Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Eighth First Draft

My seventh Alafair Tucker novel, Hell With the Lid Blown Off, is set to launch in two weeks. You know what that means. It's time to get cracking on the next book.

I have just begun the preliminary research and planning stages for the next novel in my series. and soon I'll be in that apply-glue-to-rear-end-and-sit-down-in-front-of-computer-whether-you-like-it-or-not stage. Wringing out the first draft.

Or trying to. I find my mind wandering at the most inconvenient times, and considering that I have a tendency to give in to random thought as it is, I'm not having any luck completing the tasks I should.

For instance, rather than work on the manuscript I've just spent the last fifteen minutes naming my rock band. I was listening to Death Cab for Cutie when it occurred to me that they must have come up with their name by throwing darts at a dictionary. "Donis," I say to myself, "if you close your eyes and stab your pencil point at random spots on the newspaper, surely you could come up with your own effective band moniker." I've done this several times and have a whole pile of likely band names in case anyone is looking. Here are the latest, my four, three, two, and one word band names, in just the order random chance dictated.

Those Filet-Mignon Panini
Makes an Error
Secret History
Camera

I discovered several books ago that if I’m going to be able to power through the pain of a first draft, I have to set myself a rigid writing schedule. This is difficult for me, since I’m not by nature a disciplined person. I don’t enjoy forcing myself to put words on the page, whether I’m feeling inspired at that moment or not. I’m always anxious and unhappy for much of a first draft. Why, I ask myself, isn’t this better? It seemed like such a good idea when it was still in my head.

Why do I put myself through it? I’m never sure I can pull it off, no matter how many times I’ve pulled it off before. But then there are those days, even while you’re struggling with the first draft, when you do hit the perfect note, or compose a passage so beautiful and true that it brings tears to your eyes. Ray Bradbury spoke truth when he said that real success comes when you begin to write from the inside, and not from the outside.

Besides, once the first draft is finished and you’re on to the second and third and however many more, world without end, it all starts to come together and you realize with a start that you’ve got something. Maybe that old mojo is working after all!

p.s. I can't pass up the opportunity for some BSP. The early reviews for Hell are very good. Fingers crossed that good reviews translate into good sales. Read more about the book here. Years ago I heard Jerrilyn Farmer say that an editor told her once you have had seven books published you've pretty much made it. Until she had seven books published, then that same editor said, "Once you have ten books published...

3 comments:

Hannah Dennison said...

Donis ... great post and actually, your random pencil stabbing has saved me! For the past week I've been stuck on coming up with a name for a crucial location in my Vicky Hill Mystery. Now I know what to do! And p.s great news about the reviews. You have the BEST titles. How did you come up with them? I'm sure it wasn't by pencil stabbing.

Donis Casey said...

I wait for one of the characters to say something provocative, Hannah. Then I think, "hey, that'd make a good title!"

Vicki Delany said...

I also love Donis's titles. Love Donis's books also, I'm looking forward to this one.