Working my way through the first draft of a novel has been very much like walking a tightrope without a net.
Word count as of Wednesday night, 9:57 MST: 43,610
It's been quite an education so far and something about the process has shifted. I wrote the first first chapter of The Foundling Wheel (that's not a typo -- I've written a new first chapter) between Christmas and New Year's Eve of 2007. At the time, I was embarking on a brand new story with close to a dozen other writers who were starting their own stories. To be truthful, getting through the first hundred pages wasn't all that difficult. Over time, the words slowed and then they stopped coming at all.
I didn't do much, if any writing at all between March and June. What I'd been doing to that point wasn't working anymore. I did a lot of thinking and mapped some things out visually, hoping I could see what the structure looked like and where I needed to go. Slowly, I got moving again.
In July, I went to a retreat for a week and I returned inspired and reinvigorated. I've written six more chapters since July, but something has changed in the writing. When it flows, it really flows, but I have the almost visceral sensation of vertigo. When I wrote the first few chapters it felt very concretely like I was writing. I was posting the chapters as I wrote them, so although I was writing quickly, I was editing as I wrote. I'm not doing that now. In fact, I've got unnamed characters and other unknowns denoted by a "***" so I can go back and fix them later. Sometimes I feel more like I'm typing a story and not writing one. The second pass on these new chapters will require much more extensive rewriting than the first ten or eleven and those changes will undoubtedly set off a domino effect of cuts and major rewrites to the earlier chapters as well.
Oddly, the biggest change when I write is that my anxiety is gone. Despite the fact that the writing is much less careful and I still have plenty of questions about how this story will move forward, I'm not nearly as nervous, self-conscious and worried about it as I was, even though I truly feel like I'm moving forward blindfolded at times. I've paid lip service to my goal of finishing a first draft from the beginning and it's always been my goal, but for I long time I said it more in the spirit of "fake it 'til you make it" than out of any real confidence I could do it.
I can do it. I can't explain why I suddenly know it, but I do. It's kind of exhilarating.
It seems like it's been a long time since my last post. Work has been busy, I've been getting a decent amount of writing done, I've been reading quite a bit and frankly, the DNC and the RNC have been a huge distraction.
My list of August reads will be up shortly. Other things that have my attention are this season of Mad Men and the upcoming new season of House. Yesterday, Scott and I went to see the new Woody Allen movie, Vicky Cristina Barcelona and I loved it.
What's keeping you busy this week?