I mean this literally and figuratively.
In the literal sense, I’ll be heading off to a writing retreat this weekend. Some friends and I will be staying in a house deep in the woods of northeastern NY. The house used to be a hotel and the woods are (I’m told) dark and deep. It all sounds very atmospheric. I think there’s an equally likely possibility that we’ll:
a. have a great time and get lots of writing done
b. be devoured by sinister forces that dwell beneath moss and stone, never to be heard from again.
Wish us luck!
In the figurative sense, I’ve definitely wandered out of reality and down a winding path with an unknown end. I call this journey Miranda’s First Draft Adventure in which I temporarily disconnect from reality. When I’m feeling my way through a new project for the first time, I tend to go invisible. Or, maybe a better way to put it is that the real world becomes invisible to me.
It might look like I’m cooking dinner or having coffee with a friend or folding laundry, but I’m not. I’m actually working out the way this character might react in a particular situation or considering how to fix a plot hole. I’m not really in a classroom in Queens queuing up the afternoon’s lecture but on a damaged shuttle in another galaxy, trying to imagine how my protagonist will react when he finds out his best friend is a lying liar.
The “here but not here” part of working on a first draft has many advantages. It means I’m always working on my novel, even when I’m doing something else. It means I wake up at 3am with The Solution to a problem or have flashes of deep character insight while waiting for the G train. It makes the book better and is, frankly, an integral part of how I work. It also has disadvantages. I neglect my friends and family. I get scatterbrained at work. I can’t concentrate on other important things in my life. I drift away from the here and now.
This process, though? It appears to be involuntary. I don’t know another way to write a first draft. So, if you’re looking for me, that’s where I’ll be. In the Woods. Literally and figuratively.
See you on the other side.
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Welcome to this writer’s workspace. Here’s what’s happening liiiiiiiiiiiiiive at Miranda’s desk:
What I’m working on: I’m waiting for a few last critiques on the 2nd draft of my archaeological time travel novel, ABSENT. Once they roll in, I’ll begin collating and processing the feedback so I can start revising. In the meantime, though, I’m pressing ahead on my newest writing project (a dark Urban Fantasy set in the Pacific Northwest that I’ll refer to henceforth as PROJECT AWESOME). I’m about 16k in on PROJECT AWESOME and pretty happy with where it’s going. My protagonist has just lost everything important to her (or so she thinks) and is hell-bent on some ill conceived revenge. Here’s…
…A snippet from the screen: “The fireplace was dark and soot-stained, the walls charred. Someone had righted the dining room table, though, and as I walked around it I saw a spray of blood stained one of the legs. I tried not to look at it, but that was like asking a dog to ignore its own shit. I sat down on the floor, legs splayed out, shoulders slumped, and I ran my fingers up the table leg. The dark pattern of Daniel’s blood looked almost beautiful against the grain.”
On the iTunes: I’ve put together a new playlist of generally downbeat, mournful, angry, or depressing songs to help get me in the proper mindset to channel my main character’s bitterness and rage. Playing now? Everybody Hurts by R.E.M.
Keeping me company: Mr. Ramses, H.R.M. King of Cats, has ascended his throne and settled in for his morning/afternoon/evening/nighttime nap. Until his royal belly starts to growl, I anticipate hearing little more from him than the occasional sleepy-kitty sigh.
A little procrastination never hurt anyone: LIES! Sorry, not going to share distracting links with you today, dear Reader. I have been burning in a fiery pit of procrastinatory you-know-where lately and I don’t wish that on you. Go and be productive, or take a walk in the sunshine, or read a book…but don’t procrastinate on the internet (she says as she checks Facebook again…).
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Well, the title kind of says it all.
I’ve got exams to grade, and we have people coming over to dinner, but I just can’t seem to bestir myself towards productivity. This is the second to the last week of Premier League soccer, so, naturally, most of the morning was spent on the sofa, huddled around the laptop cursing and screaming and drinking lots of tea.
It’s ridiculously beautiful out today and I did manage to go for a run–good thing, too, because I’d skipped out on my Wednesday cardio session. So, I narrowly avoided having to write SHAME in huge block letters across my exercise chart. Whew 😉 Seriously, though, the Healthy Me campaign is going great. I’ve lost 3lbs so far, which might actually be too much too fast, so I’m in the happy position of being able to increase my calories rather than decrease them. Sweet timing, since I’m making this for desert tonight.
Since I finished up the current draft of ABSENT earlier in the week, it’s time to turn to a new project while I wait for reader feedback and let things percolate. Next on the docket is continuing to draft UNDER THE BRIDGE, a dark urban fantasy set in the Pacific Northwest. I got encouragingly positive feedback (plus some great suggestions) on the first three chapters of this when I workshopped it in Dallas a few months ago, so I’m psyched to really dive in and hammer it out. It’s all outlined and ready to go. Stay tuned 🙂
Well, hope you are all having a pleasant Sunday with plenty of couch time.
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