Beginnings and Endings

Posted: August 9, 2011 by joemu362 in Joe

Welp. Finally happened – the first draft of CROWS’ HARVEST is done.

At least, I think it’s done. My head’s about to the bursting point with all the writing advice and articles and everything I’ve been reading lately that I don’t even know when a first draft is considered done. But, I’ve written out the story, written out major scenes and all this good jazz, filled up a good chunk of my hard drive with it, and have ended up with a book. Neil Gaiman said something once to the effect of the first draft looks like you just took a bunch of shit and blew it up.

Thing is, I’ve learned a lot of stuff writing CH and I’m hoping to take away a lot more of it once things get further and further into my writing life. (I’m afraid to say career.)

See, thing is, the reason I’m like, “Well, I think it’s done,” instead of “FUCK YEAH IT’S DONE,” is that the CROWS’ HARVEST experience has been unlike most anything else I’ve ever done. (By the way, the title in all caps thing I’m doing? I don’t know, I’ve seen a lot of other authors do it, and I figure that it’s an unwritten rule. Sorry if it’s annoying.) There was a scene I wrote in which Remy is giving a very Holmesian speech to one of the other characters and explaining just how he’d managed to complete the task that was laid out for him. He explained everything surprisingly well and I realized that at this point, I could see what needed to be done, what had been done, and all the crap that I could cut out of it and hopefully expand on. The first draft only clocks in at about 50k, which I had every intention of beating, but I guess what I’m saying is that I’m worried about it. Really. You want to talk about doubt and concern, look no further than this dude right here.

There’s been a lot of things I’ve had people tell me I’m not supposed to do as a writer. I’m not supposed to rewrite a scene. I’m not supposed to question the fuck-ups or plot holes because everything can be fixed in the second draft. I’m supposed to reach a certain word limit or the publishers will kick me square in the testicles, no matter how many published books from their own company that I’ve shown them that were smaller. I’m not supposed to spend more than a few days away from the novel or else the flying monkeys will come and steal my scrotum.

Lots of things I’m supposed to do and not supposed to do. It’s kinda weird, really.

And all the while, I can’t help but remember this article a friend sent to me in what was supposed to be a motivational sense. This one, to be specific. Go ahead, read it. I’ll wait.

It made me want to put the computer through the wall. It upset me because a good friend sent it to me with great intentions. What she wanted me to see at the end was “Write like a motherfucker,” which has become my mantra of sorts lately, but I can’t stand the article. It upset me because I have never ever seen such condescending drivel being written to someone and trying to pass it off as advice. Here’s the part that I remember the most:

“The most fascinating thing to me about your letter is that buried beneath all the anxiety and sorrow and fear and self-loathing, there’s arrogance at its core. It presumes you shouldbe successful at 26, when really it takes most writers so much longer to get there. It laments that you’ll never be as good as David Foster Wallace—a genius, a master of the craft—while at the same time describing how little you write. You loathe yourself, and yet you’re consumed by the grandiose ideas you have about your own importance. You’re up too high and down too low. Neither is the place where we get any work done. We get the work done on the ground level. And the kindest thing I can do for you is to tell you to get your ass on the floor.”

Alright, yeah. The lady expects to be good and doesn’t write frequently. I get that. But trying to go off and say that just because someone’s young and wants to be good at what they do is arrogant? That – that’s just not something I care to mess with.

I’m 22 years old. I don’t know many authors who’ve published something that young. But you know what? It happens. It’s happened. It sickens me to think that if I go to try and hand my best work in to a publisher that they might sneer and tell me that because I’m a young guy, it’s gonna be trash and thus they won’t accept it. Is that extrapolation? A little bit. But I’m venting here – it’s my squawkbox after all. So here’s how it is:

If wanting to put out the very best work I can makes me arrogant, I’m arrogant.

If having the drive to accomplish something instead of putting it off, I’m arrogant.

If thinking that you don’t have to hit some magical age where you’re finally good enough to be a writer makes me arrogant, I’m the Brat fucking Prince.

I’ll finish my work. I’ll finish what I started. If what I’m doing is just me trashing the first draft and rewriting it and not the fabled “second draft” I hear about, then I’ll take that.

But by God, I am a writer, and I will finish the shit that I started.

And if some condescending advice column writer wants to talk to me about it and throw out “doll”, “sweetheart”, “sugar”, and “baby” at me like I’m a little mewling four year old all for the sake of telling me that I can’t do it because I’m 22, she can expect a boot to the face.

Stata buon.

xoxo.

j

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