What? It's Wednesday again? How did that happen . . . *looks around distractedly*. Seriously. HOW? Ah well. Another week of life has flown by, with me groping ineffectually after its tail feathers as it passed. This week LEFT ME BEHIND. You know how some weeks you climb onto and ride like . . . an ostrich, or a unicycle? They carry you along, wind in your hair, and you reach the new week like it's a bus stop (ostrich stop, unicycle stop) and you're perfectly on time, impeccable in your crocheted Barbie traveling suit?
And other weeks roar right past you like those stupid redneck ATVs, spewing sand in your face, and you flail blindly and tumble down a sand dune and lay moaning at the bottom, while seagulls peck at you to see if you're delicious? Yeah. Well. You can probably guess what kind of week I've had! (And yes, thank you, I have it on good seagull authority that I am delicious.)
And NO, I did NOT meet my goal. I can't believe you asked. Sheesh. That's so mean. Just rub it in why don't you. Here, here's the salt shaker. Throw some salt in there while you're at it. And I suppose you are sitting smugly atop a mountain of pages, licking an ice cream cone with just the very tip of your tongue, gloating? Well, goody for you. Goody.. This is for you:
Ha ha. Sorry. I am REALLLLLLLLY happy for you! Really. No. Really. I am. I genuinely hope you all had splendid writing weeks. The fact is, I did have a highly productive creative week, but my energies were channeled into the unexpected art burst that I mentioned in my last post. It's Laini's Ladies related and it's important -- a whole new look for Laini's Ladies, about which I am really really excited, the kind of excited that makes you NOT GET TIRED, not even at 2 am. I've been up painting, listening to books on tape, and have to make myself go to bed. It's kind of wonderful! I did get some writing done too, but not as much as I wanted, and not every day, which is stupid, because when you skip a day or two, you know what happens. You lose your momentum, forget where you were, and have to go rereading stuff to catch up, which takes away precious time for actual writing. Plus, when you're writing a fast draft, you don't really want to reread that stuff, because its awfulness is painful. It makes me wince. I read it like this:
(That's not really me.)
So. Without further ado, let's have a sign-in for next week. In the comments, tell how you did and what you're planning to keep yourself inspired this coming week.
For my part, I need to get back on the ostrich.
My goal? Hm. How about . . . 6000 words? And writing every morning, so I don't lose my place. That's my commitment.
And now, some thoughts on . . . the Zero Draft:
I think the first place I ever heard the term "zero draft" was in the Terry Pratchett interview in The Wand in the Word: Conversations with Fantasy Writers, by Leonard S. Marcus. To the question, "Do you revise your work?", Pratchett answered:
"My work goes through five drafts. Draft Zero is something I would never show anyone! Draft One is me telling the story to myself once I think I know how it goes. Draft Two is me telling the story to my editor. Draft Three is what we end up with. And Draft Four is what I call sanding and polishing--when the spell-checker comes into play and I'm working on the fine detail of a sentence."
And I liked it, the idea of a draft so raw it doesn't even get a number (Okay, nerds, fine, so zero is a number. Whatever.), it isn't even really considered a draft. It's certainly nothing you'd ever show anyone. I mean, look, Pratchett's first draft is still only for himself; it's not until the second that he shows somebody. The zero draft is a primitive, inchoate* thing, the shadowy silhouette of a beast that has not yet fully come into being. It is a Frankenstein creation still lying on its slab, not yet animated by the spark of life. It is somewhat monstrous, and that's okay. It is supposed to be.
I wrote recently how I'd heard one writer's process was to write a draft and then delete it and start over, and how appalling this was to me, but now I get it. This deleted thing was perhaps a zero draft, a monstrosity. To read it would probably be painful, but the writing of it was necessary to begin to bring it to life, to get it to gel in your head so you could begin to write a first draft.
The beginning of my current book, the first third to half of it, is not a zero draft, but is in various states of polish and persnicketiness. The problem there is that when I shift an idea even slightly, which I am constantly doing, it requires rewriting, much much rewriting, and the more I love the writing of a particular scene, the more I will try to preserve certain lovely phrases, carry them over into the new version. And this takes FOREVER. It's the most painstaking kind of surgery, like transplanting eyelashes onto your Frankenstein. Have you had the experience where you're doing something that requires keeping your hand steady for long periods of time and your hand is just fed up, it just wants to go a little crazy, flap around, clench and unclench, do jazz hands? That's what happens to my mind after a while too. I've known for a long time that the idea of a zero draft makes total sense, but I haven't been so able to DO it, at least not in a long novel. But I am trying it now, and I shudder at its Frankenstein-ness, but still, there are *snicks* every single day, where I figure something out and realize that I have made a breakthrough that will not require any ridiculous eyelash transplant surgery because I had not yet devoted time to fine-tuning something that was not ready for fine-tuning. It's such a relief.
So, are you doing a zero draft? How's it feel? Happy writing, everyone. Happy week!
*(I love the word "inchoate" and am forever trying to find places to use it :-) It dates back to my high school reading of D.H. Lawrence, and having to look the word up, and even then not being sure I quite had a hold of it. It was like trying to hold a fish. Do I know what this word means? I think I do ... no wait, it just escaped! Quick, catch the inchoate before it flops back into the lake! A hallmark of my young writing is over-the-top vocabulary. I spoke that way too, kind of like Oscar Wao. Nerd that I was. And am.)