Revising/Why I’ve Been Gone/Update

Hi everyone!

Ah, I’ve missed this.

Sheesh, it’s been two whole months since I’ve said anything over here. Not okay. Not okay at all. Do I have an excuse? I mean, yeah. I always have excuses. Are they valid? Meh…

Why have I not been posting? Well, (excuse #1) the end of the semester was crazy. Lots of essays and tests and just general torture but I made it through! YAY summertimeeee and the livin is easy. (Ha. If only.)

Then the day after my last final (excuse #2) I jumped on a plane and headed to good old Chicago. Caught up with friends, celebrated my brother getting engaged, celebrated Mother’s Day, my brother’s birthday, my mom’s birthday, and my best friend graduating from college. Lots of celebrating. But it was great.

Okay yada yada yada that’s all fun and good but I’m not on here to prattle about my life and all it entails. I’m here to share my writing journey. And, well (excuse #3) that’s been going pretty horribly. I know I’m keeping this blunt, but I want to share all aspects of this (the good and the bad). So, here we go.

As most of you know, I’ve been working on revisions for my WIP. And those have been a lot more challenging than I thought they would be. Really, the aspect that I’ve been struggling with the most is figuring out where I need to start my story, but I didn’t realize that this was the real problem until very recently. That, above all else, has made me want to punch a wall and cry for days.

I don’t know why I thought revisions would be a breeze, but I learned my lesson. And learned it. And learned it again. And again. Essentially, my “revision process” has gone like this:

  • Thought dump ideas and start to write.
  • Write 40,000 words of new draft only to realize none of it works.
  • Get a meticulous plan in place for revision.
  • Scour through first draft to find issues with plot, character, and setting.
  • Realize issues and dream up the perfect book.
  • Realize I have no idea what my perfect book is, realize I have a character driven story when I need a plot driven one, realize I don’t even know what my plot truly is, realize I want to rip my hair out and stab my eyes out with scissors.
  • Breathe. Realize this draft may not be what I thought it was. Realize my plan for my rewrite is also not what I thought it was. Go back to square one. Outline the hell out of this story.
  • Still have no idea what I want.
  • Remind myself that I am a pantser.
  • Have panic moment about not finishing revisions in the amount of time I thought I would be able to.
  • Yell at my audio notes for a good while until ideas start taking shape.
  • Take a break to let things simmer.
  • Write. One page.
  • Keep on writing until things start to click into place.
  • Have another panic moment when things begin to fall apart again.
  • Stick Post-Its all over the wall with every plot point and idea I’ve ever had.
  • See the real story taking form.
  • Take another break to let things simmer again.
  • Begin to write finally knowing where I need to start.
  • Cry tears of joy and relief.

So, that’s where I’m at right now. As you can clearly see, that means I’m a complete mess and all over the place. But, I’m finally confident in my starting point. I’m finally able to see what I need to include in this draft and what needs to be saved for future books in my series.

I can get more into the real details of all this (false starts, letting things simmer, etc.) in future posts, but I wanted to give you all a quick(ish) overview of what I’ve been struggling with the past couple months. I’m not entirely sure why I didn’t document this while it was happening, but I think it’s because I was so stressed (with no end in sight) that talking about how nothing was working out would have just stressed me out more. But now I have a light at the end of the tunnel and I’m feeling much better about everything. Phew

Thank you all so much for reading this rambly update. I hope you’re doing well in your own writing journey 🙂 And if you’re not, hopefully, you were able to find some comfort knowing you are not alone. Clearly.

See you next week! (I promise!)

Now what?

Hai!

So, I wrote a draft…um…what now?

This is going to be a catch-up post. This means this one is going to be a bit long. I really want to start writing about things that I’m dealing with right now, but first I gotta recap what has already happened.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to hold it against you if you don’t care about all of this recapping, but future me will care about all this. And future me is a demanding bitch.

ANYWHO

Once I finished my first draft I wanted to jump into revising immediately. Keep in mind, I finished my first draft around 3 am––only a few measly hours away from my full day of classes. Did I care? Nuh uh. I started rereading right away.

Ah. Mistake.

As I wrote the first draft I came to realize that I would need to revise quite a bit, but reading it back…well let’s just say the anxiety set in. And it stayed.

Don’t get me wrong, I like my first draft. I actually really like it. Surprising, I know. I mean it’s riddled with errors and lacks many of the aspects of “craft” (does anyone else hate that word? I feel so pretentious when I use it) but it’s really not half bad. Still not good, but not terrible!

The anxiety came because I realized that the story I had wanted to tell was no longer the story I needed to tell. Basically, through writing my first draft I realized I needed to200 create a new storyline for my characters.

Do you get my anxiety? All that work, all that crying, all that self-doubt, all that hand cramping…and I’m changing everything? WHAT IS LIFE?!

This is when I realized I had to take a step back. I was too emotionally attached, too invested in the story I had written––the story that no longer fit these characters I had come to really know and the world they were a product of.

So, that’s what I’ve been doing. I’ve been taking a big step back. And it was really scary to do that at first, but now I really feel fine. Now, I don’t think this has anything to do with me being super disciplined (I’m not) or patient (I’m really not). Honestly, I think what it all boiled down to was the fact that I had others read my first draft while I played the “let things simmer game.”

Basically, I was able to release the death grip I had on my novel because I knew it wasn’t just going to sit on my computer for a month. It was going to be read, and I was going to get feedback from my most trusted individuals. So, things were moving forward, even if I wasn’t really doing anything.

Flash forward to last week. My mom finished reading my book. And she loved it! Big surprise, right? She’s my mother, she kind of has to love it. But, in truth, I wasn’t really looking for praise or even really constructive criticism.

But isn’t that why I sent it out for feedback? I mean yes, but remember, I was pretty confident I was going to need to change almost everything I had originally planned and written for book one, so while I appreciated those things, they didn’t really benefit me.

So, what was the point?

Essentially, I just wanted someone to understand my world so I could throw at them all the things I think I needed to change. Reading my book before I talked with them would 1. allow them to understand what the hell I was talking about (I write high fantasy…you ever try to explain a fantasy world to someone who isn’t familiar with it? Yeah, you feel my pain.) and 2. give them the capability to really tell me if they thought these changes would benefit my book.

I’m still waiting on my sister to finish, but my mom and I had a long talk a few days ago about all the things I was thinking about, all of the new ideas that had formed in my mind while I was letting the draft cool on my computer.

And it was SO HELPFUL.

I can’t even tell you how much I got out of our conversation. Just being able to bounce ideas off of someone who now really knows my world was just…ah priceless.

So, what am I doing now?

Well, as I said, I’m still waiting for my sister to finish so I can talk to her about the changes I want to make, but my waiting days are over. Over I tell you! I need to start revising.

Now, instead of feeling stressed about how thoroughly I’m going to have to gut my first draft, I’m excited! Really excited. Because now I know that these changes are for the best, and when I’m through with them I’ll have a draft one step closer to the story I want to tell. YAY.

Oh boy. Did I tell you it was going to be a long one or did I tell you it was going to be a long one?

Thank you for sticking through that, I appreciate it. Also, sorry if tenses got weird in there, it’s hard for me to talk in past tense for the recap while I’m also presently feeling some of these things…you catch my drift?anchorman-yes-jumping

But, now we’re all caught up! Yip yip.

So, I really have no plan as to what I’m going to be talking about next…I guess we’ll both just have to see what challenges I face as I revise! Goody.

Thanks for reading!

–Katie

 

Finishing the First Draft

Okay, so I’m a little late with starting this blog because I  finished my first draft about three weeks ago. BUT, that doesn’t mean I don’t want to talk about the experience…because oh. my god. What an experience it was.

For a really long time, I thought I hated writing first drafts. Namely, because I could never actually finish one. And I won’t lie, the beginning of my current WIP took forever to complete. But, after struggling with getting words onto the page for a long, long time I finally took the advice I had heard so many times over the years.

And that advice was to let your first draft basically be a pile of crap. For a while, I had thought I was following this advice, but I wasn’t. I wasn’t really letting myself write absolute shit. I know this because once I finally did (basically, when I finally took my inner editor and shoved her away in a drawer), I was able to bust out insane word counts on the daily (I’m talking anywhere from 5-15k). And finally finish my book.

And it felt so effing good. I cried, I cheered, I really just felt like the most amazing person to ever grace this world. And in truth, I didn’t really care that I had most likely written a draft that was terrible.

Ultimately upon completion, I realized that I actually kind of love writing first drafts. As long as I can find the right mindset, the mindset that basically says, “I don’t give any shits if this sucks”, I think the experience of writing a first draft is pretty amazing.

For me, it felt like I had been liberated, kind of a weird way to put it, but that’s honestly how I felt. I had finally put this story that had been in my head for years onto the page. It existed. FINALLY. And sure it’s going to need some major work, but for now? Who cares?! I wrote a book!

Now, going into revisions…my feelings changed quite a bit. But, we’ll get into all that in my posts to come.

Stay tuned!