Back to Work

Well, my word count for this month is going to be fairly abysmal, at this rate, but given that I’ve had the flu for the past 8 days or so, I think that I can forgive myself the lapse.

The hard part is going to be getting my momentum back. I’m still not feeling my best, but maybe the break will work in my favor despite its length. I haven’t been able to do much that I deem useful (though as a friend pointed out, healing is useful, so thank you for that much-needed perspective which helped me get through the most boring days of the illness!) – my word count tracker has registered a zero every day for the last seven, and I feel like I’ve just misplaced a week of my life, but that’s left me chomping at the bit to get back to work as soon as possible.

When I stopped writing last, I was just finishing up an argument between the main character Euryale’s parents. It was an oddly difficult thing to do, as I’m almost never in arguments. And I wanted it to be an unusual thing, too, something that Euryale really has to chew on, because her parents aren’t the type to have shouting matches any more than I am. The way I’m currently writing it (I say currently because as it’s a first draft, I know everything is bound to change over time), Euryale hears the tail end of the argument as she’s coming home, but she can’t make out exactly what the argument was over.

This scene ends with Euryale’s mother Hermione stepping outside for some air, and meeting Euryale. I want to show, in the span of maybe a page or less, the closeness of their relationship, which might be a challenge, because I also don’t want to give away everything that Hermione and Athanasios were arguing about. I had planned on a scene between this one and the next to do that job, but realized it was almost entirely filler, and that wasn’t going to do at all, so I cut that scene’s idea completely.

Balance is a tricky business. You can have too much filler, or not enough… But I do tend to write long scenes and long stories. I think I can safely err on the side of cutting some scenes – this book will end up plenty long enough without lots of filler besides. While the filler scene would have served a purpose, why should I write a scene solely for the goal of showing the depth of a relationship when I can use an existing scene with a plot-related purpose for the same goal? Two birds with one stone. Every word should be used well. But I definitely think that it’s better to come up with too many scenes that might read as unnecessary and have to cut some ideas than it is to have not enough meat on the bones of your book. Write first, edit later. There’s a quote I heard this past November (hey, National Novel Writing Month!) that really resonated with me:

“I’m writing a first draft and reminding myself that I’m simply shoveling sand into a box so that later I can build castles.” – Shannon Hale

It doesn’t have to be neat and perfect on the first draft. Neat and perfect come later, if perfect ever comes – but if you do it right, it’ll be someone’s idea of perfect. So that’s something I periodically remind myself of while working on my many first drafts. I’m definitely a perfectionist when it comes to writing – not necessarily in blogs, where I’m just letting my thoughts go where they will, but in my fiction. I may not have any finished works yet, but I’ve got scenes I’m pretty proud of nevertheless. And funnily enough, I got those scenes mostly when I was able to let go of the desire for perfection. When I can just get into the flow of writing and shoveling sand, sometimes, an unexpected castle pops up.

So I think that’s enough of getting nothing done. Tomorrow, I get back to shoveling sand.

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