I’ve been very quiet on here of late. That’s because I’ve been concentrating on getting that final draft of Infixion done, so that all I have to do is read through, edit, polish. All, she says – ha!
The first draft was relatively easy. I had a good idea of where it was going, what would happen etc, so simply wrote it. Bingo. Except during the second draft, I realised I didn’t like almost fifty per cent of it. Now, I don’t know if it’s just me, but if I’ve written something I don’t like, it makes me feel a bit sick. I get a strange feeling in my guts – must be what they call a ‘gut reaction’.
And I don’t only have to like every single bit of my story, I have to love it.
So, I cut that fifty per cent and re-wrote. That, of course, changed the other bits – the bits I had liked, so more re-writing. I also have a terrible habit of writing in flippant mode when I first start. All that has to go too. Essential that the tone is right, and flippant is not right for my stuff – definitely not.
Sometimes, during this stage, it feels like climbing an impossible mountain – overwhelming – and I doubt my ability to ever get up there. Panic sets in. I’m wasting my time. It’s all crap. And the perennial wail rings out, ‘I can’t do it.’
So I don’t do it, for an hour, a day, maybe even a few days, and I try to think of something else. And all the time, there’s this guilty feeling because it’s waiting for me to sort it out, and if I don’t do it, no one will, that’s for sure. All that terrible writing, awful dialogue, dire description, will still be there, like a rebuke. Evidence of my lack of talent.
It calls me back, and I go, sulkily, resentfully, kicking at the pavement and pouting. A bit at a time, I repair it. Now and again, a spurt of inspiration will come and I’m off, writing like a soul possessed, only to come down the next morning to find it doesn’t fit – that it reads like something from a different story, or even a different writer. It’s too clever-clever, too flowery, too full of itself, cocky even. What was I thinking? Thinking I was a literary genius, that’s what. So, the word count goes down – and I start the section again, and suddenly, (yes, I know adverbs aren’t allowed. Knickers to that) it works, and it’s right, and it’s possibly the best feeling on earth, bar falling in love, because nothing beats that.
Eventually, the second draft gets done. Phew!
Then there’s the going back and adding or changing bits where I’ve typed, EDIT: DESCRIPTION HERE, or EDIT: CHECK TIMELINE, or EDIT: BORING – DO SOMETHING!!!, or EDIT: WHAT THE HELL? (or something less polite). All I have to do is search for EDIT, and hey, sorted.
I leave these notes to myself all over the MS. Sometimes, it’s because I don’t have time to describe the weather, or whatever, because if I don’t get that sequence down, I’ll forget the words in my head. Sometimes, I just want to move the story forward. Sometimes, it’s because my brain’s not in the right mode for that particular piece of writing. Sometimes, I just write enough for me to know what happens – e.g. he walks to the door and goes outside – so I can go back and write it properly, make it interesting, when I’m in a more relaxed, descriptive mode.
Then, I have to edit, polish, buff up those sentences, check again the continuity, timeline, weather, time of year etc etc. And this bit, I like. This bit I love. This bit makes all the work worthwhile.
The next, terrifying part is sending it out to beta readers to see if it makes sense. After all, I know what’s going on, but sometimes it’s hard to tell if your reader will. So beta readers are essential, and valuable, and precious, and I’m so, so grateful to them. And lastly, there’s sending the finished MS to my agent – and hoping she likes it – eek!
Now, I’d better get on with that polishing, and stop faffing about on here.