Monthly Archives: April 2013

First Draft and Self-Sabotage

Hooray to me! My first draft of “Evolution” is now complete!

Of course, as soon as I sent the file off to the editors, I began to feel sick. No, this wasn’t some kind of anxiety-fueled illness. I came down with a cold! Without any word of exaggeration, an hour after I had pressed the “send” button, I started to feel poorly. Then this morning I woke up with a head stuffed with cotton wool, a sore throat and a blocked nose.

Yep. I held off illness until after my deadline.

The last few days have been challenging but overwhelmingly satisfying. I had ironed out the kinks in my story, patched the plot holes, messed around with the dialogue and had only one thing really left to focus on… the confrontation.

I have to admit, I was avoiding that part for as long as I could. Why? Because that’s where I’d have to deliver.

If you write a story, and expect someone to come along for the ride, then you bloody well better deliver when it’s crunch-time. There is nothing worse than investing your emotional energy in a tale only to be let down when it really matters most.

For me, there comes a time in every story when I’m faced with the realisation that I’m on my own. No one knows my story like me. In most cases, no one knows my story at all. So when it comes down to resolving the plot, it’s all on my shoulders. I’m on my own and no one else can help me. No one can fix it. No one can do it for me. It’s just me.

That can be stressful.

But… I did it.

I created a playlist of appropriately epic “final confrontation” music and played it on repeat. I psyched myself up by losing myself in that for a while before pouring it all out on the page.

Okay, so it didn’t quite happen that way. It took hours. Then Facebook tried distracting me. Then David Tennant. Then my kids. Then I needed tea. Toilet. Then David Tennant tried it on again… Really, it wasn’t my fault. I blame the people on my news feed, but I digress…

This is what happens when I try to avoid “delivering”. It’s the ultimate in self-sabotage. And even thought I am aware of my patterns and motivations for them – breaking bad habits is hard. It is therefore extremely satisfying to know that I didn’t let the distractions get the better of me. I fought them at every turn. And I finished my story.

 

The Ever-Shifting Outline

The long weekend break has been a blessing – as has been my husband. He’s looked after the kids, cleaned the house, kept us fed and provided me with copious amounts of tea as I have spent the last four days in self-imposed lock down, writing my story ‘Evolution’ for The Doctor Who Project.

And it’s been fun! And stressful…

So much time is put into creating a solid story outline – but what never fails to amaze me is how I can be running along, writing to my outline when all of a sudden… WAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH! Yep, that’s the sound of me falling down a gaping plot hole.

Science-fiction is funny like that. (When I say ‘sci-fi’ I mean ‘life’ and when I say ‘funny’ I mean ‘fucking annoying’.)

What follows is a mad dash to fix said plot hole. For me this usually involves a shower. I can sit stewing on a problem for hours but it’s not until I’m all soapy that inspiration strikes. Then the answer seems obvious. Until, of course, the plot patch causes other plot problems. The result is an outline that shifts so much that some parts of it barely resemble the original product.

Now I have to admit there is a pretty amazing flip-side to all of this.

Sometimes, when I’m patching, creating new holes and patching again – something wonderful happens.

For some strange and amazing reason, the repaired flaw becomes a spark of genius that never would have materialised had I not had a problem to solve. In this spectacularly fateful way, the “fixes” slot in to bring a whole new layer to the story. And often they relate back to something that happened in the beginning of the story, creating a perfect resolution to tiny sub-plots that may not necessarily have gone anywhere on their own.

Of course I’d like to be able to say “Yeah, I meant that!” but sometimes I can’t help but to wonder whether my muse had more of a hand in that than I did.

Or maybe nothing good comes from anything unless it has had to stand up to rigorous testing and the threat of failure…