Tag Archives: first drafts

Borrowing Trouble

Last week I was required to take a TSI (Texas Success Initiative) assessment test so that I can begin registering for certain classes come fall. This is just a program/test that determines your skill level in the core areas and helps line a pathway better suited for each individual. It covers the basics with sections in writing, reading and math, totaling almost 200 multiple choice questions and a written essay and you have five hours to complete it in.

Five long hours.

There are worksheets and books out there designed to help you study for these types of things, but I was given exactly 12 hours notice before I was to take the test and that included time needed to make dinner, handle the night time routine with the kids, sleep, wake up and travel to the testing site. Needless to say, studying was not given an opportunity.

Did I mention, five hours of testing WITHOUT prior study.

My apologies, reiteration seemed necessary.

Now I am going to be real honest with you… I hate math. I absolutely detest the numbers and equations and simplicity of something that manages to give me so much grief. Sure, I can add, subtract, calculate percentages in my head – especially when there is a good shoe sale going on – but ask me the square root of anything and I am out of there. Numbers and I, we just don’t really get along, it’s nothing personal.

So when it came time to do the math part of the test, you might be surprised to learn that I truly didn’t sweat it much. I answered to the best of my ability and when all else failed, I any many miny moe’d what I didn’t know. At the end of the day, math is just not my thing and I was alright with whatever my math score was. The worst that was going to happen was me being told that I was not good at math. No big deal.

Out of the three parts, I was most excited about the reading part. Shoot, I can read! Reading is fun. It is an adventure, bring on the reading test!

What had me really panicking was the writing part. I am talking heart palpitations, sweaty palms, eye twitching, it wasn’t pretty. My husband just laughed, informed me to calm down and take a breather because this was not a pass or fail sort of test.

There was a lot of glaring going on at my house after dinner that night.

He didn’t understand. I wasn’t worried about passing or failing really. Sort of. It was more than that.

best-good-enough

I am a writer. I have spent the last ten years of my life with one goal in mind – write. What if this stupid assessment told me that I wasn’t very good at it? Then what? It was too much to handle, too much to consider and I almost called it quits last Wednesday. College just wasn’t for me. Not if it meant taking a stupid test that told me that I didn’t pass a writing assignment.

By morning, I stopped borrowing trouble and remembered something. I am a writer. So what if I didn’t score well, I would just learn to improve whatever I scored low on. That is the great thing about being a writer, there is always room for improvement. A first draft is just that, a first draft. No one expects you to get it right the first time, so do not expect as much from yourself either. Allow yourself room for growth and improvement, and remember… perfection is boring.

Have you ever been in a situation that made you doubt your abilities? If so, share with me in the comments below. 

Till next time,

~AJP

In case you are wondering, I failed the math section by 19 points, but scored a 7 out of 8 on my writing essay! All is right in my world.

 

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