Monday, September 10, 2007

New Beginnings?

I don't have an SBD post for today because I'm in the middle of a few books and haven't actually finished one. I should just grab one, and read it until the end, but the attention span is distracted by the new and shiny, or if I get to a slower bit of a chapter I swap over. It's not fair, it's wrong, and yet I do it all the time. It's why it takes me so long to finish anything as I live my life this way. I get halfway through most tasks and then am distracted into something else. Usually one of my kids provides the distractions. I often wish I could post-it note the previous thing I was doing on my chest as a reminder "Washing dishes, water still running in sink!" once the child's emergency is finished.

It's also why I'm not the most disciplined writer. Especially as I write on the same computer that I also internet from. I really should buy some old junker laptop and purely write from that where it has no internet access at all. I remember the days when I envied my friend and her brand new Smith Corona word processor, which looked like a monster sized electric typewriter. Because she could type away her stories and have them. Done. There. The bliss. I have an iMac and find distractions it provides so seductive. It usually starts with something simple like a word check on or a fact check that turns into a three hour immersion session on...fucking about. Plain and simple: it's all fucking about. Not literally, but just the supreme way to waste time.

I've recently decided I'm going to scrap the first three chapters of my novel. It's the same novel I started writing three years ago when I had lots more time available. Shorty was just a newborn and slept lots so i would have windows of a couple hours to get a couple pages typed. But that stopped by the time she was eight months old and the morning naps disappeared. Since then it's been one long distraction. I've been trained by motherhood to be easily distracted. I never used to be like this. At least I don't think I was, I think as far as hobbies went I could be fairly involved. So anyways, with Shorty starting pre-school I pulled out the old files and have been re-reading everything. It's been a lot of fun. On reading the first chapter again, I slashed out so much, it was obvious it needed renewal. Why so much description? Who cares about that? My worst habits: present and past tenses mixed together. First person or omniscient, I can't seem to break so it's my editing nightmare.

I still like the story. I still like my characters, and how patient they've been with me all these months. But the first three chapters are hard. They are busy, intricate and overdone. I made the Hero/Heroine's first meeting so convoluted it's no wonder I put the story away for so long. It was intimidating! I'm very thankful I recently read Johanna Lindsey, because she makes first meetings so easy, believable and uncomplicated it made me see: I'm trying too hard.

So I'm keeping a bit ("Kill your darlings" so say the masters), but I'm also untying the knots and freeing up the story flow so it's easier and not so smack, smack, smack with events. I must have been paranoid about having the story be exciting and interesting so just crammed a ton of action into it. Poor readers would've been getting a headache.

I feel good about this. Nervous; always nervous. I don't remember being nervous as a teenager about writing. I thought everything I wrote then was gold, baby! Pure Gold! But I'm far more apprehensive now. Downright cagey. Not as cagey as some *coughBethcough*, but now with a much needed humbleness.

Want to see the old first chapter? It's rather awful, I warn you. It reads more like a character bio than a chapter. I think it's where I was in the writing, getting to know my characters better, so it comes across in the story. It's why I decided it needed to be completely changed; it's not really a chapter. It doesn't lay out anything of the story I want to tell. But for a laugh, go ahead. I started up the old writing blog again just for this purpose. Read it here


Daisy said...

I find that I am easily distracted as well.

Chunks said...

It gets easier as your kids get older. Eventually, nothing they do will distract you. For instance, I can remove the sliver from the finger of one child while the other one blares Eminem and I don't even notice the beat. It gets easier to tune them out when you know they will be leaving you soon! hahah!

Going to check out your writin'!

Paros Shepherd said...

There is a small computer program that pops up reminders to keep on focus if you browse off subject. Maybe you could set it for reading as well. I don't have the link--search Stay on Focus, maybe.

Sylvana said...

You know, it's not a bad idea to write a character bio anyway. When I wrote stories in my youth I would always write bios, and even short side stories to get to know my characters better - give them back stories that didn't necessarily go into the main story, but were there for me and the other characters.

I love hearing about your writing process. Makes me want to write again. But where would I squeeze in the time!