Last Friday, after working for eight hours and staying up until 10 PM, I finished the first draft for The Bookie. I gave some hours on Saturday to making a couple of corrections, scrolling through and filling out my timeline, listing some questions to research before the editing phase, and jotting down other things to tweak after I get the manuscript back from my beta reader. It’s longer than I planned. There are a couple of twists I didn’t see coming (and I hope readers will be surprised).
Part of my 3-month plan was to experiment with several things related to my writing and the surrounding business. I learned that though I can compose a story directly on the computer, I spend half my time editing. This is why I believe it took longer to write. However, if I’m looking at just time, handwriting and then typing or dictating into the computer probably takes the same amount of time. But maybe the first draft part, the pure creative part of getting the words down, would be easier if I went back to my spiral. The second thing I learned is that no matter the length of the project, about 3/4 of the way through, I’m in the trees and can’t see the forest. At least I’m consistent! Ha!
The other piece I realized, and I’m working on accepting, is that my stories are complex and that complexity takes a while to unfold. I have a lot of characters and more than one plot thread. I include backstory, the character’s thoughts, I change POV, I dive into the character’s emotions, and there is always a ton of dialogue. I’ve tried to not write this way, and it ends up being a painful struggle. That goes against what I believe to be true about making art. Yes, art can be cathartic, we can use it for healing, for expression, to understand ourselves and the world, and maybe it’s not always joyful, but the art suffers if we suffer while creating it. My choices are: 1) accept how the stories come to me and continue forward, 2) force myself and my stories into a single plot line and only a few characters. Sure, there are probably some shades of gray in between, but when I consider ease and enjoyment in the work of creating, then my best option is number 1.
I’m on to the next experiment! I have 3 spirals set aside, the pages marked to show me where to aim each day to record about 1,000 words. One spiral is for the prequel to the Waldman Investigations series, “The Raid.” The second spiral is for the serial Desert Zydeco. The third spiral is for the short story (yet unnamed). I have a file on my computer for the nonfiction (an educational workbook). Yesterday and today, I was able to work on 3 of the 4 projects. The writing is coming easier with pen to paper. Not as fast as before, but I think I’m rusty. Writing every day, even if it’s just 500 words, keeps me in the story and helps me see progress, which is important to my achiever brain 🙂 I have experiments ongoing regarding my writing process. After 14 years, I still have something to learn about how I create.