Radical Rewrite, Day 4

Yesterday I took a pile of editing and a pile of notes and went to the coffeeshop in nearby SnootyTown. Sometimes I need a change of scene and SnootyTown has a grocery store I like. In addition to a change of scene, I also needed groceries. I gingerly parallel parked between an SUV and a Mercedes (don’thittheMercedes, don’thittheMercedes) and tucked myself into the back of the cafe with my two piles and a good cup of coffee.

I am trying to write a summary of what happens in each chapter a la Anne Lamott. I have my first scene, but there are a thousand places I can go after that. Which is the best? I want to tell you all these things all at once. How can I choose? They all belong! I gnashed my teeth, stared out at the gray afternoon, and secretly judged all the SnootyPantses around me.

(I do this a lot. Who are these people who have nowhere else to be on a Thursday afternoon? And I am aware that I am a giant hypocrite. Moving along.)

Driving home, I felt only disgust and despair. Anne Lammott says she wrote 500-1000 words on each chapter. I had written 200 words, and they fizzled into nothing, unable to support their own weight or continue with their own momentum. How would I ever get this shit done? Bleargh. At least I had tortillas.

Maybe I was asking too much of myself. “DP, maybe I should just try to write 250 words every day. Eventually I have to get a chapter that works, right?”

“Mm-hm,” DP said, secretly hoping I would go away and leave him to listen to his Smithsonian Folkways music in peace.

“Bleargh.”

That’s when the epiphany hit. (And, thank god, I really needed an epiphany.) Don’t start with the first chapter. The beginning is always the hardest. And so I wrote 200 words about the second chapter. I haven’t read them this morning, but they came easy. I knew what I was heading in the right direction; I didn’t have to commit hari kari on my thumb drive just yet.

What keeps you from throwing yourself on your sword?

And don’t forget to enter the Kill your Darlings contest!

Advertisements

3 responses to “Radical Rewrite, Day 4

  1. What keeps me from throwing myself on my sword? Sheer inertia. I’m too lazy. I hit the wall in my writing (and on long runs) all the time. Dissatisfaction seems to be my steady state. Insurmountable plot or theme problems my constant companions. I suppose there are techniques for dealing with this, workarounds or such, but I usually just rely on either powering through or putting aside (for now). I am what I am.

  2. I didn’t know what my first chapter really was for 4 years. Which I wish I’d known earlier. And just because that many words is Ann Lamott’s process, doesn’t mean it’s yours. Write what you can and move on.

  3. I tell myself I just have to do something every day. It doesn’t have to be a big thing, as long as I keep moving forward.

    I still fall on my sword sometimes, though. Luckily it’s only pen-sized and the wound isn’t fatal.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s