The Warm Fuzzy Glow Of Accomplishment

This weekend I finished the draft of the work in progress. I’ve been sitting on it a bit to let my brain move out of post-novel haze and to give myself a bit of space to focus. After which, the draft will go to my beta readers, some of whom I’m reliably informed are drooling at the prospect.

It’s a nice feeling. The draft took me about two and a half months, with very few dead days where no writing happened, and even fewer days where there was no writing and no world-building or research. So I guess if everything went well I could finish a novel in two months.

Not that I plan to. I do have a job, and said job is important to us being able to pay the bills each month.

I honestly don’t know what really pushed this though so quickly, but I do know what helped: I tried to write something every day. I didn’t always succeed, but on weeknights I aimed for around 500 words and if more happened so much the better, but if there wasn’t that much, well, at least I’d written something. Or I’d added something I needed to the file that has all the behind-the-scenes world-building stuff. Or dug up the Very Important Piece of information I needed to make the story work. Or – in at least one case – I’d checked with my sources that where I thought the plot was going to go was realistic enough that it wouldn’t cause the book to have sudden flying lessons. That generated a fair number of words in chat windows that were needed to solidify the plot, without adding anything to the book.

All of this counts as progress. If it’s not the actual piece, it’s the structure behind it which a good author makes invisible because the flow of the story is what’s paramount. It’s why when you go looking at the work of authors like Pratchett, or our very own Dave Freer (who is criminally underappreciated. Go ye forth and buy his books), or… Well, quite a few of the Mad Genius cohort, actually. Anyway, it’s why when you look closer you can see that there’s a lot of layering and shading of meaning built into the works, but when you’re reading them it all flows seamlessly into an experience where you stop being you and become the characters. Or the world (I defy anyone to tell me the Discworld, Ankh-Morpork, Lancre and the like are not characters. I will laugh at you). I only hope I can be that good one day.

This is an aspect of reading I suspect some don’t understand. Every Pratchett book I own has been read at least three times. Some more. And every Pratchett book I own reveals more every time I reread it. So do Dave’s books. And Sarah’s. Usually what they reveal is a deeper understanding of how people work, although there can be some chilling commentary on political malfeasance or corruption as well (and how people who are otherwise quite decent people can wind up supporting appalling things). And that’s without the little nuggets of weird fact I’ve found buried in them. Things like the French optical telegraph system that Pratchett recast as the Clacks. Or the quirkiness of the various deities Dave played with in the Pyramid Scheme books. Or…

You get the picture. Maybe I’ll be able to do that someday.

Until then, I hope to keep practicing, preferably without the lengthy period of “OMGWTFBBQNoCanHasWriting” that preceded the latest work. Because I enjoy being able to sit at the computer and have usable verbiage happen. And I really enjoy that lovely feeling of having accomplished something.

21 Comments

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21 responses to “The Warm Fuzzy Glow Of Accomplishment

  1. paladin3001

    c4c

  2. Oh yes, that brief relaxed moment when the story is on the page instead of beating on the inside of your head. When you stretch and veg out all happy, both to know it’s done and in the surety that another idea (or two or a dozen) will come along to plague you soon enough.

    • aacid14

      There is a reason called plot bunnies. They breed like em.

      • paladin3001

        Also, the reason I have started carrying a small note pad and pen. :/

        • Kate Paulk

          They breed and mutate. I find if I leave them be they’ll integrate themselves into something else and if I’m not careful, I wind up with the Epic With Everything And The Kitchen Sink

  3. I’m all bummed out this week because flu and Reasons (nothing major, just stupid stuff), my writing has been basically crap. What am I doing about it?

    Writing billing and cooing.

    Last thing on Earth I ever thought I’d write. But, when the characters all sit down and read a book, nothing else springs to mind. So one or two (or four!) go off in a corner and tell each other how wonderful they all are.

    After a couple pages of that, they seem to settle down and then some trouble occurs to get them doing something again.

    This means I’m going to have to trim a bunch of romantic nonsense, but at least there’s a little forward motion gained for the plot.

    • Right at the moment I have external ADD in the form of a houseguest who interrupts me every other minute. (I wish I were kidding about the timing.) I’m writing this time off as completely unproductive creatively, because I know from long experience that there’s no way to get her to stop, and the house isn’t big enough for me to hole up somewhere.

    • Kate Paulk

      I sympathize. At least you’ll have something to edit.

    • Well, you can always have something happening in the room and they’re all to self-absorbed to notice either the sneak thief taking everything that isn’t nailed down, the EMS running back and forth with gurneys, the ninja battle . . . “What was that on the TV a few minutes ago? It sounded exciting?”

  4. Congrats on the finish! And I’m currently enjoying the post publish feeling. I don’t want to write much (allergies and crazy-work-craziness), so I’m reviewing the rough draft of the next Cat novel. And just cut out an entire chapter. The characters are a lot different than they were when I wrote the chapter, and instead of moving the plot, it goes “thunk.” So out came 12K words, and I now have room for better material and the plot flows more smoothly.

    • Kate Paulk

      Thank you!

      That “thunk” feeling isn’t fun, but it is nice when you can make things move smoothly again.

  5. “That warm fuzzy glow of accomplishment.”

    As a kid, I was never allowed to bask in the warm glow of success because my father didn’t want me to get ‘the big head’. ‘Too smart for your own good,’ he used to say.

    This was long before the days of building ‘self-esteem’ was the most important part of public education.

    So permit me to direct your attention to 9600 words that I can’t sell and am giving away to anyone who cares to read them. Words on a fictional California exit from the Union of States. Science is involved. I solicit your opinions. If you tell me it is bad, my feelings will be hurt. If you tell me it is good, I won’t believe you.

    skandiarecluse.com/short-stories
    comments (I think) are enabled, but moderated.

    Please, won’t you be my friend?

  6. Christopher M. Chupik

    Finishing what you write is always the goal, so congrats.

    Now the real work begins.

    • Kate Paulk

      Oh, yes. Edit, clean up, get it published, then attract the ire of the PKs. It’s a rough life, but someone has to do it.