Friday, February 08, 2008


After my wailings about my first draft yesterday I got half way through the fourth story and had to put it down. The black cloud that had started to form when the printer wouldn't work and the hole puncher chewed up half the pages had turned positively torrential by then. I just hated EVERYTHING I had written, which a part of me knew wasn't right - it was one of my better stories and the characters were interesting - but the weak part of me kept thinking about how much WORK there was to do and that this was going to be so HARD, and perhaps I should just go to bed and when I wake up forget that I had ever thought I could be a writer.

So instead I did the following things:

  • joined a book club at my local library (if you live in Dublin the list of libraries' book clubs is here);
  • read a bit of JPod by Douglas Coupland in the bath;
  • watched my boyfriend install our first big screen tv and subsequently stared at it awhile; and
  • slept in this morning.
Part of my problem is not only wanting to be perfect at everything and never to make mistakes, but also that I want everything RIGHT AWAY PLEASE. I can hardly sit through a two hour film, lose it with inanimate objects that do not respond within nanoseconds and am (hang my head in shame) rude to customer service agents who don't know what I'm talking about immediately. So when I'm faced with something that's too difficult and will take too much time to surpass my first instinct is to just walk away and find something easier.

I'm not going to do that though - I've put too much work into my first draft. I'd never forgive myself.

Instead I'm trying to come to terms with the fact that this is going to take a long time, that I can't put a timetable on it (at the moment anyway) and that I will face days where I'm going to be worrying over just ONE PARAGRAPH because it is bothering me but I can't think of the words to make it better (the thought of this frightens me the most) but that I can do it.

Like someone who learns to play an instrument they can quickly pick up the basics, but must practice for many years before they are proficient. And writing is no different.

So here I am at 11 o'clock and I've still not read any more of my first draft. But I will. I just need to keep reminding myself that it might take longer than I first expected, and that isn't necessarily a bad thing. It just means I am taking my time.


CTaylor said...

RIGHT AWAY PLEASE. Me too! Especially when it comes to writing. Editing is bloody hard work (look at my blog to see how slowly it's possible to go!) but you just have to keep chipping away. And yes, sometimes you want to throw the whole lot away in frustration but that will pass and you'll come back to it in time. I feel your pain Yvonne!

Alix said...

I think understand what your your going through. So frustrating and draining when your at the start of something so huge and there is no end in sight but as you say everything takes time. Can you break up the editing into mini goals so you feel a sense of achievement?
keep going though it is going to be good and we're cheering for you.

Yvonne said...

Cally, good to hear that it's not just me! Frustration is just part of the game I suppose, but it helps to know that other people have gone through it - and survived!

Alix, thank you so much for cheering me on, I need it at the moment! Great idea about the mini goals. Once I've read the whole manuscript I'm going to work on each story individually - so more achievable goals.

SpiralSkies said...

I don't think we realise at the start just how much hard work really is involved. No matter how much we do, there's that nagging feeling that there could always be improvement somehow.

You're right, it is like learning an instrument. At least with writing, we're unlikely to make the neighbours cry while we get the hang of it :)

Just keep on keeping on. The cogs will still be turning, even while you're watching that new telly.

Yvonne said...

Jen, my friend's neighbour practices his (bad) electric guitar playing at one in the morning, thank god for small mercies!

You're absolutely right, the cogs are turning away all the time. I took a break today and bought some books - heavenly!

Angie said...

I'm impatient too and want things RIGHT NOW, so I understand. Writing requires so much patience, but I know you can do it. You're very committed to it, and that is the most important thing right now.

Hang in there, and enjoy that new tv during your breaks!

JJ said...

Yup, I want it NOW too. Part of this process is about realising that that's not possible. 'First drafts are always shit' an' all!

Keep asking yourself what you want long term.


Yvonne said...

Angie, thank you, the tv is wonderful!

JJ, I'm trying to keep my eye on the big picture and it seems to be working. Cheers for the tip!

Holler said...

Don't pressure yourself too much, it won't do any good to be stressed!
And............. please don't read books in the bath, it makes the pages all wrinkly! Do I sound like a librarian or what?

Yvonne said...

Holler, I'm very careful not to make the pages wrinkly...but if I do, at least I'm relaxing and I've only made my own book wrinkly right?

Holler said...

Sorry, I have a bit of a thing about wrinkly books! Didn't mean to be a moan!