We’re almost half way through the month. Eek! How is everyone going?
I’ve managed over 26,000 words, although I’ve now done almost 2 weeks of ‘writing bilge.’ In the past day or two I’ve started to feel more comfortable with how my writing sounds, but it’s been quite a struggle up until that point.
A couple of nights ago I decided to change Edward’s profession from teacher to businessman in the hope that it will make certain story points easier. However, the result is that the majority of what I’d written up until that point has to change. Doh!
But here’s where the beauty of first drafts kicks in. I will make those changes in the next draft. For now, I’ve typed up some quick notes on how will I change things and then I’m continuing on with my current draft - writing as if he’s always been a businessman.
I find this fantastically liberating for two reasons:
- Firstly, because I don’t have to trudge back to the start and begin again. I finally have some writing momentum. I don’t want to lose that by starting at the beginning again. As I continue writing, there will always be things I want to change earlier in the story. But I’ve set the precedent – no going back until we’ve reached the end. Leave a note and keep writing!
- Secondly, because I know it will be easy to start on my second draft. I know when I pull it out of the draw several months down the track, I won’t read it and wonder where I’m going to start. I already know. The thing is a mess and lots of scenes are out of order. By the time I clean up the structure, I’ll be on a roll – having gathered momentum again to keep making progress.
So I’m very pleased with what I’ve accomplished this week. What about you? Please share with us some highlights (or difficulties) of your week.
It’s been very hard to choose an excerpt from my writing this week because, as mentioned above, I’ve been working through bilge. However, yesterday I wrote the following and decided this was what I wanted to share.
Here’s a little background: Edward has met our leading lady (Peta) on a plane into Beijing and she’s given him her phone number in case he ever needs help. After that, he was picked up from the airport by a Chinese representative of his company and taken to his new apartment.
He is jet lagged and just wants a cup of tea before curling up for some shut-eye. In the process of attempting to make a cup of tea, he discovers there is no kettle, water is leaking from under the kitchen sink and the gas won’t light. He goes downstairs to find the building manager and ends up coming across ‘Mr. Go’ who speaks virtually no English. Mr. Go is now standing in Edward’s kitchen trying to communicate with him.
With me so far? Remember, this is first draft stuff so it’s pretty rough at this stage – spit and polish comes later.
Edward fumbled around in his pocket. There, on a piece of paper, was Peta’s phone number. When she gave it to him, he actually had no intention of using it, but right now he would give anything for an English speaker. He dialed and then waited.
‘Hello?’ said the voice.
Edward sighed in relief. ‘Hello. This is Edward. We met on the plane.’
‘Oh hi! How’s life?’
‘Ah,’ she said. ‘Welcome to China.’
‘There’s a leak under the kitchen sink and the gas won’t work. I think the building manager is here to look at it but I can’t understand what he’s saying.’
‘You think the building manager is there? Are you worried you’re hallucinating?’
‘No, what I mean is there is a man here who I think is the building manager.’
‘Ah. I get you. Do you need some help?’
‘Yes,’ said Edward. ‘Help is exactly what I need.’
‘So leak under the sink and a problem with the gas, right?’
‘Let me talk to the guy.’
Edward handed the phone over again. Mr. Go had been feeling all the pipes under the sink and turning the tap on and off. He stopped, wiped his wet hand on his shirt and took the phone. The two of them had a chummy conversation, after which Mr. Go handed the phone back with a smile.
Edward put it back to his ear. ‘How did that go?’
‘He already knows about the leak. He says he’ll need to go get his stuff and come back to fix it.’
Edward felt his eyes close. ‘Great,’ he said, with no enthusiasm.
‘He’s going to look at the gas now.’
As she said this, Mr. Go pushed down on the stove knob. The stove clicked a couple of times and then belched fiery gas. Mr. Go fiddled with something, Edward was too tired to see what. Then Mr. Go pressed the knob again. This time the gas flames leapt over a foot into the air with a percussive whoosh, like the first few seconds of a rocket liftoff.
‘Mm,’ said Mr. Go, with a nod. Then he turned to Edward, gave him the thumbs up sign and said, ‘Okay!’
Edward realised the breeze in his mouth was caused by the dropping of his jaw. ‘Okay?’ he croaked. ‘You call that okay?’
Mr. Go glanced back at the stove. He pushed down the knob again, resulting in the same violent explosion. ‘Mm. Okay.’
Edward couldn’t peel his eyes off the spot where the flames had just been. The merest whimper escaped his lips.
‘Do you need me to come around?’ said Peta, her voice sounding suddenly far away. ‘I think you need someone there with you.’
Edward tried to speak, but the heaviness had now migrated to his throat and nothing would come out.
‘Where are you staying?’ she said. ‘What’s the address?’
A further realisation hit him. ‘I have no idea where I am.’
‘Give the phone back to the guy. I’ll ask him.’
Edward mechanically handed the phone back to Mr. Go, who was watching Edward with amusement. He started chatting, then pointing in different directions with his finger. Nodding a couple of times, he said ‘bye bye’ and gave the phone back again.
‘Turns out I live really close by,’ she said to Edward. ‘I’ll be over there shortly.’
Edward gurgled something in reply and then she hung up.
Mr. Go pointed to the sink and then to the door. He said something, then toddled out.
Edward staggered to the couch and eased himself down. Asimov hopped up beside him, putting his head on Edward’s lap.
‘Good grief,’ Edward said to no one in particular. ‘What have I got myself into?’
For the record, my gas stove does exactly that. We have to lean back whenever we light it so as not to catch any part of our person aflame. Ah, China. What fun.
Now, please share with us a snippet from your writing this week. It doesn’t have to be polished, just something which you liked.
Remember, everyone is welcome to join in. You don’t have to be doing NaNo WriMo, and you don’t have to be writing a first draft. Share a snippet of something you’ve written this week and feel proud of it.
P.S. I’ve just come across this interesting new writing blog called Swagger run by 8 writers. They’ve already posted some interesting articles. My favourites so far are Becoming a Writer (a reminder on the true definition of ‘writer’) and Can’t Please Everyone (which is something I’m always forgetting). Take a look and enter their Swagger Swag Giveaway (hurry though as it ends November 15th).