11 June 2010

Why Do We Care?

Feedback: it's a double-edged sword. On the one hand, writers generally long for feedback on their work - some sense of encouragement, an external recognition of progress. On the other, we dread it; what if someone hates it? What if we've just wasted two thousand words? Ten thousand?

Actually, I've done that before. I wrote the 'first' 10k of a novel called Logan's Prize, and realised that really, the interesting stuff happened in chapter eleven. I had a friend read over it, and they agreed; the first ten chapters were filler, backstory, uninteresting and unimportant. Ouch. So I dropped the story.

(Of course, being as tenacious as I am, I refuse to ever really give up on a story; I still have Plans for that one, bwa ha, and yes, they do include using some of that 10k that I've written).

But back to the point. Although one of the things that determines how quick a story will be written is me (surprise surprise), an unfortunately large amount also rests on the shoulders of my alpha readers. You see, I don't like first drafts. Not really. Sanctuary was, sadly, an exception that proved the rule. First drafts are ugly, and messy, and broken, and even when you finish them you just know you have so much more work to do. And invariably, there are Teh Hatez that happen somewhere around the middle, where you realise the beginning was all wrong and the story would be so much stonger if only THAT had happened instead, and while you could just keep writing and pretent that THAT had happened, wouldn't it be so much nicer to go back and fix it while you still remember what you want to fix?

And so you stop, meaning to go back, but you never do. Yup, done that too.

It seems I need readers to carry me through that phase, to remind me that progress is progress no matter how small, that finishing is a worthy goal in and of itself, quality aside. NaNoWriMo's great for that. So are alpha readers.

So what do you do when, for one reason or another, you can't have alphas? More to the point, what do I do?

That's not a rhetorical question; it's something I'm up against right now. Borderlands refuses to be written linearly. It has two timelines, one of which isn't chronological, and the scenes are all over the place. I know I need to let go of my need to write things In Order and just let the book be written - but doing that means sacrificing the ability to post to my alpha reader/s every time I finish a scene, because I do want them to read it in order after all.

So I'm stuck, right at this minute, between doing what I know I need to do and not being able to share it with my support team, and forcing myself to do it the wrong way just so I can feel better about myself.

We know which way I'll go, of course; I need the book written as well as it can be, not just written for the sake thereof.

But it's going to be a tough slog.

So tell me: how do you keep yourself motivated to write when no one else can do it for you?

4 comments:

Beth said...

I hear ya, girl. It's hard when there's no one to play your Alpha.

I've only had an alpha once. Marie was great motivation for me to finish the thing. Good alpha.

But for every other project I've started, no alpha. Maybe that's why I've had so much trouble in the motivation department.

Human beings need encouragement, someone to say "Hey, you've come far. This is worth finishing, even if just to finish."

Not to be depressing, but sometimes that person can be no other person but you. I have to (well, SHOULD) watch my self-talk and just get the derned thing down on paper.

If needs be, have a verbal convo w/myself: Beth, you can do this. You've come a long way from when you started. Keep writing and see what happens.

Le sigh. Hang in there. Just get it down in whatever order it wants to come out in. Sort out later.

Here's some confirmation from me: You are a talented writer, and I love your sense of humor.

*passes the chair glue* Get at it ;-)

Nayuleska said...

I remind myself why I'm writing, why I'm striving for publication. That kick starts me into gear :)

Michelle Davidson Argyle said...

That is such a good question! I've never not had an alpha for my work, so I don't know what I'd do without one. I probably wouldn't finish. I either have my husband or a friend be my cheerleader as I get through a project. I would like to think I could do a project without one, but I'm not sure I could!

Inkblot said...

Beth - *hugs* at the lack of alphas. Finding an alpha is /hard/. But thanks for the chair glue, and good advice re the self talk. Self-motivation is an important skill to learn, methinks!

Nayu - I should write my own answer to that down somewhere where I can see it regularly. Good idea! :)

Glam - yeah, I know what you mean. Part of me is all like 'but you SHOULD be able to finish on your own! Otherwise you're not a WRITER!' and the other part of me is like 'Yes, but I write FOR people to read, so if no one's reading, what's the point?'

Blah to self o.0 :)

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