It’s cold outside, but not yet the kind of cold that bites the tip of your nose off and leaves your eyes watering. From what the weather folks at weather.gov tell me, that’s coming, though nothing nearly as bad as what everybody in the midwest is coping with right now. My hands are already dry and the knuckles cracking because I dared to cook food today, which means at least a few times washing my hands. Lotion is a poor defense against the grating cold and dry air.
I’ve been meaning to blog more, get into some kind of regular update schedule with regular posts, but the truth is, I like being unstructured. My main goal for the time being is to try to post once a week and warm up again. I love the Poly-reader posts, because it keeps me honest. I’ve fallen off the Sunday Circle wagon and need to crawl back to it. Truth is, throughout the holiday season, it was difficult to come up with any reasonable writing goals that weren’t immediately derailed by sickness (#preschoolplague) or holiday things or travel plans (we went to Austin during the end of December).
And it was also about mid-December that I realized my entire idea of what the third draft of the current WiP novel was horribly, inexplicably overcomplicated and flawed to the core, which left me not a little depressed and frustrated and convinced that perhaps I’d deluded myself into thinking I could write a book-length story. But, during our travels, I went back to the basics of plot development and started re-outlining the draft. I hesitate to say how far I am in the process, because while I’m actively sketching out scenes and hit Midpoint today, there’s a lot left to go back and rework, combine, cut, and generally streamline. It’s still a bit unwieldy, though I have to admit–I’m getting better at firing back at my inner critic–it’s definitely, without question, better than it was. So that’s something. Right now, my primary goal is to finish the outline to a reasonable completed-ness by the end of February. That done, I’ll pick it up in April (haha! Probably on April Fool’s Day, if that isn’t 100% appropriate…) and try to hammer out the draft as quickly as I can. Big changes are on the horizon, and I don’t have time to waste.
Back in October, I went on a wild (i.e. I’m too old for this crap) road trip with my good friend, K—. We attended Imaginarium, where we met up with some old friends we hadn’t seen in years, and had a surprisingly good time, despite making absolutely no time for any actual panels. But despite no formal learning scenarios, I learned one very important lesson: it doesn’t matter how many new words you write if you never get around to editing and submitting them.
NOW. Caveat: when I was first starting out, writing new words regularly WAS the hard part. But I’m long, long, long beyond that now. I looked back on this year, and I wrote over 150,000 new words. I’m not sure this is a stand-out year, either. I know I’ve had years where I wrote more. FINISHING a rough draft is not all that hard for me now. EDITING AND SUBMITTING, however, are. It’s my white whale. I have dozens of stories and novellas I still think about on a day-to-day basis that are languishing as rough drafts. I love them, but I’m scared of them. I’m scared of the work they’ll take to be worthy of submitting. I’m scared that I don’t have the skill set necessary to fix them. I’m scared I’ll make them worse rather than better by trying to fix them. I’m scared that I’ll hit a wall and realize I can’t fix them, that they are permanently flawed at the core, and that I’ll have wasted months or years fighting with them.
It all comes down to fear, honestly. Even looking back and seeing the publications I’ve already collected, back when I had less experience and less writing skill, it seems like there was some magical enchantment laying over me during that period that made things just work. But that was me. I did that. And I have to remind myself of that. When I was first starting out, FINISHING a rough draft was an excellent goal. Now, farther down the path, I need to seriously focus on FINISHING final drafts and sending them out into the world. Yes, it’s scary, but it’s the only thing that’s going to shake me up again and get me out there the way I want to be. I’ve got the drafts. Now I just need the chutzpah to finish them.