Switching From Confidently Editing and Writing Anxiously - The Violet Project Diaries - Entry 13
A day-in-the-life diary series about the development of my writing career as a dark fantasy novelist.
I have to be honest, I didn’t miss the anxiety that comes with wanting to make sure every word you write is significant. The ideas bursting inside of me while I was editing was really exhilarating. Now I’m back to layering the story down, brick by brick, word by word.
The first draft was easy for me. I heard something the other day while I was listening to writer podcast “The Writer’s Routine”, hosted by Dan Simpson, that writing the first draft, aka writing the vomit draft, can be easier than the second draft. The writer being interviewed said he always ends up being very perfectionistic about every word, not to mention he said he’s a lyrical writer so he definitely wants flow and artistry to be prominent in his storytelling (probably most writers want that, but some of us REALLY care about it…obsessively). Hearing that from American-noir writer (who happens to be British), Chris Whitaker, author of We Begin at The End, was really comforting. I was thinking, “Yes, I totally understand that,” but then there’s the other voice inside of me, the voice striving to live a fulfilling life and often challenges my guilty pleasure with, “I know perfectionism tends to cripple me rather than heal me.” Very true. For the first draft, I let my perfectionism go, but now that I’m writing the second draft… I’m wondering if I need to bring back the ol’ harsh inner critic. Maybe instead of powering up my harsh inner critic back to 100% then push it to 1000% like I used to, I can do about…say 40%?
So I did that…and I struggled…and it was really hard rereading my work even with my notes that encouraged change and discouraged panic. When the critic would focus too much on the issues, my progressive side focused on fixing the problem. Is it weird to have those two voices? (Two consciences?) Well, I don’t really care. I just wasn’t sure if I liked how I was rewriting. This led to such worry, to the point where I was concerned if finishing the book was worth it. Eventually, I took a step back from both voices and the book itself, did the dishes, went outside, then tried writing again.
I’m not sure if this time I was just lucky or what, but I remembered another voice, the voice of my heart (and yes, I know how cheesy “voice of my heart sounds”. I’m a poet so I’m allowed to say things like that). While I was writing a memory of my protagonist, it transformed into the prologue. The heart of this story and my protagonist is well introduced with this particular memory. My inner critic and inner progressive agreed that it was the perfect beginning. I moved away from the cliché starting points authors, editors, and publishers warn you about, like start with the weather, a dream, or staring out the window. I want the audience to dive right into the heart of my world and the story’s theme, then go with the flow from there. It felt good. I felt confident. It was nice while it lasted.
Sometimes you get a little too in your head as a writer, reading and rereading endlessly. It’s so hard to stop. You almost have to make yourself get away from your desk, force yourself to do something else. It was hard to leave my desk because I was nervous about the setting and the ambience not being immersive enough. Why do we do this to ourselves? Why is there always something about us that isn’t enough? I’m going to turn off the inner critic for a moment and let my progressive voice speak up: yes, there’s always room for improvement, but whatever your best is will be enough at least in this stage of your journey. Lol so “deep” right? But I believe it. I gotta tell you, I’m so sick and tired of beating myself down when I’m in a state of constant practice. I’m a goddamn writer. That’s that.
On to moving forward, anxieties and all.
Thanks for reading
My horror short "Autonomy Bleeds Black" is available at Kindle, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, Scribd, and other ebook outlets.