Some of my friends in the real life (as opposed to this virtual blogsphere) actually know about this blog. But I think only 3 of them ever post comments on this blog. So, I'm always a little surprised sometimes, when they talked to me face to face, text message me on my phone or email me -- about something I posted here. In this blog.
"You mean you read my blog?" I would wonder.
Apparently, they do. Which means there are people out there - people who knows my face, my real name, my phone number, my address, my place of work - these people know I'm trying to write a novel.
This accountability thing is suddenly feeling a little stressful. But, here's some of the things I did this week that contribute to my writing:
1) There might be something to this 'Fess Up Friday - I actually managed about 1,800 words. It's not a lot and there are many awkward bits I need to re-write, but I'm leaving that for now. Just trying to get words on the page.
2) This week I spent some time reading Neil Gaiman's blog - which incidentally has some good advice by the man himself on writing. Here's some Gaimanesque Writing Tips:
Neil Gaiman, offering his opinion on actually getting your first draft written:
As for thinking time versus writing time, well, that's up to you. But -- and I wish it were otherwise -- books don't get written by thinking about them, they get written by writing them. And that's when you make discoveries about what you're writing. That's when you get the happy accidents.
So think all you like, but don't mistake the thinking for the writing.
Neil Gaiman's advice, on working on your drafts:
The second draft is where the fun is. In a first draft, you get to explode. The objective (at least for me) is to get it down on paper, somehow. Battle through the laziness and the not-enough-time and the this-is-rubbish and everything else, and just get it written. Whatever it takes. The second draft is where you go and gather together the fragments of the explosion and figure out what it is you did, and make it look like that was what you always meant to do.
So you write it. Then you put it aside. Not for months, but perhaps for a week or so. Even a few days. Do other things. Then set aside some uninterrupted time to read, and pull it out, and pretend you have never read it before -- clear it out of your head, and sit and read it. (I'd suggest you do this on a print-out, so you can scribble on it as you go. )
When you get to the end you should have a much better idea of what it was about than you did when you started. (I knew The Graveyard Book would be about a boy who lived in a graveyard when I started it. I didn't know that it would be about how we make our families, though: that's a theme that made itself apparent while the book was being written.)
And then, on the second and subsequent drafts, you do four things. 1) You fix the things that didn't work as best you can (if you don't like the climactic Rock City scene in American Gods, trust me, the first draft was so much worse). 2) You reinforce the themes, whether they were there from the beginning or whether they grew like Topsy on the way. You take out the stuff that undercuts those themes. 3) You worry about the title. 4) At some point in the revision process you will probably need to remind yourself that you could keep polishing it infinitely, that perfection is not an attribute of humankind, and really, shouldn't you get on with the next thing now?
Sometimes I think I rather spend time planning a novel than writing it. It reminds me of Geoff Dyer's Out of Sheer Rage, a book where he writes about how he procrastinated on the task of writing a book on D.H. Lawrence.
Procrastination may be a sign of fear - you forestall the conclusion - so you never need to find out how you might have fallen short.
Like Gaiman says, "books don't get written by thinking about them, they get written by writing them". I have never had problem charging into something without a definite plan. So, why stop now?
Excuse me while I go write something.