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!

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!

The only constant is change…

I know some time has passed since I last updated but, once again, that whole life thing.  Kid 1 got sick again (reason 847 why I hate winter) and Baby 2 continues to cause me to pass out at random intervals, while somehow also managing to get in the way of any sleep I might get, you know, at night.

Anyhow, after last week’s post about my fear that writing was becoming too much of a ‘chore’, I found the perfect way to reawaken my passion for it: keep me away from it for three days.  Between Kid 1 being sick, having a crazy amount of things to do over the weekend and Kid 1 starting to be home with me part-time, I didn’t get any writing done between Thursday morning and Tuesday morning.  Tuesday, I was in my chair the moment everyone was out the door and put in probably about seven solid hours of writing.

As I suspected, having Kid 1 being home during the day is going to change the whole dynamic.  Perhaps it will change again, once the novelty wears off for him, but we’ll see.  Monday was a write-off  (no pun intended), as he vied for my attention pretty much non-stop.  Yesterday I did manage to get some work done but it was painful, with interruptions every five minutes (generally to tell me such compelling news as what his transformers were doing now).  Had it not been a rather mundane little connecting-section, I probably wouldn’t have been able to do it at all.  As it was, it took at least three times longer than it might have otherwise.  R. insists that once he’s used to being home he’ll occasionally do his own thing and I can claim that time for writing.  I think that the best scenario would probably be if I could start getting up earlier and finishing my writing work before anyone else wakes up.  And, if I weren’t pregnant, I might even do that.  As it is, these days I have trouble staying awake for twelve consecutive hours during the day.

The book itself is going well.  It’s going to be long, as I suspected, but that’s what the intensive editing stage is for.  I’m trying to be selective about what parts I tell, but my need to share every single detail of what happens means that the wordcount is already quite high.  I’ve also made some detail changes in my mind so I’m now going slowly back through to do a light edit and writing down notes so I don’t wind up doing things like changing someone’s eye colour halfway through.

To add slightly to the pressure, I got an email from my writing teacher today – he wants me to submit a piece for class review by the end of February.  So I’d better have something chosen and polished up by then!

And for those of you keeping track at home, baby 2 is due in 6.5 weeks.  Just to add a bit of weight to that ‘slight pressure’.

PS: found notes for a short I’d planned on tackling last fall and never got around to.  And I’m pleased to say I still love the idea.  If I can figure out a solid enough ending (my trouble with ending short stories is why I’m a novelist) I might give it a shot soon and see what comes of it.