Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Writing on a deadline and feeling pleased as punch

fast typing keyboard writerI've been writing my little fingers off.

The first draft of my NaNoWriMo murder mystery novel was finished in November, but as pleased as I was with it overall, I knew it still needed some serious work. But December was crazy with sales and holidays, and then it was local tax season, and then federal, and somehow months slipped by, and I didn't have a second draft.

Sam got it in his head that I'd promised to have it done by a certain date, and he started reminding me that I needed to finish. He started taking Mikko on longer and longer walks, and finally just shoved me out the door to a coffeeshop down the street every so often. Sometimes I'd cheat and just sit on the back porch swing so I could be close if mothering duty called.

When Mikko goes to his preschool twice a week, I head off for a few hours of writing time, bizarre and a little dull in how little I'm interrupted and how much I can get done. Yes, I've become one of those coffeehouse people, sitting with their laptops plugged into the wall for hours, and the Tully's baristas start my drink as I walk in. I make sure not to glare at any of the cute and noisy little kids who come in, though! (Or the chattering adults, for that matter.)

But I still didn't feel particularly pressured to get the second draft done by a certain time until Sam told me that if I finished by the deadline, I'd win a super-special certificate. And if I didn't — I would never see the certificate. Ever.

Game on, dude.

I copied and pasted huge chunks. I wrote new scenes. I made trouble for myself by having characters pop into scenes I had no intention of them visiting, but I went with it and wrote it all out, nervously eyeing the live page count at the bottom of the Word screen. As I added scenes, the finish line seemed to get farther away instead of closer, and it was all I could do at the last moments to sprint to "The End."

Finally, one minute over my deadline, I finished my second draft.

Sam gave me the certificate anyway. Signed by Agatha Christie.

(I'm wondering if it's a forgery, but I don't want to accuse Sam after he's been so helpful. I'm just trying to decide if I need to send Agatha Christie or Sam thank you cards so they know I appreciate them both.)

Sam has since read the novel for the first time, and he read it with enthusiasm and excitement, which made me feel proud all over, as a mama does. We all want our babies to be exclaimed over and recognized for being the greatest things ever.

He also had lots of improvements to suggest, mostly concerning character development, and unlike with a real baby, I appreciated his input. And, so, it's back to work.

But I don't have a deadline at this point. So hopefully I can keep writing blog posts as well this time around...

(But not if another certificate beckons.)

Photo courtesy Dan Mulligan on stock.xchng

2 comments:

Lisa C said...

Wow, I've always wanted to write a novel. I've been planning to write a fantasy novel, but I don't even know where to start. My writing has been limited to articles, essays, short stories, and poems. But I have this idea in my head that one day it will get written and it will be as popular as Harry Potter or Twilight or whatever...

But dang, I don't know how to write a novel!

Hobo Mama said...

I don't know how to write one, either! It requires so much brain space to keep track of all the threads. I actually wrote about this on my author site, where I was comparing software and finally decided just to write.

A reviewer I quoted there said: "I can’t help but advise you’d be far better off just sitting down and writing, ignoring the confusing disorganized mess you may create — because you CAN — and WILL, if you stick at it — develop a process for sorting things out, making sense of disparate parts and gluing them together into a coherent story. ... It’s never easy, no matter what."

It sounds like you're a prime candidate for NaNoWriMo09! Because it forces you to let go of the perfectionism and fear and just go. Hope to see you there in November.

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