Racing For WordsMay 26, 2011
Ahhh. I've had five days off with one more to go, and while to some that means long hours of leisure and relaxation, right now to me that means writing as fast as I can. I've got this project stuck in my craw, and I can't let it go. I'm trying to ride it while I can (and, apparently, mix every metaphor available). This week has reminded me of a few things:
When writing 20 pages a day (5000 words-ish), by nightfall the English I don't speak it so good. It's as if I use up all my thoughtful words and I'm only left with Huh? and Wha? None in Chez Hehu stand in awe of my rapier wit and mastery of our mother tongue, that's all I'm saying.
When writing quickly, there are hundreds and hundreds of typewritten words scrolling across the screen in front of you that you KNOW will die by the fiery red-pen of death. They're awful words. Terrible. Possibly the worst words ever linked together on a page (I like to compete in all things, including mind-numbing prose. Mine is the most numbing!). So you get that terror that we all get (often), the fear that says YOU SUCK SO MUCH YOU SHOULD PROBABLY GET A DAY JOB. Wait, you have a day job. YOU SHOULD PROBABLY GET ANOTHER ONE, TO BOOT, AND QUIT THIS CRAP. You see one terrible idea after another splat on the page in front of you, and right when you're about to quit FOREVER, you realize that the thought that was so dreadful, isn't, really. It's kind of okay. Later, you figure out that part was pretty good, actually. It's a good thing you were writing quickly because it was only a fluke you typed it in the first place.
This leads me to the Most Difficult Thing About First Drafts: You never know which parts are good and which are terrible when you are writing them. Ever. You can't tell. There is no way to figure that out, so you just have to keep writing. The parts you thought were genius? They'll be precious and over-wrought. The parts you thought were flat and stupid? They'll end up containing the entire THEME of your novel. The parts that were meh? Some were, and some weren't.
You just gotta keep going. And the faster you go, it feels to me, the more exciting it is. It's kind of like driving. If you drive like you're racing (which I don't--I own a station wagon, but I think this is true), you have to hold on tight and be ready for anything. You might have to swerve, and fast. On the other hand, if you're going fifteen down a country road, you might have to dodge a bunny or two, but you can just keep one hand on the wheel.
And hey, to celebrate books, I have one to give away--I already gave away my galley copy of Catherine Friend's Sheepish: Two Women, Fifty Sheep, and Enough Wool to Save the Planet, but her publisher has graciously agreed to send a copy of the real, finished book to one random commenter (I can't bear to give up my own copy: I am a BLURB on the back, along with Garrison Keillor and Novella Carpenter!).
Leave a comment, enter to win! Easy-peasy. (I'll draw a winner on Sunday.)
And scrappy, ratty, skinny, grumpy ole Digit says hello. And now he will attack.