“NO… MORE… SELF-IMPOSED DEADLINES!!!” (…imagine the “Mommy Dearest” voice)

We won’t even get into it.  Nope, don’t ask cause I damn sure won’t tell.

I lied.

“No more self-imposed deadlines” is my mantra for 2012.  Not a new year’s resolution because… wait.

Yeah, it is a resolution, huh?  Sigh.

Realized a few things:

  • I’m so far off schedule that I don’t know when I’m going to finish… even though it will most likely happen within the next twenty pages-max.
  • My schedule may have been a little “wack” (as we used to say around the way), a fatal flaw that added unnecessary stress.
  • I choked off the source of my creativity by worrying about the number of pages outputted instead of the frequency with which I exercised my gift.

Although the outline was finished last September something happened today that hadn’t occurred in nearly a month: The Muses came bearing gifts.

I subscribe to Steven Pressfield’s theory in “The War of Art”, that Muses honor tangible examples of our dedication to the craft by providing inspiration, ideas far superior to whatever we could have ever come up with on our own.

Don’t speak about the good ideas, cause they aren’t good enough.  I’m referring to the otherworldly ideas that feel as though they’ve taken an express train from the heavens, where you’re tied into another dimension, so vivid and real that you sensuously depict each stimulus in remarkable depth.

And it feels easy.  Like cheating.

No doubt, Muses at work.

Blah, blah, blah.  Anyway, the New Year’s celebration came and went.  Story didn’t magically finish and there’s a great word: magic.  To paraphrase the words of Little Sara (artist friend / sometime muse), I didn’t let the magic happen… I didn’t leave room for the magic to happen.  I took a soulful process and beat the life out of it.  Not every moment but often enough to lose my way, even if it meant missing out on moments that would have been edgy and raw.  Beautiful at times.

What an educational process writing my first novel has been.  A joy exists that hadn’t existed in years, not since I played live music in the L.A. area back in the mid-nineties. There’s a freedom that comes with flying, similar to sex but different.  Exponentially more powerful because more people and energies are interacting.

This is where I would usually end with the word count, number of paragraphs, and what chapter I was working in.  My clever little gimmick.  Instead I’ll end by saying it’s after midnight and I know I should turn in… but Muses came bearing gifts.  You see, I’m taking my two main characters on a steeper, scarier forced march than initially planned.  Pain will be felt, lines will be crossed, final consequences set into motion.  Story left the starting line at ten-plus on the intensity scale, and I’m blowing the roof of this bitch at the end!

…no, borderline arrogance.

I’ll say sincerely that I feel as though I’m but a conduit for this form of expression.  I feel connected to the world, part of a community.

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6 responses to ““NO… MORE… SELF-IMPOSED DEADLINES!!!” (…imagine the “Mommy Dearest” voice)

  1. There’s nothing wrong with self-imposed deadlines per se. But I suggest keeping the reasonable, and have a plan on how to achieve them that works with your life and the time you are willing to commit to them before you make them. If you do those two, they can be great tools.

    • agreed. I think the biggest problem is that I had never attempted to write a short story before… but then I go and write a full-length novel…

      difficult to make realistic deadlines with zero experience, huh? 🙂

      • lol, that’s why I tend to under-promise when there’s no past experience to use as a frame of reference. That way, I feel even better when it turns out the goal was too small. When I did NaNo for the first time last november, I thought, okay, I can probably do the 1667 words per day that were required to write 50,000 words in 30 days. Then I proceeded to top 2k ever day, some days by a little, some days by a lot. This last draft, with a daily goal of 2500 words, was a little harder, but I still beat it ever time 😀

        Besides, it’s not just about output, but also about actually getting the story and characters moving forward.

    • The final output from the first draft, the one I wrote for NaNo? None of it, except character names. I tossed the whole 107k. Everything. When I went to do the second draft, which I’m currently editing, I started with a fresh document. I think I looked up how I treated something for reference once, and then changed it a bit anyway. But I mean it when I say I had to go through that draft to be able to write the second, to understand what the story was really about. For this second draft, I’m keeping pretty much all of it. There’s some polishing going on, certainly, some rewording, smoothing. There’s some things that I’m layering in, but no whole-sale cutting.

      I didn’t feel forced at all during the process with the daily goals. But there’s a few reasons for that. First, I gave myself permission to have my first draft suck. I didn’t judge what I was writing, I hardly reread anything the whole time. I turned my inner editor off (a huge feat for me, as mine’s very loud and often obnoxious). See, if you never get to the end, the quality of the rest of it doesn’t matter. You can only sell, publish and really enjoy a finished book. And finishing feels like a million bucks. I did it twice in the last two months of last year, believe me, no other feeling like finishing.

      The second reason it didn’t feel forced was because I had already thought about it a lot. I went in with an outline, and was making notes on the chapter I was working on while at work or going to and from, so I was sitting down with ideas and words already flying around in my head. I found something interesting about the goals too. Every time I’d hit them, I’d end up continuing. Every single time, without fail. I’d feel free and light after hitting my daily word count and then more would just flow out of me. It stunned me, I have to say.

      Now, the above is just my experience, my process and what works for me. Yours may be different. I’ve learned over many years of working at this off and on that every writer really has a different process. I will tell you, I find that there’s a momentum to writing, especially if you take the pressure off of yourself to be greatness on the first draft. That was the hardest thing I ever did as a writer, but the best thing too, was to allow my first draft to be just that, a first draft, a starting place. The book grows from there. The first draft is never the end of the process of writing.

      Wow, that was way more than I planned to write.

  2. Wow, I needed that. Thanks for sharing.

    I can’t imagine tossing 107K, and the constant editing is my biggest weakness although I’ve become much more disciplined about it at this point. I used to be horrible, write for hours and then come back and edit during the entire next session… there were times when it felt as though i were watching paint grow. I do really get where you’re coming from about hitting the daily goal. Feel like I’m floating, and it always just keeps flowing effortlessly.

    I edited a friend’s children’s book tonight. It was SO refreshing to read someone ELSE’S stuff, and then polish it up (not her strong suit but the story was so powerful). About to hit the gym to work off the long week, gonna be a great, late night session.

    I’m excited to see what happens in these final pages, don’t know how it ever became such a source of anxiety. Ok, that was a blatant lie… long story lol!

    Man… can’t think of many things more satisfying than taking what’s in one’s head and getting it down on paper.

    Again, wow.

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