Dusting off the Trash

Last night I had a dinner meeting with Amanda, and right before we parted ways, I made the confession that I had absolutely nothing ready to blog about today. Nothing.

She advised me to just write a stream of consciousness, I think that is what she said to do, but basically just start writing whatever comes to mind, just go with it.

Great advice, except for one small thing, I just can’t do it. My stream of consciousness usually revolves around the kids, the grocery list or other mundane crap that I am pretty sure you do not want to read about. Instead, I picked up the book that I am in the middle of and began my procrastination regimen.

Currently I am reading Stephen Kings On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. This is not one of those “How to become a Writer” sort of book, it is basically a biography of his storytelling and language and I am loving it.

Anyways, back to my procrastinating, tonight’s chapter was about the making of Carrie. Now I’ve heard the story of how he had thrown away his first draft of Carrie and his wife dug his manuscript out of the garbage and told him that it was worth his time. What I didn’t know was Stephen King never liked Carrie White. She only started out as a three page first draft before he trashed it.

In the middle of this chapter, he states that he made the realization that stopping a piece of work just because it is difficult, whether emotionally or creatively, is not a good idea.That sometimes you have to keep going even if you don’t feel up to it and sometimes you’re doing good work when it really feels like all you are managing is to shovel shit from a sitting position. (Ha, love that!)

That was my spark. Both for this blog post and so much more.

I started writing, really writing, when I was 21 years old. I am fixing to be 31 and I have published absolutely nothing. Want to know why? In all of my years as a writer, I quit 90% of what I am working on. Why? Because it feels like I am writing a big pile of crap. Or I become emotionally detached from my characters. Or I get a new, prettier, shinier idea to play around with. Or it just became too hard. It’s not that I am a bad writer, I just walk away too quickly.

Last year I made a resolution to finish something. Anything. As long as I finished whatever I started. True to my promise, in July I finished the first draft of my novel. And it felt good. Really good. Then in November, I participated in NaNoWriMo with the idea of doing a FanFiction piece of an old Fairy Tale. Then on Day one, I couldn’t seem to stop thinking about the characters in my finished draft from over the summer so I knew what I had to do.

Write what happened next. In that month, I completed what will either be a Part Two of my first novel, or a second book to the first one. Either way, I have two finished first drafts that I have been working on. I am no where near full completion, but I am still hacking away at it.

It hasn’t been easy. There are days that I think what I have written is complete crap. (Guys, no matter how much you tell you me what I’ve got is good, we still have our inner demons that kick us while we are down, but thank you though.)  Some of my characters are painful to be in, physically painful, but I have kept going. Even when a critiquer informed me that my favorite character was a piece of crap low life. Even when my hardest character to write turned out to be one of the favorites in my group.  Even when I knew I had to write that gut wrenching scene that left me in tears, I will persevere.

When this book is completed, I have full intentions to dust off an old half written first draft and complete it. I will keep going. I will finish. I am a writer and it is what I will continue to do.

Do you have any unfinished projects that need dusting off? If so, I’d love to hear about it.

Till next time,

~AJP

14 responses to “Dusting off the Trash

  1. I have several I need to dust off…after I finish the poetry collection and deal with Draeke and Anna’s story.

    And Jackson is NOT a scumbag.

    • Oooooo, I can’t wait to see what else you have on your shelf… just waiting for my eyes to see!

      Thank you! He’s really not, he’s just … troubled.

  2. I do have those projects and I do have those doubts and inclinations to trash stuff and move on. Fighting that now a bit actually. It’s always good to remember we are not alone

    • Oh please know that what you are working on right now, well what very little bitty bit that I have been allowed to read, is absolutely wonderful. In all honesty, I would gladly read the entire bit -beginning to end- in one sitting, having to wait for each little chapter, when I know how much you have already completed, is excruciating. You really do have a great story CJ, keep going.

  3. Pardon me while I laugh hysterically. Been there, done that — oh, wait, I just did that. Remember the fantasy novel that refused to leave me alone until I dug it out from under more than a decade’s worth of dust and rewrote it. No, darn you, it wants me to edit it. It had been sitting quietly like a good novel on the corner of my desk so I could work on something else. Please tell your muse to quit giving my muse bad advice. 😉

    • Hahahahaha now it is my turn to laugh hysterically. I am glad my muse pushed your muse, however, I’d really like your muse to focus on that Southern story that I have been waiting oh so patiently for.

      • My muse must have heard you because the plot came alive against last night. So I’ve been making notes and, darn you, now have that thick Southern accent in my head again. It is worse than most earbugs. Sigh. 😉

  4. Good post for someone who had nothing to post, today. I’ve just recently finished the Stephen King book and really liked it. I knew that he was a bit screwed up but not as badly as he admitted in those pages.
    I have a folder that I call “vignettes” in which I keep all of those things I’ve written that I either didn’t like, or liked but just couldn’t seem to go anywhere with. A couple wound up as short stories and one became a chapter in Jenny. There are many still waiting to be called upon.
    Again, good post.

    • Thank you! I think I am about a third of the way through the book, and now you’ve got me a bit worried… so far I am finding his stories and memories to be relatable to some of my own childhood… I have not really hit any “screwed up” bits yet, here’s hoping I do soon or now I will know that I am screwed up too!

      I try and keep everything as well, my “vignette” folder is so full, that I am not sure what all I have really written. However, I have three unfinished novels sitting with 30-50k words and the beginnings of a fourth with about 12k words. Each one I love, I could just never get the words from my head onto paper perfectly so I just flitted to a new one. I remember that one chapter in Jenny, in Laura Lynn’s POV I believe, it was awesome!

  5. Pingback: Nocturnal Lives » Another snippet because my brain hasn’t started working yet

  6. I can definitely relate to your frustration over not having published anything yet. I’ve been writing since I was a kid and each year and birthday that go by, I get more and more disappointed with myself. In the past I kept coming up with so many different ideas, that I just wrote nothing or I bailed on what I had started.
    Back in 2002, I wrote a werewolf fantasy novel – well, I wrote 4 chapters of one. Mind you, this was way before the vampire/werewolf craze. I stopped writing and always planned to go back and finished it. Once Twlight, True Blood, Vampire Diaries, and all that hit, I bailed on it.
    Thankfully, I still have all my abandoned writings, short stories, and half finished novels saved. Maybe I’ll finish them one day, maybe not. Either way, I’m glad I finally found a story that I’m 100% focused on. And I’m glad you have one too.

    • One day you should reread those four chapters and see if you can’t tweak it a bit and still use it in something. Maybe not a werewolf, if that isn’t a route you are interested in taking, maybe make up a whole new species. That’s the great thing about writing, it is your world, make it what you want!

      What I have read of your first chapter, you have a good start, I am excited for you and can’t wait to read more!

  7. I quit my job to finish (not write, but FINISH) a novel! And I was well past the age of 31. But I did take a workshop on how to develop a book and that got me over the mental hurdles of how to write something large. And, like you, I found NaNoWriMo to be an excellent tool for drafting. I’ve now finished three novel projects. One is looking for a publishing home and the other two are in revision. Finishing is so important for us to take this to the next level. And you’ve been published on Carrot Ranch. 😉 Keep writing, one word at a time!

    • I did not know that you quit your job to finish a novel, but now that I do, I LOVE that! Writing a large novel can be very daunting, I bet that was a great workshop. You are 100% right, NaNoWriMo was the best thing for pushing past the little hurdles and just getting the story out there. I am ashamed to say this, my 2013 NaNo is one of my stories that needs dusting. I am excited to hear more about your journey as you look for a publishing home. Oh, I am published on Carrot Ranch! I should change my Bio! (But shh, don’t tell the others how slow I am at doing so…) 🙂
      Happy writing!

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