I’ve lived a crazy mix in the three weeks since my previous post, with more ups and downs than a snakes and ladders board.
Three computers have failed on me, losing work each time. I’m careful with backups, but now I back up every day. It would have needed backups every hour to avoid losing some work in these cases though! Last Sunday, thanks to malfunctioning software that looked like it was saving, but wasn’t, I lost over 5000 words of planning for my new story, all the character bios, a loooooooong day’s work. There’s been some minor dramas with the mother-in-law. My husband is ill. And I’ve been challenging myself with my writing. Yes, I’m a week behind where I hoped to be, but I’m still on track.
*smiles* It’s not the same track I expected I’d be on, but that’s okay!
If there’s a lesson in all this, and I’m sure there is because I don’t believe anything happens by accident, it’s that I can keep writing no matter what, and I don’t need to be so attached to my planning documents. I can’t read them back, but on some level, I know what I need to know for the story.
The Fast Draft was… interesting.
I got nearly 70k in less than two weeks, and discovered I could write 6k a day and 2k in an hour using timed writing if I really pushed myself. A messy, drecky, typo-ridden 2k, sure, but more than I ever believed I could possibly achieve in an hour.
I’m hoping that now I know it’s doable, like the 4 minute mile, I’ll be able to keep doing it and doing it and doing it. Well, I couldn’t do a four minute mile, I’m more like a fifteen minute mile, but you know what I mean! Once I know what speeds I can reach, that writing fast isn’t only for 100 word a minute typists with no fear of RSI, I can do it again. I type about 35 words a minute, top speed, maybe. But 2k an hour is still within my reach.
That’s the good part.
The bad part is that the 70k is pretty much unusable as it is. I haven’t tried reading it back, but if there is, I’ll be surprised. I got nowhere near finishing the story, which was meant to be 70k all prettied up and edited and with all the lovely stuff layers in in rewrites. 70k of tangled mess that got me just past the midpoint wasn’t part of the plan. I felt like an utter failure, wondered why I’d been nuts enough to give up a well paid secure job for the stupid dream of writing when I obviously couldn’t do it.
But another good part was realising what I did wrong.
My original concept for the story was a kind of literary women’s fiction, a patchworking of other wildly different points of view on the background of the main character’s story, somehow making a unified whole, like a quilt is made of so many different pieces of fabric. Then I saw what one of the Harlequin Love Inspired Historical editors had on her submission wish list and realised I could use the research I’d done for this story to write something she might be looking for. And that’s what I planned and set out to write and arranged to pitch to her.
But my writer self had other ideas. What came out in the 70k followed the plan I’d carefully made, but had so much more in it than I planned. I didn’t know what I had. All I could see was my story spiralling out of control. I couldn’t possibly pitch this story, the one I wanted first drafted before the pitch day. Also, I’d thought some more and realised what I planned most likely wasn’t a fit with what she asked for, and even if it was, I had no idea how to get the story on track anyway. I felt like dropping into despair. Instead, I asked for help and guidance.
What I got was a new story to pitch, a contemporary inspiration romance. What I got was permission to slow down on the Fast Draft, but that I should keep writing on it, but just 2k a day while I planned the new story. After two days of that, I had a flash of insight.
Yes, it really was a flash. Like a light switching on. I could see what had gone wrong with the story. Bizarrely, I hadn’t just combined the two versions, the original lit fic one and the planned-for inspy romance. What came out had threads of those stories, but also included a third story, a women’s fiction with romantic elements that had a totally different focus. Something that had been merely an incidental plot device in the “plan”, a manufactured way to throw the hero and heroine together more, became the main character arc in the draft - her finding herself as a healer, and finding her own model for what being a woman means. It’s the start of a family saga. And I also saw how to “fix” all three stories.
So instead of failing, I got a bonus! I now have three stories to carefully untangle out of that unfinished first draft.
Oh, and I got a request from the editor at the online pitch, too, so next week I’ll get moving on the Fast Draft of the new story, too. I’m so excited about it! I wanted to start drafting last week, but all the computer problems got in the way of that.
And there’s a good thing in the delay as well! After the mess that came from my carefully detailed plan last time, I decided to just have a rough back-of-an-envelope sketch map this time, an idea of the major turning points and that’s it. Well, no. I now have a pretty good plan, not totally detailed, but pieces that were big blank plot holes are now filled in. I feel more ready to write than ever before, and more scared. Knowing an editor actually wants to see what I’ll write? Eeep!
But I’ll do it anyway. I’ll just keep asking for guidance and support, and keep trusting. And keep reading this inspiring quote I found tucked away in a file when I was doing one of the multiple backups and transferring stuff from one computer to another this week. I have no idea where I copied it from in the first place. If you know, please tell me so I can attribute it properly!
God created me to write
God wants me to write
God empowers me when I write
God blesses me when I write
My writing is beautiful, because my writing is a gift from God.
I’m so grateful for that! Whatever you have been given a deep love to do, substitute it for “write”, and it still holds true.
Photo by mellicious via Flickr