Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Confessions of a Publishing Noob - the 30,000 Word Freak Out

Well, the historical fantasy rough draft is on track so far. I have a cast, a plot for the most part, and a very familiar knot of terror in the pit of my stomach. Oh, yes. It's the 30,000 word freak out.

It took me a few novels to realize what was going on. At the same point in the process, every single time, my productivity decreases. I become convinced that everything I've written so far is complete crap and I need to go back and change everything right now or I'll never be able to save the book.

It's irrational, I know. And I still haven't really figured out how to deal with it. Most of the time I just plow through, but I've gotten different results each time. The two before Bard were so flawed in other ways that it didn't much matter. Those were my training books. The try and fail books from which I learned the very basics about my process. Don't get me wrong. I'm still learning, and will always be learning, changing, and growing.

With Bard, things weren't as bad as they seemed at the time. Just putting my head down and digging in seemed to get me by. I think it helped that I had a better idea of where I was going. I had an ending and a list of bullet point scenes for an outline. Its sequels are pretty much ready to go, too. The planning strategy worked so well, I tried it with the next book, confident I could beat that freak out down.

With Gravedigger, though, the book really DID fall apart. I ended up with six chapters of great and fifteen chapters of epic fail. I know I've blogged about it before - just sticking it in the drawer and chalking it up to a learning experience. But I really do love the damn thing. Maybe in a few years I'll have enough experience to know how to fix it.

All of that leads up to now and Boss Lady. Being that I'm deep in the throes of the 30,000 word freak out, I'm not sure how things will turn out. Already, this has been a different book than the others - a different book than I'd planned, actually - and I'm writing it in a different way than I did the previous four. I have to frequently stop and fill holes in my research. Dialogue is harder and comes out more stilted than it did in my contemporaries. So far, all the flaws I see I can fix later. I think that this time, I'm most afraid of the flaws I can't see yet. I hope that I'll be able to turn that off and just get those words down.


Savanna Kougar said...

Mel, thanks for sharing with us.

Hmmmm... you've probably tried just letting the characters go... see where they take the story... like you say, you can back, fix the flaws...

Anonymous said...

Just relax. Take a deep breath, put it aside, go watch a sitcom or something. It'll look a lot better when you come back. If it doesn't -- and a lot of them don't until after they've sat for awhile -- hey, that's why they're called "rough" drafts. The words aren't carved in stone. Yet.



Mel Hiers said...

Hey, Sav! Actually, that's how I usually write. They tell me what they want - they tell me what happens to them. Even in the planning stages.

I think the freak out is just a mental block I have. But it's a pain in the butt to work through! :-D

Mel Hiers said...

*Deep breath*

Thanks, Pat. Actually, after I wrote the post yesterday, I decided to do some querying in the hopes that a different kind of freak out would help dispel this one! :-P We'll see how that goes.

Evonne Wareham said...

Funny I'm at exactly the same place with the WIP. At the moment I've shelved it to work on something else - two something elses. Eventually one of them will hook me and that will be 'The One.' At least, that's the theory.

Lexie O'Neill said...

We all have our spots. I generally don't have trouble getting through the first draft, but, boy, do I procrastinate about edits. I hate editing!
So, I break it down (or at least I'm going to when I get to writing this week). I tell myself if you can just write/rewrite/edit 5 pages, you can take the dog for a walk or you can do laundry--yippee!
Sorry I've been away from the computer--Spring Break is here!

Gem said...

I'm so glad a dropped by. To hear authors having angst over the same issues I have, let's me know I might figure a way through it.

Thanks for the therapy!