Journal

The Sunday Circle: 03.12.17

This all got started via author Peter M. Ball over at his blog, Man Vs. Bear. Check it out!

What am I working on this week?: Last week was a bumpy one. Of course, when I sat down to figure out what the “next few chapters” would be, I decided to stop for a moment and jot down an idea for a wholly different angle on the beginning, which turned into a four-hour plotting session and a decision to scrap the 21k I’d already gotten down in February, to start the newer version from the beginning. There’s some I can maybe salvage, but most of it’s out the window. That’s the bad news. The good news is that I’m really psyched about the new take on the main character, and this new envisioning has given her a whole new life and complexity the previous draft just didn’t have (and which I *knew* was missing). I’m about 4k in now, having had to start and scrap a few scenes before settling on the right mood and tone, but I think I’ve got a handle on it now. So this week: 1k/day, plugging right along.

What’s inspiring me this week?: Still hooked on Mrs. Dalloway, but also watching Z on Amazon. They’re nice, short episodes (which I find I’ve been missing in the hour+ long shows I’ve tended to watch), but they’re visually stunning, and there’s something about the Fitzgeralds that’s just…mesmerizing. And I’m charmed by the historic visual of a single book sale funding the rental of a penthouse apartment at a lux hotel in addition to new clothes and fancy nights out. It reminds me of reading Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life, and reading that a single short story sale of $150 could cover their rent for several months (admittedly in a tiny hovel, but you can’t even get a tiny hovel for that anymore!).

What am I avoiding? Not so much a problem of avoiding so much as getting hung up on scenes that are close, but not quite what I want. I think I’m at a point where I can move forward now after getting stuck on a scene for a few days (it’s good enough, and the tone is generally right, and general tweaks to the details in the scene shouldn’t disrupt too much later on down the line), but I really just want to get back to making better progress. That said, the slower, more deliberate process *is* creating prose I like better than I did in the first draft (which just plugged along, but didn’t have all that much soul). So I may just have to resign myself to this draft taking more focus and deliberation as I move through it. I know there’s a lot of advice out there to just write as fast as you can to get it down, but the truth is, on certain stories I’ve written in the past, I’ve found it much more efficient for me to correct a doubtful spot when I hit it, rather than plug on through it (it’ll keep bothering me, and eventually I’ll go back to that spot and rewrite everything anyway in the rewrite, and I’ll just have wasted time on prose I have to throw out if I push through). And so far, that’s worked pretty well on this draft. I’m actually pretty happy with what I’ve got, even if it’s taken longer to get down, and that’s an improvement over the last draft for sure!

2 thoughts on “The Sunday Circle: 03.12.17”

  1. Hi Maggie. You sound like you make progress like I do, sort of in a state of punctuated equilibrium, constantly shaken up by new and better ideas. It’s a positive in some respects (you get the new and better ideas), but also a bit of a trap because they can disrupt an otherwise clear path to reaching a goal. I admit that, like you, I’ve read the advice to push through and finish no matter what, but I do think that for some the fixing and improving as you go thing is just part of their process. One of my recent stories I pushed through to the end after merging two characters halfway through, and I’m now finding it very difficult to rewrite the first half such that it properly matches the feel and tone of the second. I expect I’ll find a way, but left to my own devices I’d not have had the problem, as I’d have fixed it in first draft before continuing, and the two halves would never has existed as separate things. In any case, good luck with getting it done!

    1. Exactly my predicament, too! I need that streamlining. Sometimes I find retyping the first chunk I need to incorporate into the second half from scratch helps to pull it all together, but I prefer not to do that if I don’t have to!

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