Took down a wall despite the brain fog! Also, still no baby.

Well, I managed to keep my hands off the manuscript for about twelve days (this was probably mostly thanks to March Break). Then I found myself with some time to kill at a coffee shop again, so I decided to take my husband’s advice (he’s always shocked to hear that). I printed off the first three chapters, as they were, stuffed them into a folder with my critique class notes and poured over those for the next few hours.

The experience was both fabulous and frustrating. I settled into a very nostalgic sense of calm as I began: my favourite band on my ipod, a coffee in my hand and a printout in front of me. For all the work I’ve done over the years, it has been quite some time since I’ve just been able to sit with a printout and a pen. But there were also frustrations. Dividing up the 12000 word chapter (which was all I really set out to accomplish) proved to be more difficult than I’d anticipated (can I have three chapters in a row from the same POV?  Can I just continue a scene in the next chapter like that?) and I wound up scribbling notes all over every page, several of which were “Chapter break here? Chapter break here?”. On top of that, I also found myself getting distracted very easily. The baby-brain fog does not allow me to focus on one thing for very long, after all.

In fact, I didn’t even get to Chapter three.

And one of the major issues that has been outstanding since I completed the thing continued to gnaw away at me, since it will have to be addressed pretty much within the first twenty pages.

Despite it all, this review was definitely not a fruitless exercise because last night I managed to push over that issue-wall as though it was just a cardboard cut-out rather than actual bricks and mortar. I grabbed my laptop and started frantically typing before the baby-brain made me forget the whole thing. As I was doing so, of course, other, smaller issues came up within the solution but as I brainstormed I managed to work my way through those as well! The frustration now is not popping open the manuscript and plugging in these changes. I may have come up with the solution but I’m not trusting myself to do any actual writing until I’m feeling far more coherent.

As for the major distraction in my life these days, yes, I’m still pregnant. Adjusted due date has come and gone and original due date is in (eep) four days (which is, of course, the OTHER reason I don’t want to get overly involved in writing right now!) And there is nothing quite like a pregnancy or a newborn to destroy people’s internal filters. A smile and a glance at my belly is nice. Full-blown staring? Not so much. Oh and shouting at me across a parking lot isn’t as funny as you think either, dude.

So yes, both nervous and excited.  Most likely by next week I’ll have two kids!

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Must…not…edit… – okay, maybe just a little.

Since finishing the first draft of the manuscript last week, I’ve been finding it very difficult to keep my hands off of it and not start editing the hell out of it. I know that you are supposed to let a draft ‘rest’ for a time, but I’ve never been very good at that – often I edit earlier sections before the first draft is even done. The only reason I didn’t really do that this time was because I was so desperate to get the draft finished before going into labour. Letting this draft rest is a good idea. First, my brain can subconsciously work on some of those content issues that I know are lingering in there. Second, Kid 1 is on March Break so how much time could I actually devote to it this week? And third, how far am I really going to get before I have no choice but to shelve it for a while?

Oh, I also have a copy of a friend’s first draft and I really owe her some editorial commentary…

So yes, shelving it for a while is clearly the best plan.

At the same time, though…

My husband suggested that perhaps I just look at the first three chapters, if I’m that desperate. After all, that’s usually all an agent or editor wants right away. I resisted this at first – the interested party I have wanted the whole thing when it was done. I did consider the idea though, since there’s a possibility that that won’t pan out and I’ll have to go elsewhere. So, just out of curiousity, I popped open the first three chapters.  At which point I made a rather surprising discovery: the first three chapters wound up being SIXTY-ONE pages (of a 256 page, 22 chapter whole).

Excuse me?

Upon further investigation I found that Chapter 1 is about 4 000 words. Fine.

Chapter 2 is 12 000 words.

Chapter 3 is 10 000 words.

Oops. So yes…if I do find a chance to put in any work on it this week, apparently my first task will be determining where the first three chapters actually should be and maybe then putting in a bit of editing time on those.

Critique Class continues to go well…I’ve now also had my short piece reviewed and once again received very positive feedback. This was a 900 word piece that I read aloud to my smaller group, none of whom had heard it or seen it before (unlike the long piece which was emailed a week in advance to the entire class). A couple of people even told me that they liked it better than the longer piece! So I came away feeling very happy (and validated!) once again. Prepping this short piece also at least allowed me to do a tiny bit of editing, which helped my twitchiness about it. Now I’m off the hook until the second half of the class, as far as presenting my own writing is concerned.

Prep for baby 2 continues at a pretty frantic pace. I’m feeling (marginally) less panicky now that the nursery is painted and we’ve bought most of the things we’ll need for the baby and the hospital stay. Eleven days…crazy. I don’t quite believe sometime in the next two weeks I’m going to have two kids!

A week of writing-related awesomeness

Awesomeness #1 – Critique Class

For my first critique class I was scheduled to have my first ‘long’ section (3500 words) reviewed. As someone who gets nervous about having her friends and family read her work, I was glad to see that they’d scheduled a break right after my review, just in case I had to go be sick about the whole thing. But my piece wound up being very well-received, with only minor suggestions…and this was not a group that was holding back. I came away from that class absolutely soaring. Having put in so many hours and having spent so much time fighting the doubts as to whether I’m actually any good at this whole writing thing…to have this happen made me feel that what I’ve been doing really is worth it. Not that I expect every review – or even any more – to go like this. But it was still very nice to hear.

Awesomeness #2 – writing charm

My dear friend over at Wearable Miscellany crafted me a ‘Steampunk Writing Charm’ that arrived today. I absolutely adore it and would just like to point out, once again, that she lives too damn far away. I’ve hooked it to my necklace for the moment but I’m thinking I might need to buy some brass links so I can start wearing it as a bracelet.

Awesomeness #3 – Those two little words…

I did it. I finished the first draft this afternoon. I think I’m still in considerable shock. That’s not to say there isn’t work to come. This is the first draft, after all…it needs editing, proofing, cleaning up, finessing.  I know of at least one major continuity issue that I’m going to have to sort out. The piece closed at 114K so there’s going to be some cutting as well.

But all of that will come – probably in a few months once my sleeping gets into order and life settles down a bit (hahaha!). In the meantime, all that matters is that I got to write “The End” and I even managed it before Baby 2 decided it was time for his birthday.  And that feels pretty damn amazing.  And surreal.