"Writing", 22 November 2008

Midnight, eyes shoot open… oh what a wonderful idea! Seeing the castle, and the flames, hearing the shouts of the fighters, the clash and clangor of swords and shields. Slips out of bed to keep from waking significant other and hurries to the computer, tripping over cat in the dark. Whispers, ‘sorry, sorry’, pats cat, and sits down at keyboard. Pours a glass of wine. Music, I need music in the background. Cues up one album. No that’s not right. Cues up another. Better. Okay, okay. Fingers start tapping on the keys as the scenes flow, as dialogue is exchanged. Okay, okay, this is working. It’s wonderful, like watching a movie, with the characters moving around, the scenery projected onto the black night. No, wait, what happened? That’s not exactly right… Don’t fix it now, do that on the second draft, keep going with the flow…if you stop to fix everything so it’s perfect you’ll never get finished. Keeps writing as the doubts and anxiety creep in. Is it any good? Will anyone even like this? Drinks wine. I like it. I love it. But will anyone else? Keep writing, keep going. It’s good, it’s fine… Beloved character dies. Oh, I so did not see THAT coming. Typing through tears shared with the other characters, and, hopefully, the reader. So glad that hopefully has been certified as a good word, it wasn’t always. Sips wine, wipes tears, keeps writing. Wait. I thought that character was a bad guy, but he actually just wants to do what he thinks is best from his point of view. Interesting. Bad things happen to good characters. Making the villain real, getting inside his head – not a pleasant place to be. He does what to the hero? Or the heroine? A frantic rescue. Desperately hoping that what’s being written isn’t trite, trying to avoid writing what’s already been written by others. Stomach cramping, nerves working, is it any good? Keep writing. So tired, but I can’t stop now or I might lose the story. Exhausted, tumbles into bed. Waking, grabs something that can be eaten while typing. Working from the beginning, getting caught up in the story again. Sees how to fix that one scene to make it better. Tightens up this sentence, clarifies the actions of the fight scenes, picks up the next scenes, keeps writing. Fighting anxiety. It’s good, it’s good, isn’t it? Thank heavens for dishwashers. Feeds cat. Significant other on his own. Sleep, wake, write.

First draft done. Tries to walk away. Can’t. Still caught up in the characters. Starts second draft, cries through death of beloved character – again. Keeps going. Looks at what’s written. Doubt creeps in. It’s crap, garbage. No one will want to read it. Pours a glass of wine. Finish it, finish the book. Keeps working. This word would be better here. Oh, actually, this part isn’t bad, it’s actually pretty good. Okay, okay. Gets wrapped up in the story again. The end. Oh, when did that happen?

Feels oddly lost and out of sync.

Saves file in multiple places having lost a story or two to computer hell. Gets up, trying to stay away from the story. Leave it be. Moves between despair and hope. Is it any good?

Returns to real life. Cuddles with significant other, pets cat, does chores. Responds or clears out 153 unanswered e-mails, talks to friends.

Receives edits from another story from editor. Winces at the notes in the margins, at the corrections. It’s crap, it’s all crap. I can’t write. It’s all garbage. Note from editor – ‘I really like this scene’. Maybe not so much crap. Still, a glass of wine is needed as editing is done, stomach tightening. Why did I want to be a writer again? This story is good, though, isn’t it? My editor thinks so. Maybe it is all just garbage, and I’m just fooling myself.

Take break from edits to check e-mail to find a bad review on another story. The timing, with my edits, could not have been worse. Sixteen good reviews but one bad one sends me into a tail-spin. This one is particularly unpleasant, confirming all my doubts and fears. Said good reviews notwithstanding. Stupid, but true.

Pushing on through editing. The story really isn’t bad. Gets caught up in it again. Okay, maybe it’s pretty good. Finishes edits with relief. It’s actually not bad. But is it ready for prime-time? It’s as good as I can make it. Sends to be formatted. They catch two typos. *facedesk* Fixed, it goes live in two weeks. At least we caught them, but there could still be more despite all the eyes on it. Stomach twisting. It’s time, though.

Checks e-mail. Finds  a nice review. HURRAY!!!

Picks up new story, finally, for polishing before sending to editor, fighting anxiety. Is it any good? Settles down with glass of wine and starts from the beginning. Gets drawn into the story again. It’s the kind of book I want to read, but will readers? I did something in this book that I hadn’t seen anywhere else, and the logic of it held, but will people like it or hate it? Polishes and tightens, finds particularly crappy passage. Ack! What was I thinking? Is it too emotional? Not emotional enough? Rewrites, rewrites. Okay, better… maybe even good. Good enough to send to my editor? Maybe, possibly, probably. Stomach in knots. Hits Send. No, no, I want to take it back. Maybe I should take another swing at it? No, I did the best I could. Applied the Elements of Style, etc. Now there’s just the waiting, and the glimmer of another story.

Doing the dishes the glimmer becomes more of a real story… What music? Okay, that will work. Settles down at keyboard and gets lifted up by the new story, exhilarated and ecstatic as the images come, and the characters speak….

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Valerie Douglas is a prolific writer and genre-crosser, much to the delight of her fans. She reads and writes classic fantasy, romance, suspense, and as V.J. Devereaux, erotic romance. Who knows what will pop up down the road!

Happily married, she’s companion to two dogs, three cats and an African clawed frog named Hopper who delights in tormenting the cats from his tank.

Valerie Douglas is the co-founder and one of the administrators of the 12,000+ member Indie Author Group – supporting writers around the world.
Visit her blog at Valerie Douglas, Author at Large

2 Responses

  1. I find I can’t live in the same room with a work in progress. It begs too much of my attention. I have to keep my lap top, my list of notes and philisophical framework in another room. It puts a little bit of space between me and the work.

    I also find that writing gets harder the older I get. Somedays I can get a page. Somedays more, much more. Part of that is age, part of that is a 18 hour a day day job that can really suck energy (I usually get a few paragraphs after clients go to bed though).


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