“Go where we may,
Rest where we will,
Eternal London haunts us still.”
Rhymes on the Road, IV
(poet, singer, songwriter, and entertainer)
Last night I fell asleep dreaming of summertime. Specifically, the childhood summers in my suburban hometown. Summers were pure in that ’50s Americana way. Me, Lauren, John and Charlie, on our bikes, racing down the big hills off Ryder Lane, then around Copley Pond, or my favorite, Pollywog Pond. Our houses were built in a valley, this dipping knot of side streets and hills made for bike rides. Carless. Careless. The sun setting a blaze, cutting through those ancient sycamore trees that line Park Avenue, making the leaves look like stained glass. The smell of grass being cut, manicured perfect. Sticky ice pop fingers, grass-stained feet. The call of our parents when it got too dark. Then BBQ dinners outside, fireflies and charcoal grills–the smell of hot dogs and burgers, my dad’s were always the best. And then it was bath time, only to falling asleep to the cicadas, the booming cicadas.
-William Shakespeare, Sonnet 98
-Chad Harbach (co-founding the literary magazine n+1), from The Art Of Fielding
I am a doer. Like, I “just do it.” I get sh*t done. Fast. Usually compulsively from beginning to end, which can sometimes lead to wasteful practices like, finishing a book you don’t like just because you started it.
But for the most part, this doer attitude is a good thing. During the draft-writing stage, this attitude has served me well. When writing a first draft, I either have to “just do it” or I will never do it. So I employ a simple practice:
2,000 words a day, 5 days a week.
NO MATTER WHAT.
That’s 10,000 words a week, which means I’m a minimum of 6 weeks away from a first draft. Six weeks is nothing! I once read that 60k is a minimum word count for a novel and so after years of essay writing in school, I have been trained to aim for the minimum–sure I’m a doer, but I’m still lazy. (Even though my books usually end up being longer, I still trick myself by aiming for 60k.)
When I find myself with a completed draft, I’m awe-stuck. It happens so fast that I’m all like, “Wait, how did this even happen?” and also it’s followed by fear: “OMG I will never be able to do this again.”
But once the draft is done I slow down when I reach the editing stage. Maybe because there is no real way to measure edits. So I just kinda plot along, changing verbs, rearranging passages, re-reading the book from beginning to end. Unable to hold myself to a minimum.
I am at the editing stage of my newest novel now, and as you can see I’m sooo excited about editing.
Regardless, us writers need to carry on. Enough of my whining. I’m getting back to work.
Hey! So most of you know that I’m on an epic quest to get my young women’s fiction/new adult novel, GIRLS WHO TRAVEL published. (Check out an excerpt here!)
Because I’m such a visual person, I found making a Pinterest board very helpful when I was writing. You get to “see” your characters and also, you can set a tone. It was important to me to keep the tone of GIRLS WHO TRAVEL very lighthearted, airy, dreamy, and travel positive.
Check out the page here: http://www.pinterest.com/ntrilivas/girls-who-travel-a-romantic-comedy-of-errors-wande/
I understand this sentiment, but I also believe that when we cling to our sufferings we build unjust monuments to them. Sometimes, they don’t deserve such praises, such psalms. Still, I think about the times in my life in which I exist in a glorious mess or a self-inflicted misery and recognized how important those blue periods were to my development as a artist. But it’s the artist’s job to know that suffering is not art, and we must not make mistakes under the guise of art.