The fruits of persistence

This year, I decided I would write every day – and it didn’t matter if it was 5 words of fiction or 5,000, as long as it was every single day. No, I didn’t decide this on January 1st; that would have been far too convenient. I decided to do it on January 18th, right as I was in the middle of working on the pantry turnover project.

(Every year, I put a sticker on each and every item in the pantry. This way, I not only go through the entire thing, but I also get to see exactly what is still stickered from a year ago, and hasn’t been used yet. It leads to a month+ of interesting one-off meals, using up oddball ingredients, along with much lower grocery bills for the duration, organized pantries, and the sincere but unkept vow not to have so much “Oh! I want to try that!” that I never got to next year.)

This is relevant because this year I got a pack of gold star stickers for the pantry, and ended up with almost 500 excess gold star stickers. Having them right there, I resolved there was no time to start like the present, and put up the gag-gift wall calendar (shirtless men in kilts, with sayings like “Once you go plaid you’ll never be sad”), and started giving myself a gold star every day I managed to write at least 5 words of fiction.

For those of you rolling your eyes or laughing at the mental image, hey, writing may be serious business, but no one said we had to take it seriously!

What I also should have done, if I’d thought about it at the time, was keep a running daily wordcount. Alas and alack, I didn’t think about it until roughly a week ago. And then about four days ago I went “If I tracked morning vs. evening, I could see when I’m more productive…”

Turns out, it’s mornings. Not what I expected!

Though, after 11 week of typing everyday, I have discovered the flaw in my plan, the canker in the musk-rose bud… carpal tunnel syndrome. I now have braces for both wrists, better ergonomic setups at all workstations, (though some tweaking needed), and the sense that I really need to modify this plan to take days off. G-d may have told workaholics to remember the Sabbath not for him, but to force us to take time off and do that rest and heal thing we’re so terrible at. I am at least calling most evenings off… mostly…

But one other random, strange and unexpected thing happened… the scattered bits of scenes that I wrote every day started accreting into a story. And yes, I had to stop and figure out how things were linked, and go back and change things, and some characters didn’t actually have a name other than a placeholder until 20K in, but…

Almost in reverse, a plot started to emerge. And characters started to gain voices, and go haring off in directions I didn’t plot, didn’t plan, and didn’t see coming – but in written retrospect made perfect sense. And it’s turning into another, as a friend teasingly calls my books, “tactically correct romance.” (Not that I set out to write romance, but I do set out to write tactically correct and competent people. The romance happens, whether I want the characters to do so or not. Thankfully, fellow authors understand when I yell at the manuscript, “No! Unlike The Princess Bride, you are not a kissing story!” At least, they offer sympathy and liquor instead of a jacket with sleeves that tie in the back when I whine about the characters blowing raspberries at me and doing what they want, so I think they understand…)

Given this book didn’t start with a plot and a plan, it’s going to take more editing. I can’t complain too hard; I wasn’t expecting to recover the writing well enough, and learn coping mechanisms for the medication side effects fast enough, to get a story finished this year.

So, go forth my friends, and may you be as persistent as a cat who heard their owner crack open a can of tuna! You’ll get the story sooner or later!

5 comments

  1. “No! Unlike The Princess Bride, you are not a kissing story!”

    LOL! I do understand. I don’t write romance (not in the category genre sense), but romance threads do creep into my stories. And when a pair of my characters…hmm, how to put this discretely…took the kissing a little too far, I was furious. “I write fade-to-black or close-the-door when that sort of thing happens. How dare you two do this to me!”

    1. Probably for the same reason that more than once I have heard Sr. Scholastica or Br. Vector’s voice from a (supposed to be) empty classroom saying, “You! There’s no room there for the Holy Spirit! And just where are you supposed to be during this period?”

  2. After all the spadework on the deep background I’ve done for him, the MC in my WIP, who is an immortal, is finally starting to mutter at me. Given everything he’s seen and watched fall into ruin, he mostly comes across as right cynical, crusty, closemouthed old buzzard. Although it’s a temptation to play with the pretty little birds, bees, and butterflies he’s always attracting, it’s not one he can afford to indulge.

  3. I was outlining, I had the love interest all set up for my heroine and a prince turned into a bear — then I turned into one character — and I innocently introduced another character who calmly took over the love interest role — no question even of a love triangle — and I went oh yeah I need to marry off this character too —

  4. I’m not a romance fan, but I like Mrs. Grant’s stories a lot. And

    I’ve been doing the draw every day thing as well, even if my writer doesn’t have a script for me.

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