Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Hey, Who Stole My Gatorade?

My original intent for this blog was to talk about writing. Every once in a while I have to remind myself of that and get back to the point.

Creating my first novel took all of about nine months. The second, right at eleven. The third. fourteen months. (then another year and a half doing a variety of rewrites for a variety of different people, that thus far still have not produced any significant news, but have vastly improved the product)

Now for my latest novel I seem to be on pace for about eighteen months. Actually for my two novels since for some reason I am glutton for punishment and have decided to write two simultaneous. But hey, they are so different it has been fun thus far.

So what gives? The more you practice the better you should get. Right? And the better you are the easier it is to do, thus making the entire process quicker. Right? Not for me.

Why? There are multiple factors such as when I penned my fort I only had one infant child and now I have two rambunctious boys who demand much more of my time. But they along with other outside factors aren't the real reason.

So what is? Don't y'all like it when I bet questions in your head?

Ready for the Million Dollar Answer?

I've become picky about what I put down on the page. Or at least what I allow to linger there on the page. used to be stumbled along not caring so much how I got to the finish line as long as I broke that tape.

Now I have expectations. At the end of the marathon it isn't enough to say, Wow look at me I finished. No I want to throw my hand in the air and as my chest breaks that tape at the end. I want the announcer(follow along with me that would be literary agents in my metaphor) to shout what a marvelous feat, just look at that time) I want someone to slip a medal around my neck. (an editor for those metaphorically challenged) It doesn't have to be gold, silver or bronze will do at this point, and say No there is a professional. A true literary athlete worthy of publication.

So these days I don't simply slip on the Nike's and go out jogging. I lace up the strings a bit tighter. get out the stop watch, and RUN. Yeah it's hard work most days and I shed far more sweat than I used to, but I still believe my best race has yet to be run.

So fellow writers? Has your pace slowed as well, or I am just out of shape? And that picture is not of me. It's some other tall hairy guy.


Tena said...

"Now I have expectations."

Dammit, that says it all.

Loved your post and that we are both addressing the same topic at the same moment.

Today I'm trying to just get down the bones of a new chapter and man, it's really butt ugly. It's hard when you're used to refining but it takes for freaking ever. This literary speed dating is harder than I thought. Maybe I can't be a sprinter? I am built for comfort and not speed? Not that writing is staying in one's comfort zone. I just can't seem to get out of my own way today. Waaa!

alternatefish said...

My first few novels took mere months. Then when I was thirteen I wrote a "novel" (more of a novella, really) in 3 days. It's been downhill from there. I wrote my next novel over the course of the next two years. Now I'm 21 and I haven't finished anything since. (insert useless whining about college admissions and college courses.) I think the same thing's happened to me as to you; my inner perfectionist is rearing it's ugly, coiffeured head.

But I'm finishing this current damn novel by August 31st. It's going to happen, even if the last 3rd is complete tripe.

Tena said...

"even if the last 3rd is complete tripe."

Well, that makes two of us.

Alternatefish, why do you have a particular deadline? Just to get you off the pot?

Brooke said...

I am only on my first but I find that I do my best in the car (good for me, bad for other drivers in general). I can't sit down in front of a computer and create good fiction, I do it in the car. I usually emerge from a drive with fistfuls of lines and notes written on old receipts.

A notebook? Ok, point taken!

alternatefish said...

I'm going abroad for the Fall semester, and I want to have the draft finished before then. I'm thinking I'll revise when I get back. And while I'm in England, I'm going to start the novel that is set in England.

All these grand plans...now if only I could follow through.

Tena said...

alternatefish said...
I'm going abroad for the Fall semester,

Fantastic!!! Take tons of notes for your next novel. I'll bet being in England will really inspire you.

alex keto said...

Flip this discussion to the agent point of view.

Hot sweaty person comes rushing in out of breath shouting "Look Ma! I've finished the book, I've finished the book. Ain't you proud of me?"
Not really because if the book is complete dreck that means it is unsaleable.

By comparison, the guy who wrote Cold Mountain spent four years on it.

Which would you take as an agent given that you don't particularly know or care how long it took write? Your experience begins the day the manuscript lands on your desk.

So expectations, good writing, crafted plots, superb characterizations, quality -- however you want to term it -- is the big deal. Assuming it can be done.

The only time I think this isn't true is when it gets extreme. I met a 70 year old guy who proudly announced he had spent 10 years on his first novel. All I can say is it better not have been a series, cause that guy wasn't going to produce another before croaking. And the agents knew that.

Alicia said...

I know how hard it is to chase around 2 little kids.
My oldest turned 6 today and I also have a 3-1/2 year old daughter...
Life is busy.

Katrina said...

Those damn rewrites! I find myself writing a chapter in a couple days and then spend weeks rewriting that chapter. Finally manage to move on to the next chapter--get that written--spend weeks rewriting it plus the chapter before. I too have become picky and it slows the process. Frustrating but I think a necessary evil to produce a better product.

Jenster said...

My husband has given me a bit of a deadline for my book. I have no agent, no editor, so he's filling in until I find a real professional.

I try hard just to write and get it on paper and then go back and polish it. It's difficult, however, just to leave a mess with the intention of coming back.

Tee said...

I find that my biggest stumbling block is self editing. When you edit yourself every sentence you type, you can't get anywhere. Sometimes you just need to write, write, write and THEN go back to it for editing. (Easier said than done.)

Chunks said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog. I hope you don't mind but I read several posts and have added you in my favorites. You are a good writer! I'll be back!

angel, jr. said...

Now you've inspired me to also write. I don't think it matters what you write about (so you aren't being girly), the point is you are writing!

Dawn said...

I think Alex Keto hit on a very relevent point - the agent or publisher doesn't give a toss how long it took. To them, your story has no life until it arrives on their desk.

However - and ain't there always one - if you want to be a productive writer then you do have to "keep it moving".

You write well and I'm sure you're going to make it, Travis. I want to say, I knew that big hairy romance writer before he was published!

Richard said...

At least you are at the point where you actually write. I still feel terribly self conscious trying to pen words to paper. I have no problem penning small fragments and ideas at 2 A.M., but I am find it more difficult to do as a habit. So, aside from blogging, commenting, and e-mailing, I don't do a whole lot of writing.

I think concern about quality can be an issue. Certainly it is with me, before I even get a sentence down, my mind is already editing and then I worry about the where I am going. So I end up doing squat.

Of course, you might also be slowing down because of experience. Remember the first birdhouse, or similar type craft you tried as a kid? There were no plans, no forethought. You just went and did it. Hacked something together and were satisfied. As your skill improved, you realized that you couldn't just through something together and so ended up planning, measuring, accurately cutting, etc - which slowed you down.

The Duck said...

Well, I don't consider myself a writer at all, but here's wishing you luck on breaking the proverbial tape with your proverbial chest and all that. Not sure how you found my little corner of the web, but thanks for taking the time to comment.

I like what you've got going here on your blog, and what you're writing about reminds me a bit of the movie Sideways when Paul Giamatti's character has that massive manuscript because he couldn't make the decisions necessary to trim it down. Of course, you're basically discussing the opposite of that problem, but whatever. OK, I'll stop talking about something I don't understand now.

I mostly just wanted to say, "Thanks for stopping by" and I think I accomplished that...

Bluefingers said...

Since this blog directly relates to our phone call, and I am a lazy sloth of a writer anyway, I have to say I agree wholeheartedly. I want to be that big sweaty kid that runs into the 212 area code with an MS in hand saying...LOOOKKKKK!!!!! I EVEN PAINTED A RAINBOW ON IT FOR YOU!!!!!!

But, I started the novel I am currently working on about three times over and finally found a place where it fits into.

Its worth the time, of course it is.

And I agree with all the others on here Trav, you have a great thing going here and I am glad to know the hairy love child of Ben and Jerry Romantic Disgruntled Sock sandal wearin' romance writer.