Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Approaching Mount Doom

And no, I'm not referring to the aforementioned Mount Laundry.

I'm referring to the start of the long, arduous mountain trek otherwise known as "the first draft." Now, it's not that I foresee disaster. I don't. Or that I don't want to write. I do. I would rather write than do many another thing. And it's not that I'm not excited about the new story and the new characters and the new-to-me setting -- I am! I've faced this particular mountain before, too, many times. This will be my fortieth manuscript (36 books and 4 novellas). I know I can write a full length historical romance manuscript.

But it's still daunting, going from Chapter One, Page One (or Prologue, Page One) to the final page, approximately 400. First drafts are mentally exhausting -- every sentence can mean a decision, a slight shift that can change the direction of my story. I tend to take a lot of breaks, and longer ones, with first drafts. I need them.

This is one of the times when it really helps to have friends who write. Who else can understand the frustrations when things aren't going well -- when you're "stuck" with a scene, or you've had a great idea, but it means things will be radically different from your original plan and you're not sure if the first idea was really better all along. Non-writers tend to get a baffled expression when you start talking about things like this. After all, you're the one who's got the can you be "stuck"? What's wrong with changing or, conversely, why would you bother?

The worst thing of all is being "stuck" (aka writers' block). I've had that happen once, with the books that's on the shelves now, HERS TO COMMAND. And let me tell ya, that was NOT pleasant! I think the book turned out quite well (finally), and the critical reception has been generally excellent, but the process? Oh, baby, spare me!

So I have doubts and worries whenever I start a new project. The deadline looms in the back of my mind. At this point, it's far, far back, so not a source of stress, but it's there. I know there will be good days, and bad days.

So what do I do? Well, I still have some "secretarial" things to finish, and I need to go over my synopsis and notes, and then I'll open a file on my computer. Chapter One, Page One. England. 1203...


Michelle said...

Out of curiosity, how long does it take you to write a first draft? I'm trying to speed up my process (and learning that I since I write at least 3 drafts, I should probably speed up draft 1!).

Good luck to you! I enjoy your medievals. :)

Margaret Moore said...

Thanks, Michelle. It takes me about two to three months to write a first draft. Some chapters/scenes take longer than others (love scenes!); some I can zip through fairly quickly.

Michelle said...

That's great! I'm much slower, but I'm hoping to speed up the process.

I stand in awe. :)