it's all about the innuendo

This morning I wrote 89 words on a short story that had to be written now. Yup, that's right: 89 words. Obviously this story's idea mugging is going to be a long, sloooooow process. I think part of the problem is I have all the major elements, but none of the details. And lately, I've found I don't trust myself, or my process. Always over-conscious, and always second-guessing myself. Which is rather an uncomfortable situation to be in, it's true; but I'm not too worried (yet) because I've worked hard to make writing a more conscious process. (I can't help it, I'm a control freak.) Also, when stuff I know how to do without thinking about it becomes awkward and uncomfortable, it means my backbrain is trying to assimilate something new. Yay, right?

Another problem — one I'm much less sanguine about — is that lately, the editing brain is permanently switched on. Worse, the marketing brain is permanently switched on as well, and that little meatpuppet is whispering poisonous nothings from my shoulder every time I venture to put a word on paper. Not particularly helpful in getting a first draft down.

Note to self: get over it, and write. You can catch all the details in the next draft. That's what the comment balloons are for, remember? (I'm told patience is a virtue; and it may be so, but it's never been one of mine 😉 )

To distract myself, I have been surprisingly domesticated. Those of you who know about the ten-minute rule1 may want to sit down: I am cooking as I write.

That's right. Vegetable soup, bubbling away on the stove. And not just a single-serve out of a can type of soup, but raw vegetables chopped and cut and steeping in chicken stock. And enough to last me at least a half-dozen meals, at that. This is how you know I'm feeling rather angry at my stories, you see 🙄

The cat has been amusing me today by vanquishing the clean clothes from the laundry basket, and dragging his "kill" to show me. His latest victim is the blanket from the couch, but I think the blanket won out by secreting a sleepy pheromone, because midway through the vanquishing he's crept underneath and snuggled down for a nap. It's a tough life when you're a kitten.

New Links Memorised: Elizabeth Bear on the sanctity (or lack thereof) of language, Max Barry on maximum daily wordcounts

  1. For those who've not heard of my ten-minute rule, it's perhaps even more restrictive than you might imagine. The rule is, a meal should take no more than ten minutes to prepare and cook. If it takes any longer, eat it after 10 minutes anyway. It means I cook a lot of rice and pasta dishes, and often eat slightly crunchy rice. I live with the constant dream that, one day in the near future, we will eat via a single pill a day. It's my version of the flying car. []

11 thoughts on “it's all about the innuendo

  1. Deb,

    Just write, all right?

    I finished my first draft doing that. It took a month of early mornigns. I found pen and paper the best way to "just write" but way too tiresome to transcribe to the computer. The typewriter is a happy medium – provided you can scan and OCR. I did still find myself trying to pre-empt each word, line, paragraph.

    Just keep reminding the editing brain that she gets her turn later.

    Don't think, write. 🙂

  2. This is a photo of the top right corner of my monitor.

    I've had that piece of paper stuck there for years. It was there a long time while I was in Canberra. It's so old it's curled over and gone yellow.

    Sometimes, it isn't enough to have the little voice in your head say 'next draft'. Sometimes, you have to have permission sitting right in front of you all the time.

    Which possibly worked too much in my case. I've been meaning to post that my first draft sucks just a bit too much. :T

  3. The "comment balloons" thing made me think that you might have a use for StickIt, a simple, free computer program which allows you to create little reminder notes on your computer screen, which look just like PostIt notes. They're easy to remove, too, of course. The program's at this guy's website.

    That remark about how a kitten's got a hard life has started "It's a Hard Knock Life" playing in my head.

  4. You sound so much like me it isn't funny. 🙁 I've found writing a bit as I'm walking helps (a little tricky, but it can be done!) and writing when I'm kinda tired. Or just drink that internal editor into submission (half a glass of plum wine works well for me). 😉

  5. Chris: exactly!

    Forrest: thanks for the head's up, I'll check it out. Sorry 'bout the earworm! 😉

    Suzanne & Leigh: thanks. It is a rule. And suggestions always help. So does finding the right music to listen to. This morning it was Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Also, so does whining, because then you dislike your whiny self enough to do something about it 😉

  6. It's a paradox of sorts, Suzanne. That's why only said "ok". You can know your first draft is crap – but only when you're not working on it. When you're working on it, you need to tell your "editor" that the first draft is quite ok, and to shut up. 🙂

    Truth is, first drafts are better than we we give them credit.

    A first draft is like chipping out the basic form in marble. You look at it when its finished and it still looks like crap and you wonder if it will ever be any good, but the truth is, it already is, because the form is there. Now you need to get out your fine working tools for the second draft, and finally for the third, all the polishing type tools.

    You gotta believe in your ability to do a first draft but know it's crap by comparison to the finished product.

  7. Chris:

    Truth is, first drafts are better than we we give them credit.

    I really, really like this. I'm going to stick it on the computer screen (right under the permission to write a shit first draft, because I like contradictions).

    You'll have to forgive mine and Suzanne's neuroses about first drafts. After Clarion – where the crappiest first draft ever written is critiqued as if it's the polished, final product – you tend to develop a tic or two 😉 (Well, actually I think it's just my tic. Suzanne and Tess are stronger :mrgreen: )

Comments are closed.