Okay, with the exception of a few twitter and Icarus posts I’ve been quiet this week. Tonight I’m just going to talk because I feel like I have to. For those who will subscribe to the “tl;dr” doctrine, don’t worry you won’t miss a thing.
Book progress, how is that going? Well Mike, I’m glad you asked that. It’s going… well it’s going. I hit a point in the book where I finally sat back and said, “yeah, okay, I need an outline to finish this.” So I created a book guide, or began working on a book guide. I told myself I would take one week and just hammer the thing out. The world I’m creating requires a bunch of random knowledge that I can’t simply make up on the fly and have it come out straight.
So I’ve spent all week on it so far and I feel like I’ve accomplished nothing. Zero. The bagel. I’ve discovered a lot of my plot, written it out, interwoven the various plots to make sense together and even developed an entire 4th Class Wing of cadets. Yet, despite this, words were not being written on the book itself and I feel like I haven’t made a single bit of progress. Has anyone else had this problem? I tell myself that once this is done, I can push forward much easier and even write out of order if need be. It’s true, I can.
The Book Guide is more than just an outline though, it contains my Setting and Character guides too, from descriptions of characters to cadet life. I need these things, which are much like encyclopedia entries, so I don’t lose my way. What have we learned? Do this BEFORE you start your book. I won’t make this mistake again. I am not a discovery writer and never was. I’m sure this is why I have roughly 6 or 7 unfinished manuscripts totalling over 1000 pages on my hard drive. Ladies and gentlemen, I write a lot. Not a few words a day, thousands of words a day. I have the writing work ethic that my father wished I had in every day life growing up. If I’d had this kind of working drive when I was a teenager I might have mowed the lawn, weeded the garden, powerwashed the porch AND made dinner every day. But no, it is only this that I am passionate about.
So what’s eating me? The lack of progress yes, but it’s also the fact that this discipline I am so proud of wavered this entire week. I played video games and goofed around on the internet. I said to myself, “self, this outlining business doesn’t require your whole brain, you can do this AND goof off.” Wrong. If I want this to be my job, then I need to treat it like it’s one.
Starting tomorrow (can’t tonight, my eyes are officially bloodshot and so full of sinus pressure I can’t see very well) I’m kicking games to the curb and writing from the time I finish work until it’s time to power down the laptop.
Note: If you are sensitive to bad language, stop reading here.
Okay. As my Creative Writing Professor in Grad School, Beth Goldner, said: “If you want to be a writer, then fucking write.” I’ve never forgotten Beth, not the fire she had when disciplining me for my lack of motivation, not the way she stood on her desk and told us that being ‘busy’ wasn’t an excuse and certainly not the way she stole my goddamn pens. If I ever have to point to one moment when I turned my life around, it was in Beth’s class. I learned one valuable lesson: Writing is not magic. It comes from working. You sit your ass in the chair and type. It took me years to understand this. I wish I’d learned it sooner.
So, thanks Beth. Wherever you are, you’re my personal hero.