Tuesday 20 April 2010

Manuscripts, Spew and Non-Epiphanies

Last week two kinda crummy things happened to me - 1) you all know about and I won't be discussing anymore and 2) I got vomited on...again...for the second time in three months. I am currently teaching preschoolers here in Japan and it seems that I am the spew-target.
I would be complaining again this but I suspect that spew was magical.

You see, I came to Japan thinking I would be more relaxed and have time to write. Both are true. And yet I couldn't for the life of me start writing.

I'd come over here hoping to channel some of my observations as a newbie to Japan into a YA manuscript. I had a skeleton plot line in my head and planned to fill it in with the colour and people around me. Nothing happened once I got here.

Then a few days later I had an epiphany:

After this fantastic bolt of inspiration...it all kinda died. I couldn't do anything at all. The more nothing happened, the more frustrated and stressed I got.

I'd set myself a deadline of having a ms completed by the time I left Japan. Not just a first draft either, a ms that I was proud of having been critiqued by at least two others. It wasn't looking at all likely.

Two months later and I had all but given up. Until I went to Hiroshima for a long weekend. The second night there was unable to sleep. Every five minutes I was writing something else down in the dark. Needless to say, my handwriting in that barely lit hostel room is nearly illegible. But I came up with some great stuff. It built on my original epiphany but swept away most of the inconsequential stuff that I had originally thought.

My problem had been that 50 words I'd mentioned in the vlog. The fifty words that I was inordinately pleased with, the words that I was overly attached to. The tone didn't match what I wanted to achieve with the novel and so every time I tried to write...it didn't mesh. Once I made the decision to turf those 50 words, I was back in business.(You can read those 50 words at Michelle Zink's Open Mic here. You'll see what I mean.)

I've been noting tracts of dialogue, character profiles and plot for the past few weeks. On the weekend I spent 90 minutes brainstorming motivations and relationships with my friend on skype. I was ready.

When the kid spewed on me, I cleaned up and then started writing. I found a plain exercise book and my Australian flag pen and just started scrawling as my class ate their lunch. All the noting and discussions of the past few weeks merged and I was getting somewhere. At this point, a couple of days later, I am 5000 words in and counting. Not too bad, but not phenomenal either. But it is already 100% better in quality than the NaNo that I successfully completed in 2009.

My aim is still the same. To finish a ms that I am proud of (and have shared for critiquing) by the end of my stay here. December 2010. Let's see if I can do it.


Amie McCracken said...

Very cool. Sounds like you're working hard. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

Great vlog! I love those bolts of inspiration. They're so exciting and they really make you want to write even more. I know what you mean about over thinking your writing because I do it all the time. Good luck with everything! I haven't read any of your fiction but from reading your reviews, you're definitely a talented writer. :)

Carla said...

I can remember this vlog!!

And i'm so glad that your getting somewhere with your writing. I know how hard it is to be so in love and attached to something that you have written and then decide that the plotline and character arcs can't possibly work with your original plans. I really hope that you have your manuscript ready by December, because thats when i'm hoping to have mine done by. Keep us updated!

Robby said...

Good luck Adele! :]

Lawral the Librarian said...

As a former preschool teacher, I have to say I prefer being puked on to peed on anyday. Continued good luck and inspiration with your writing! :)

Pam Pho said...

Good luck Adele. If you need a writing partner I am hoping to get a good bit done on my ms in the seven weeks my daughter is gone in the summer. June - August. I could use someone to say "What did you do today lazy?".

Michelle Zink said...

I'm so glad you found your inspiration again, Sweets. It's so hard to hit the "delete" key on our words, isn't it? Yet, I often find that key can be the most liberating of them all.

I'm so proud of you and all you're doing and accomplishing right now. The world is yours.