How does it feel to achieve a most desired milestone? Awesome!
But how many times we can boast about achieving one? Not as many as we should.
If we could just stick to the writing plan!!!
Nevertheless, I believe writing must be thought in increments, different phases, almost all of them composed by long and arduous stretches of work, that culminate in a finished piece.
First, the idea. Then working out all the most relevant aspects of this idea (plot, subplot, characters...). Research and first draft. Then first/second draft... and all that are needed. Then multiple revisions... and so on... until beta reading... alfa reading... submitting...
At least, that’s how I’ve been working all this stuff in my head. Some milestones to get me properly focused on minor parts that contribute to the major work.
I have finished the second draft of my currently-working-on novel.
Originally named ‘Os Metamorfos’ and a straightforward translation as ‘The Shapeshifters’.
By the time I’ll hit Publish on this post, another milestone has been achieved…
As you may have read in the previous article, and even though it wasn’t what I planned to do, it was a most welcome change.
Building this story is a roller-coaster of emotions. Mainly because, I have been trying to formulate it, without seeming to find the right way to make it work.
I’ve tried some former iterations without any result to show for. 20K and I would abandon the manuscript and would go sulk in a nearby sofa… I’ve tried this approach for three times.
It has been a not so joyous procedure.
What changed? What got me from Idea to Writing things down?
Last year, in 2021, I decided to enroll in a challenge called the 100 day challenge.
It was my second time participating, so I chose to do a writing related project. For one hundred days straight, I would write approximately for one hour, and this time around – because I had enrolled twice before with some mixed media projects – I chose some short quotes from other authors as a starting point, or a theme for each day, and would allow for a short text, in whatever form or genre, to evolve from that.
I wasn’t planning to come back to this story concept but it kind of materialised itself that way.
In my the 100 day challenge I’ve written a few poems, short-stories, snippets of texts, sorts of diary entries and, right about the 47th day of the challenge, I started writing about these characters, and this story, that have been trying to get out of my head, and into the page, without much success.
It’s been years since I first thought about this story for the first time.
In the middle of Impromptuarium this story started to emerge. And right in the middle of itself. The long, dull, big bulk of the middle… and I had to work my way to the end. After that, I resumed to the starting point and wrote the beginning. It took me an extra twenty days of this challenge to complete the first big chunk of the work.
The 100 day challenge ended for me at 120 days straight of writing, one hour a day, of whatever fit my fancy. Which helped me getting the writing flow going. And I ended up with a very unpolished first draft (can I call it a first draft?)
After finishing this first round, I got a bit lost. I let it stew for a few months without looking at it, in pains that it would show me another big chunk of wasted time.
In the meantime, I felt like crap. All of it felt like absolute sh**… and then I started to remind myself of that speech of shitty first drafts and all (from a very wise writer called Anne Lamott). I couldn’t fix what didn’t exist, but I could work with a shitty first draft.
And then came September… and October… I felt November approaching and knew I should give this story a go… again.
It was my tenth year on NaNoWriMo and I couldn’t forget that I had a pretty successful run in 2020, producing another novel (which, until today, I haven’t reviewed… yet).
And, it was NaNoWriMo that got me going into a second rewrite.
Mind the gap…
I finished November with a little bit more than the 50k needed to complete this challenge, but Oh, I definitely went through a hard time.
The story was born crooked, missing big chunks of information. In a very confusing manner by being thought out from the middle to the end, to the beginning, to the middle again.
I got really confused with myself.
I had a huge gap somewhere in there, that I fondly named ‘mind the gap’ in tribute to my love of London and its tube. And was just trying to smooth out a part that was driving me crazy.
November comes to an end…
The end of November approached and I was not even near finished my second draft.
So, I put it on a new goal. I would finish my second draft until the end of 2021. How’s that saying ‘man plans, god laughs’, or something like that.
December came, and went, and ‘The Shapeshifters’ kept being slowly written. Then I got kind of lazy… or had an impostor’s syndrome attack.
Dealing with the imposter in me…
I started feeling a huge amount of fears, and doubts, regarding the quality of this story, and a lot of shame associated with the high fantasy concept that I BELIEVED I SHOULD be writing.
I had to convince myself, all over again, that I didn’t need to come up with some high whatever concept, difficult to craft, boring, unsellable, gender and cultural dominated, and just NOT ME, to finish this story. And let all that nonsense go.
All I care about is giving it all I have, do my best, and keep crafting stories.
I had to remind myself, again and again, that I know my soft spots and strengths in my writing. That I could finish the draft and then make it better. I ended up with 79341 words on this draft.
As for making it better, I will leave it to the following efforts to prove or disprove me. But I am carving the will to start my third draft, to put in the work I think it needs, and make it one of my stories, full of those nuggets that turn a simple tale in something to think about.
Still working on it…
I am not near completion with this story but I am focused and willing to give it my best… and to edit like a maniac, cutting all darlings out of there.
Meanwhile, this isn’t my only ongoing project, so I’m trying to be organised here, and juggle a lot of projects all around… including all of life’s projects.
But, about these other writing projects, I will tell you all about it in another post.
Hope to see you soon here at writer.sarafarinha.com and please let me know…
How are your writing projects going? Do you find it hard to finish a second draft? And if you use NaNoWriMo as an added motivation to write your stories?
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Bye and see you soon.