Hello blog readers. Another Friday, another post. And today, I'm going to talk about giving up. Because that's what I've been wrestling with for the past couple of weeks.
You guys may remember that I've been revising FF (FrostFire, the companion book to Daughter of the Flames) lately. And I've been struggling. The Epic Fall and Evil Virus didn't really help, but they were not the cause of my consternation. In the last day or so I have come to an unavoidable conclusion: I need to give up on this draft. Wait, wait - before you start screaming, let me 'splain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.
(If you got that joke, give yourself a bonus point).
My normal writing process, as documented on my website and all over the internet, goes thusly: Zolah buys a notebook. Zolah scribbles in the notebook. Around once a week Zolah types these scribbled pages into her computer, changing and revising as she goes. When she has reached the end, she prints it all out and leaves it to mature for a couple of weeks, reads it over, revises again and sends it to her editor. She calls this her 'first draft'.
That's the way I've always worked, and because of that, I simply did not realise how VITAL each stage of the process was.
Then I went full-time. I started writing from nine to five or later each day, and I found that my terrible eyesight (which causes me to crane over the page in order to see what I'm writing), and the resulting bad posture while writing by hand were causing me serious neck and back problems. It's one thing to fold yourself into a pretzel for a fifteen minutes during a teabreak, or even an hour in the evening. It's another to sit that way for eight hours a day. I couldn't handle the pain. So I simply cut the notebook stage out. I began writing everything directly onto my laptop. My neck and back thanked me, and I was hitting 12,000 words a week. Awesome, yes?
No. No. No.
When I came to revise my 'finished' first draft, I found to my horror that it was all wrong so very very wrong OMG what HAPPENED HOW WHAT ARGHGGHG! Instead of the fairly polished first draft which I expected to read, I found an incoherant, badly paced, badly written mess. In skipping the initial scribbling and revising stage I had effectively created a manuscript that read like those scribbled notebook pages. Because of course, using the notebook method, what I had been calling my 'first draft' was in fact more like a second or even third draft.
Trying to fix this with my normal polishing and revising process was like rearranging deckchairs on the Titanic. It might take your mind off things and give you an illusion that you're being productive, but in the long run you're still heading for a disaster. And so, after a week of hiding my head under the covers, groaning and baking (holy granola guys, you should SEE my kitchen right now. I've had to borrow cake and biscuit tins from all over the place) I've finally come to the realisation that it is time to give up.
Not on the book. On this draft. I cannot fix it. I can rearrange, revise and polish it until the cows come home, but it still won't be right. I need to scratch at least 70% of this manuscript, get out my trusty notebook and propelling pencil, and start again.
This, as you can probably imagine, is a hella scary position to be in. My deadline on this book is around the tenth of January (since that's when my editor gets back from her extremely well deserved holiday), which leaves me just under two months to write the new version. And those two months include Christmas and New Year, when I will have various committments to family and friends which I just can't toss aside. So you'd think I'd be freaking the heck out right now.
But I'm actually not. The sheer of relief of finally letting go, giving up on what can't be fixed and making a decision about what needs to be done, completely drowns out any sense of panic. I'm not only quietly confident that I can do this; I'm really excited to do this. I'm filled with glee at the thought of getting stuck in and making this book as good as it really deserves to be. I'm well aware that I'm going to be working flat out and that it will be really, really hard, especially at this time of year - but it's also going to be fun.
Anyway, I leave you today with this video from the amazing Jackson Pearce, who not only has profound things to say about giving up, but also manages to BATHE HER CAT (yes, in actual WATER) and survive. If I tried to do this to either of my cats I'd end up needing prosthetic arms for the rest of my life, and probably a breathing tube as well. How does she do it? I suspect that she may be a witch. Or an elf. Or both.
Is there anything that you guys are struggling with lately, that you might need to let go and just give up on? Tell me about it in the comments.
(P.S. I have just ordered a box easel to put my notebook on when I'm writing. Hopefully this will allow me to write by hand without crippling myself. Win!)