Before I get into this post, I want to thank everyone who has sent me feedback about my speech to NAMI.
I never know how these things are going to go over, and I never know if what I had in my head and my heart when I wrote a thing will translate into something similar in the audience. I am always anxious about being misunderstood, even when I’m speaking on a topic I know a lot about. Yay for anxiety! It’s super effective!
It means so much to me to know that I’m helping people. I’ve heard from a ton of parents who didn’t know their kids were living with anxiety, but after reading (or hearing) my stories about my experiences, they can see that their kids need the help that I didn’t get. All I want to do with my time on this Earth is make things that matter, and use the privilege and success I have to help make other people’s lives better. It’s so wonderful to know that this speech I gave (and the essay it is when it’s written) is making a positive difference in the world.
Okay, on to what this post is about: Writing!
Well, rewriting, specifically.
I’ve been working on the rewrite of my novel, which is currently titled All We Ever Wanted Was Everything. It’s a semi-autobiographical work of fiction, about a twelve year-old, coming of age in 1983. The protagonist is a kid who wants to be a writer, and I have no idea where that inspiration came from.
So every time I finish work, I make a post on my Tumblr thingy with the word count and some thoughts about what I did that session. It’s kind of how I cycle the airlock when I come back inside from the deep space solitude of writing all day. It feels good to write it, and I look forward to it every day. It’s like my reward for doing the work, in a way, and it’s nice to have this little diary of the process that I can look back on, to see my progress in more detail that just a word count. I know that some of you who read my blog want to know what’s going on in my creative life, and what I’m working on, so I thought I’d share some of the recent entries.
Each bolded part, and the words that follow it until the nifty little horizontal line, represents one day’s work.
…and that is a completed first draft of my first novel.
21 pages of rewrites on All We Ever Wanted Was Everything
Mostly going over the first part of the story now, seeing where I was clearing my throat, figuring out how I can smooth it out and lay the foundation that the rest of the story will build upon, and discovering that a lot of it holds up better than I expected it would, a year after I wrote it.
I made a few small cuts, added some stuff here and there and smoothed out a few places where I was clear in my head but not on the page. I can tell that I’m going to have to go over this part again, after I’ve done the real heavy lifting in the later chapters, and I may even wait until it goes to a couple of first readers to hear their feedback on this part, because I’m a little too close to it.
Twenty-one pages doesn’t feel like a lot, but it’s about 10%, which feels like a solid start to the rewriting process.
Rewrote about 4000 words on All We Ever Wanted Was Everything
It works out to just about ten pages, and it overlaps with the twenty-one I already worked on, but I needed to go back and make this as good as it can be, because it’s introducing the reader to the world and the characters.
I feel good about what I wrote today. I felt good enough to print it out and share it with Anne, which I never do. She’s reading it right now.
I’m probably going to go over this again after I get beta reader feedback, but I’m happy enough with where it is now (and it’s helped me focus on bringing out the narrative voice I eventually found over 61000 words) to save it and keep moving forward.
I really love this process. It’s incredibly rewarding and satisfying.
1400ish words (62439 total) on the Rewrite of All We Ever Wanted Was Everything
I worked for about seven hours, and I thought I was making a lot of cuts today, but it turns out that I was adding more than I took away.
I’m going to come back to this section one more time, because it’s not quite there, yet, but it’s closer than it was before I started, and that’s the point of the work right now.
11 pages and about 1000 words on the All We Ever Wanted Was Everything rewrite
I got to the first part of the existing draft that made me go, “Oh this part is awful. What was I thinking?”
It turns out that I was thinking that I needed that part (about half a page) to get from the part that preceded it to the part that followed it, so I cut it and wrote something new to connect them.
There’s a big scene that I’m on the fence about. I stared at it for an hour, starting and stopping and undoing and redoing and finally deciding to just walk away from right now. I’ll come back and do some more work on the second rewrite pass, I think.
I have come to realize that this first rewrite isn’t about getting the book to its final form; this is about getting the manuscript from what I thought it was to what it became, so the tone and pacing all work out in a logical way. It’s about cutting out the things that I thought would lead into stuff later on that never materialized, and adding new stuff in places where I decided I wanted to pay something off.
I have a lot of work ahead of me, but I’m enjoying the process that I’m in right now, even when it feels like I’m spinning my wheels in some mud.
About 10 pages and 1400 new words on the rewrite of All We Ever Wanted Was Everything.
Right now, the manuscript is sitting at 64222 words. At one point today, it was over 65000, so I know that I’m doing a lot of shaping and scraping and cutting and other things that you do with clay but can be applied to writing if you squint.
This is really starting to come together, and I’m making a good deal of progress turning what I thought I was writing when I started into what I figured out I was writing when I finished. And I’m still enjoying the process, which I keep mentioning so I can remember when I inevitably decide that this is all terrible and I never should have started it in the first place.
This is the third day in a row that I’ve wanted to keep working, but I’ve sort of run out of creative focus and energy after five or so hours. That seems like a very short work day, and maybe someday I’ll stop feeling like I’m slacking off when I do what is a full day of work for me.