Wednesday, August 26, 2009

When the Going Gets Tough

Two weeks ago, I posted about staying with a book, even if it's tough, and how it's important to do the work, everyday. Oh, man. I really need my own advice, now.

Before I took five days off to travel through Texas and California, Shady Lady was clipping right along. I'm a linear thinker; I write my books in order and to make matters more complicated, taking a break in the middle of the book is the one of the worst things that can happen during a draft. Once I came home, I had lost the golden thread that was guiding me and to make matters worse, I had come to a portion of the book I call the swampy middle of doom. You've got this awesome beginning snapping along, and you know what your end point is, but now you're in the middle. Yes, yes, I am.

When the writing is going well, I can bang out 3K in about 3 hours. When it's going well. It goes well if I am allowed to write everyday, 5 days a week, with no interruptions in schedule apart from planned days off (weekends). I suppose I'm a little inflexible in those terms because I've become rather married to that process. Therefore, for the last week or so as I've been writing, it hasn't been going well. It's taking me 8-12 hours to write 3K and every word is like pulling teeth. Mind, I don't go to sleep until it's done because I know from past experience if I just push through the ugly parts, it will eventually get me back to a good place where I'm banging out 3K in 3 hours again. The only question is: how long will that take?

I will admit, when the writing is rough, it is very tempting to say screw and read other people's books. Because they're here, they're lovely, and they're done. I can't afford to do that for several reasons: I'm not a quitter, I have a schedule to keep, and the longer you lay off work, the harder it becomes to get your groove back. I've learned that, like most things, the hard way.

So last night, once again, after spending a whole day wrestling up to 2500, I was writing until midnight to get those last 500 words. After that, I rewrote my back cover copy for SKIN TIGHT and sent it to my editor. Why couldn't it wait? Well, if I had it on my to-do list for today, it would bug me and distract me from writing. I don't need that.

This job isn't glamorous for the most part. Sure, there are the occasional conference or convention, where I get to sign and meet fans, but for the most part, it's me, ass in chair, writing. And that's work. I love my job more than anything else I could ever do, or I wouldn't give 110% to it, every single day. But make no mistake -- you have to want it. You must develop a thick skin and a certain amount of self-discipline because your editor isn't going to ride you like a proper boss. He or she will just give your release date away if you miss your deadline.

Now then, I must stop fiddling with this blog post and dive into my words. When I get them done (and I will!), I'll be past the halfway mark. *booty dance*


azteclady said...

(if anyone is keeping track... she did and she is)

Jess Granger said...

You'll get the groove back, Ann. Good luck slogging in the mean time. It's tough.

Tiziana Stupia said...

Thanks for this! I'm stuck in Draft 2 of my first book, and it is exactly as you describe it. Argh! Tiziana from England