in days.”

“The most disgusting too.”

I could only nod again.

OK. I can’t say that’s my best writing in the world, but it’s pretty clean for me. Now below is a sample from book two. This is from a bit that I was doing for NaNoWriMo. Charlotte and Edmound have broken into a merchant’s home and are looking for incriminating evidence or trade secrets, the like. Everything seemed to be going well enough until they are discovered.

I had 2 days to write 15000 words and it only took me about 4 hours … plus some change as the first hour or so I waffled on if I was going to be able to do this or not. Needless to say I could. My message here is that you can too if you get out of your own way. Now be prepared because this is pretty hard to read, even for me. And I wrote it.

There’s a pounding at the door and the knob begins to jiggle. Edmound is all “OH SHIT” Charlotte is all darn. Let’s move the desk in front of the door. Good thinking. Wait it weights a ton? What? No it doesn’t but it is heavier than I can move. Push man push! Edmound begins to push and then Charlotte starts to push in truth. She pushes just hard enough to allow Edmound to do all the work he can. He’s sweating and his sweat is getting on some of the documents causing the ink to run. They slide the desk over to the door just as the lock clicks and the door starts to open. Something gets in the door, a sword blade wide and keeps the door from closing, but the big old desk is all in the way. Charlotte and Edmound begin gathering papers and the things the decide to steal. Charlotte is all “how are we going to carry all this?” And Edmound is all our I brought bags and she’s all out? And he pulls out a pair of tightly woven cloth bags, like sail material and all double stitched. Where did you put this? In the back of my jacket. The bags have a pair of straps. Charlotte fills hers – she still has some space. Edmound fills his. Banging on door intensifies. So the tow are all ok now what the fuck. Charlotte is all, idk but I’m grabbing some of these books. What they’ll only weight you down? I’m stronger than I look. It’ll be fine. Whatever. Charlotte packs her back full of books. They kick open a window. It’s a long way down. Shit. But it isn’ very far up? Charlotte is all, I can climb that bitch. Bitches love to be climbed. So she climbs out the window, and climbs right up the side of the building to the top of what is the tower. There she finds some well placed rope which she dangles down to the window. Edmound climbs. The door is being chopped in two as Edmound climbs out of the building. Charlotte pulls him up as quickly as he can climb. When he gets over the lip of the roof, a crossbow bolt flies up nearly striking him. Shit. They got guns …l sort of .

Now, there’s some right comedy in there, because that’s how my brain thinks at high speed. In memes and swears. I can clean that up pretty well in revision. Granted some of it is almost golden in its own way, but that’s not the kind of story I’m looking to tell. Not this time at least.

In both instances, I got the story OUT. If you remember my insistence from the prior post, then that will sound familiar. GET THE STORY OUT. A blank page is potential and in a lot of ways perfect, much like the idea of a child. But if you really want to HAVE CHILDREN then you are going to have to realize you’re going to have to do some really nasty things in the beginning. The kids will almost never be exactly as you imagine them. And you might really f’k up a time or two. But that’s ok. That’s what editing … um … psychiatrists are for. Regardless, you’ll probably find that you’re having a lot of fun in the process. Especially in the beginning. 😉

Now I’ve revealed to you my shame. Look at those examples. So much editing needed. But that’s fine. I like editing my stuff. Revision is fun … at first at least 😀

No you go out and create something new.

© 2018, Joseph K Little. All rights reserved.

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Writing Process

Hey folks. I know it has been a while since I last posted, so I thought I would post something hopefully kinda funny and a little informative.

If you’re just starting out like I am, then like me you may not have a ton of skills. Building new skills is a constant pursuit of mine. Well it is at least when I’m not procrastinating, fighting depression, or stuck deep in some mindless pursuit. I’m constantly trying to get myself into a consistent schedule. I’m starting to come around, but it is tough at times.

One of my original problems was thinking too much about what I was writing. Sometimes I know exactly what I want to write and the words just pour out of me. Other times I sort of know the gist of what I want to write about, but I don’t know how to get there. In those instances – which are far more common than I’d like – I worry and fret about what to write. I’ll often remove entire paragraphs or even pages of text because I decided to go another direction or it just didn’t “feel” right.

What I’ve come to discover however, was that I’m just doing this all wrong. The goal is simply to get the story out. As Ann Lamott says so eloquently in her book, Bird by Bird, “All first drafts are shit.” I’m probably paraphrasing because I don’t want to reach over the three feet it would take to pick up my copy of the book and find the actual entry, but I got the spirit of quote if not it exactly. That stuff that comes out of your fingers either by pen, pencil, keyboard, or maybe if you’re 10000 years old, a clay tablet, that stuff is all shit. You are going to have to re-write it. All of it. Maybe many, many times.

So why not just … get it out?

Get it out as quickly as possible. Just write whatever your stupid fingers tell you you want to write, and then later your sober, rational brain can read it and say “WTF was I trying to say here? Damn, you fingers write some real shit.” And then maybe you scratch that part out, or maybe you look at little more and go, “Oh wait, I was wrong. This is actually quite brilliant once you wash the shit off of it. I just need to re-write this part like … so …” and suddenly that part will be better than your first draft. As a side bonus, it will exist, which is what it will most likely NOT do if you fret about it unendingly.

For me the first draft is like pulling mud from a creek to try to make a dish or a pot. There’s a lot of mess and quite a bit of waste, but I’m new to this so I’m not going to kick myself in the ass anymore about it not being immediately perfect. I’m just going to do it. One day I may be able to do it without quite as much mess or waste, but it’s still mud. There’s no getting around that part. Hell even when I get my clay to the wheel, I still don’t know the exact shape of what I’m about to build, but I do have a good idea. Once the base shape is formed, I can modify that to my heart’s content. The fact remains that even at this step, it’s still really just mud, nicely shaped mud. There’s still more to do. So the process must be followed step by step in the proper order until one day someone is going to be eating out of the bowl or pot or whatever I made and they’ll never see, never even consider that at one point in time that thing they are eating from was once simple mud.

How freaking cool is that?

In my next post, I’ll provide some sample text from some sprints I’ve done recently. My average words per hour during the sprints was just over 2000. At the end of last NaNoWriMo, I wrote 15,000 words in about 4 hours over two days – so about 3750 words per hour. The difference in quality of my writing from 2000 to 3700 WPH is comical, but I DID get the story out with those 3750 words per hour. I probably would not have won NaNo 2018 had I wrote at 2000 WPH. Getting the story out is the most important, supreme number one, first bullet point thing period!!!!!11!11!11!!!!! (Was that emphasized enough?) 😀

No go forth and create something new.

© 2018, Joseph K Little. All rights reserved.

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The Revision Process for Book One – the Beginning

I mentioned this in a my post on finding out I had depression, but it’s a big deal so I’m going to restate it. I’ve finished my rough draft!!

WOO HOO!

I think I need to talk a little bit about how finishing my rough draft came to be before I start talking about how revision is going for me.

I STRUGGLED to finish my rough draft. I almost quit several times because I didn’t know where I was going on top of all of my natural insecurities. I’d started writing with a loose outline and quickly veered from it. Whenever I looked at where I was going versus where I planned to go, I decided that I liked my changes more than I liked the original loose outline, so I kept going. I got farther and farther into the weeds. I wasn’t exactly sure where I was going but turning back meant abandoning half or more what I had written, stuff I loved, and I wasn’t going to do that to myself. So I resolved that first I was going to finish. I was going to finish something, ANYTHING. Once I finished I would go back and fix everything, but I couldn’t change anything significant (which I always want to do) until I had finished the rough draft.

So I did what everyone told me to do but I fought the entire way. I stuck my ass in my chair, I put my hands on the keyboard, and I didn’t get up until two hours or 1000 words graced the pages.

As God as my witness, it was HARD.

Then one night, I’m working on this mystical element that I was using to connect the protagonist to her future mentor, and bam! There was the climax. Suddenly I was writing the final chapter. Where had it come from? Who the fuck cares? It worked, so I ramped up the tension, I dialed up the consequences, and I pushed my heroes to the limit forcing one to sacrifice something of him or herself for the other to prevent disaster.

When I finished I sat back and went, “wow”. I liked it. I liked it a LOT. But I knew the rough draft was broken in a dozen different places. I have really cool scenes that I know just aren’t going to make it to the final product. I cut an entire subplot. I have problems and characters introduced much later in the manuscript that I know need to be foreshadowed or introduced much earlier. I have issues with continuity. Finally I have no real external conflict, and while that might work for some stories, I think mine really needs a solid external conflict of some sort.

So I took a week off before revising.

Then a week turned into two, which turned into a month.

During the month I pitched around several ideas about what I might do to give my story some external conflict that paralleled or at least co-operated with my protagonist’s internal conflicts. I finally hit on a couple of different things I could do. One of those ideas was an externalization of her literally internal fears and desires. I asked my psychiatrist about this because it felt like something someone would read and yell about how I didn’t understand the ego and id or some such, but she thought it was a neat idea and was interested in reading it when completed. My writing coach was really excited about it too.

But I was scared.

Yes. I was scared. This was revision time. I had come to the conclusion that “the Rough Draft is Shit” (see Anne Lamontt‘s Bird by Bird). But revisions? Revisions are supposed to be better, and I didn’t know I had it in me.

Finally, after letting way too much time go by without writing, I decided to test out my ideas. I found the single most deplorable, sickest, and potentially reader-alienating scene in my book about a ghoul, and I rewrote that scene with all relevant changes in mind. The rewrite was about 6000 words, and I kind of loved it. But I’m a little bit of a sick puppy so I figured I would reach out to a few friends and family to see if they would give me some feedback.

Almost everyone loved it.* I mean of course they would, they’re friends and family, but those that loved it, really loved it. They wanted to read the whole thing right then, but I didn’t have the whole thing. I just had that one scene. But their wanting to read more makes me want to write more. So that’s what I’ve started to do.

This week I’m nearing 21k words revised. Almost 14k revised this week alone. I’ve been putting off blog posts because I’ve been writing, which is nice, but my idea for this blog was to always leave you folks in the loop on the off chance that one day, someone would be looking for some inspiration, stumble upon this site, and find out that they are not alone. This shit is hard, but if you do it, you’ll reap vast rewards even if you never sell a single copy. This is the most fulfilled I have felt in a long time – although that could be the drugs talking. Whatever. I’ll take it.

If you’ll excuse me, I need to do some more writing tonight. I need another 2.2k to hit my weekly target. My deadline for Revision 1 being done is Sept 30, 2017 which of this writing is 49 days away.

I’ll try to keep you posted.

Now go forth and create something new.

* The only person not to love it didn’t expect and adult horror novel. They were expecting a YA chapter. I felt bad.

© 2017, Joseph K Little. All rights reserved.

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