Letters from the Battlefield, Part V

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This one’s long, and represents a lot of the flutter that goes on in my head while trying to write. My stats this week are all screwed up thanks to stuff explained in the Letter, so I’ll just forego them and let you read what’s been up… :)

    Tuesday:

  • Suffering from the sleepies. Writing very slowly (to my perception). Can’t tell if I’m writing slowly because I’ve screwed up (always a tell-tale sign: the less I want to write, the more likely it is I’ve made a mistake and need to go back to fix it) or if this is just the pace I’m writing at. When you’re used to pounding out 1000-1250 words in an hour pretty easily/regularly, 750 in that same time seems very slow. But at the moment I think I’m more or less doing this right; I’m heading in for a crescendo, and in *theory* the whole book is just going to run like mad from that point on to the end.
  • Must bear in mind that “run like mad” is a relative term and not get frustrated with it remaining at ~750wph.
  • Oh. Need to go back to “sunny scene” and have Jo ask a question that’ll eventually be answered by my Cryptic Revelation a couple weeks ago (the one that gave a whole new shape to an aspect of the Walker Papers universe), just so that particular note isn’t forgotten about through the course of the book.
    Thursday:

  • Took Wednesday mostly off, and spent most of today screwing around until I thought, ok, maybe I’m doing my usual thing where something’s gone wrong, so I don’t want to work on the book. If that was the case, then that’s generally a subconscious Notification To Myself that I need to go back and fix things, so I printed the book out to read it.

    The other possibility–which is also solved by printing it out and reading it–was that I’d just lost touch with the book, because I haven’t written much worth mentioning for the better part of two weeks.

    Know how I said I’d already polished and re-worked the first chapter more than I was accustomed to? During my read-and-revise pass I did a bunch more detail work. This is not like me, not at all. It must’ve been very bad to begin with. Oi. But the good news is I think I’d just lost touch. It’s possible that no, it’s screwed up, and I’m still too close to tell, but I thik the Crisis Of Faith has been resolved.

    This is actually part of why I like to write fast: it helps me feel like I’ve got one cohesive unit instead of, well, not. In a really ideal world I would spend six weeks writing any given book with no interruptions at all, but, well, the world doesn’t really work that way, does it. :)

    Friday

  • Had big dreams for today. Was gonna leap out of bed early and write a bunch before 9am, making myself feel like a superhero who could do AAAAAAANYTHING and therefore have a really high wordcount day.

    Staggered out of bed at 9:06 and have gotten to the writing computer now, at 12:53pm. Oops. :) I *was* working; yesterday’s Crisis Of Faith had to be dealt with, as I hadn’t read the whole manuscript yet, but still. Not exactly getting words onto the page, is it?

  • End of the day: got 3700 words (a chapter) written despite the late start. Go me. :)
    Saturday:

  • Kinda wondering if I’m pouring on the emotional angst a little too much in this book. Beta readers will have to tell me, I guess. I’m sure enjoying writing it, anyway. Mah heart, mah heart. :)
  • Didn’t get out of the house yesterday. Noticing a not-unusual falling off of exercise. This happens a lot when I get into really writing. :p Gotta change that.
  • Pushing 55K now (about 350 words to reach it), and I’m starting to go “agh, not enough story to fill another 220 pages”. The rest of the book takes place over 12, maybe 15 hours. Truth is, there’s enough story, because I’m about to charge into a Main Event that will start the non-stop action for the rest of the book, but this always happens. Panic, panic!
  • Jo’s convinced something’s going to happen, and she’s right. I might have to rewrite stuff so she’s not so certain of it, so when it comes it’s a surprise to the readers. Or maybe it’ll just be the payoff they’re looking for after half a book’s anticipation. It’s hard to know!
  • Another 250 words and I can have lunch. o.o
  • …I’ve been reading a bunch of bits and pieces of the first three (point five) Walker Papers books today while I’ve been working. Research, more or less. Trying to remember what’s been said and how. But what I’m discovering, is that these are, um, kind of good. Like, I’d read them happily, if I hadn’t written them. Huh. :)
    Sunday:

  • Frankly, if I get anything done today, it’ll be a miracle. I am waiting without much in the way of patience to watch the season finale of Doctor Who, which a livejournal friend’s un-cut non-spoilery comment (except of course to me) was “Catie called it”. (I knew I shouldn’t have checked LJ before watching the show!) Anyway, there’s one plot point in specific to which I believe she must be referring, and I will be SO INCREDIBLY FULL OF SQUEE if I’m right.

    Needless to say, I don’t give much of a crap about writing right now, and I SO VERY MUCH want to watch tv. And I’ll probably have to watch it twice. In a row. O.O

    I had better get to work. :)

  • Oh! I broke 55K yesterday. Halfway through the book! In fact, I’ve only got about 3800 words to reach 60K, and that’s right around the length of a chapter. I’m gonna try to reach it today. I’m not going to make 300 pages by tomorrow, obviously (bahahaha. maybe by Thursday), but if I literally don’t miss a single day of writing from today through the 21st, I should finish the rough draft on the 21st, and get on the plane to ComicCon with a relatively clear conscience.

    *snort* Don’t take bets on that one, ok?

  • Doctor Who gave me heart palpitations. I was right about the thing I wanted to squee over, and all is well.

    Except that while avoiding work on the book, I determined that no, really, the reason I was avoiding it was because I have, in fact, screwed it up, and need to go back and fix it.

    I now have two pages of semi-legible notes scrawled all over my printout. I know where I screwed up. The story presented an easier option than the synopsis did, and I took the easier option.

    I should know better by now, except I can never tell these things in the heat of writing. It would work. It *could* work. but I would not be satisfied by it, and if I’m in a position of being dissatisfied with the book, I can’t keep writing. I have to make it better.

    I hate this part. I hate that every time this happens, I print it out, think, “No, well, okay, well, no, it’s okay, that’ll work,” and then spend another thirty-six hours not progressing, or writing stuff that’s going to have to be revised to make it work (or worse, thrown out) before I come to terms with actually having to *fix* stuff. It’d be much more efficient to just figure it out in the first place.

    OTOH, I’m a lot faster about it than I used to be. I rarely lose more than three or four days for the whole “can’t write, re-read, it’s ok, no it’s not, must revise” process these days, and I used to lose…oh, weeks, months, years. 72 hours really isn’t a bad turn-around. It’s just, you know. REALLY FRUSTRATING!

    So, y’know. Technically? Halfway through the book. Really? Who knows. However, when I’m done fixing things and have the story mashed around the way it ought to be, I figure I’ll be pretty close to 75K, so that’s got to count for something. Right?

    Monday:

  • Officially beginning Draft Three today. This means copying all the 2nd draft files into a new directory and starting revisions with chapter one, page one. The first eleven chapters will be comparatively unchanged, so my wordcount for the book will stay around 39K. From 12 on, well. That’s what the notes are for. Many of the scenes will remain, hopefully more or less unchanged, but they’ll end up coming a lot later in the book than they currently do.
  • Somebody just asked me if this part was easier or harder than first drafts. It’s harder. The reason it’s harder is because I’ve got the original shape of the book in my head already, and I’ve got to change it to the new, better shape. When the words are coming properly, first drafts are *much* easier than revisions. But as several zillion writers have said, frequently the real work of writing is in *rewriting*, and you can’t fix a blank page. So. Off to the battlefield with me.
  • End of day: indeed, I’m right at 39K still, 39.2 to be exact. Chapter 12 is halfway rewritten. I haven’t looked at its second half yet, to figure out what needs to be done; right now I’ve got one more scene to add, and then I think/hope most of what’s left can be kept.

    Man, I hate this part.

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6 comments to Letters from the Battlefield, Part V

  • Thanks for yoru continuing updates. I look forward to the latest report from the battlefield. I find them really informative about the writing process for a professional writer and gives me knowledge of what to expect.

    Keep your head up! You’re almost there! :)

  • Sort of takes away the glamor and just makes it look like work, doesn’t it? I’m glad they’re helpful to someone!

  • I know about the Doctor Who thing, I was distraught waiting for the final episode, but then let out a big sigh of relief. But I wish they had left his companion the way she was, I was quite enjoying her banter. Ah well, good writing though, Russell Davies outdid himself on that one.
    Anyway I’m at the point you are in writing, 60,000 and in a slumpy bit. How do you push yourself out of this?

  • Um. You just have to sit down and keep going. That’s not very helpful, is it? I do mind tricks on myself: “All you have to do is write 100 words.” And then usually, y’know, I get 112 words, and well that’s PRACTICALLY 125, might as well go to 125, and then oop, that was 137, might as well go to 150, etc. That kind of thing helps.

    Really, though, sometimes it’s just a slog, and the only way to get through it is to grind your teeth and keep writing. Eventually it lightens up and things get easier again. For me, as I’ve said here, if I’m having trouble moving forward it almost always means I’ve messed up somewhere earlier, and need to fix it. Once I do that, I can go forward again. Maybe look at what you’ve done and see if there’s anything that stands out as a point that needs work? Other than that…well, keep writing. :)

    -Catie

  • “I know about the Doctor Who thing, I was distraught waiting for the final episode, but then let out a big sigh of relief.”

    *presses hands over ears* La la la la la la I can’t hear you la la la la la!

    I’m very jealous of the people who got to see the end four weeks before I will. *pouts*

  • Funny, I find it much easier to rewrite. It’s already down on the page. It’s just a matter of fiddling and moving and tweaking. But writing that first draft — that’s the killer for me. I tend to write fairly polished first drafts; that’s one of the reasons I’m so slow. But it does make the rewrite a little easier.

    Anyway, interesting stuff. Thanks for these Battlefield posts, Catie.