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“Clarity” Diary #4: Catching Up

Header image from Pixabay

April was a bit of a blur, and it’s been a while since I’ve posted an update on how this WIP is going. For the most part, I haven’t actually been making much forward progress on this, but rather have been focusing most of my efforts on re-writing the first five chapters to be in first person present tense, since the rewrite of the first chapter went so well.

In general, I think that the present tense works better than the past tense. I think that I had started writing the story the way I did because 1) the original short story was written in first person past tense, and 2) I was being a little aspirational and mostly wrote in the point of view because I wanted to capture a Gatsby-esque feel of being in the first person past tense. I see now that it doesn’t quite work, and I’m finding the rewritten chapters much more satisfying.

But I did post Chapter 6 today, and I have the next few chapters planned, even if I don’t have them strictly outlined. Hopefully with the rewrites done I can focus more on moving the story forward. Whether or not I’ll complete the first draft by the end of the month is an entirely different story…

So this is the state of Clarity right now. If you’re on Scribophile, I would greatly appreciate any feedback on the story. You do have to have a Scribophile account in order to view the chapters, but it’s free to sign up. Plus, if you’re a writer looking to improve, it’s a great site to get feedback on your work.

“Clarity” Diary #3: Rush and rewrite

Header image from Pixabay

Some updates in the land of Clarity:

The accomplishments

  • A while back I had a huge writing spree, and ended up writing and posting both Chapter 4 AND Chapter 5 to Scribophile in one day! They obviously need to be edited because I rushed through them, but I’m proud that I made some serious progress on this work, and now we’re getting into some really juicy romance.
  • When I finished Chapter 5, I immediately wanted to dive into writing Chapter 6, though I stopped myself. I’ll elaborate on my reasons in the section below, but I feel an enormous creative rush to get this story down as quickly as possible. I think that’s a good sign!
  • I did a major rewrite of Chapter 1, which is both an accomplishment (I did the lion’s share of the work today) and a complicating factor. I’ll elaborate on the complications below, but I’m feeling pretty good about the rewrite.
  • This isn’t strictly Clarity-related, but I’ve been journaling more. I’ve been neglecting it lately, but I’m finding a lot of joy in just getting words onto a page at lightning speed. It cleared up a lot of creative blocks.
  • After all this time sinking into this work, I am still so excited about working on it when I sit down to write it. Though I’m always excited in general about writing (it’s one of the few things I can really fall into and do for hours without taking a break), there’s a spark here that usually goes out when I work on a project for this long. Knock on wood that it doesn’t go away!

The complicated

  • I rewrote Chapter 1 to take into account the great feedback I’ve been getting on Scribophile. There have been many critiques on how the first person past tense style I’ve been using puts too much distance between the reader and the story, so I rewrote it in the present tense. While I’m happy with the rewrite, and I think I did a pretty good job for having done it so quickly, it does complicate things a little bit. Do I now write the rest of the story in the present tense? Do I edit the other four chapters to match? And underneath all of this, do I even think that the present tense is what I want to go with? I’m in a bit of a holding pattern as I wait for more critiques, but it puts me in a bit of a bind.
  • Along this same vein, I have to put this project on a bit of a pause as I contemplate these questions. Much of what I’ve started to write for Chapter 6 will get scrapped, though I’m not really bothered by this. I’ve had so many scenes written and tossed for the chapters I’ve written so far that I no longer feel too much anxiety over killing my darlings. I keep those bits around anyway, in a handy document called “Clarity – Scraps” in case they become useful.

So this is the state of Clarity right now. If you’re on Scribophile, I would greatly appreciate any feedback on the story, especially on the rewrite. You do have to have a Scribophile account in order to view the chapters, but it’s free to sign up. Plus, if you’re a writer looking to improve, it’s a great site to get feedback on your work.

Anxiety diary #1: The first step (Medium)

Tonight’s sleep deprivation-fueled whim: I’ve published my first post on Medium:

Anxiety diary #1: The first step

(It seems that I’m fond of internet diaries, considering that the series of blog posts about my current fiction WIP are called the “Clarity” diaries.)

I won’t say much more about it here, other than gently encourage you to go read it and give it some love if you find it interesting. Here’s an excerpt:

For me, anxiety starts in my chest.

I have trouble breathing, or else I feel like I can’t take breaths deep enough to get oxygen to my brain. I feel like crying, but there’s something stopping me, and all the water pressure that’s building up blocks my throat. Most days, when I feel the weight start to crush me, I can still stand up and power through it, put my best face forward and make it past the squeeze point.

Today was one of those days I didn’t stand up. I didn’t quite power through it.

Read the full piece on Medium.

“Clarity” Diary #2: Writing Chapter 3

Header image: Elisabeth D’Orcy, Flickr

I’ve just posted the third chapter of Clarity up on Scribophile. Here’s the link to it if you’d like to read and critique!

This chapter was the hardest to write so far. It’s about 2,800 words, expanding a section of the original short story that was only a few hundred words at most and adding in a few more new scenes.

All of the past two weeks went into this chapter. Any time I wasn’t working or socializing or keeping up with the rest of life I was trying to figure out the right sequence of events, writing and scrapping those new scenes several times over. And even though this chapter still makes me feel uneasy, still feels incomplete, I also didn’t want to agonize over it anymore and needed some feedback to give me some new perspective.

Despite how hard it was, and how much time I spent to write this chapter, there were some bright spots:

  • I spent a few paragraphs lovingly describing an awesome, if slightly cramped, apartment. It’s filled with musical instruments and sound equipment, and it was fun to lose myself in it. (The people at the library I write in probably think I’m crazy; one thing I’m learning is that I’m actually quite a physical writer, pulling the faces my characters would make in a moment and sighing at various points as I made my own heart flutter.)
  • The process of discovery is always enjoyable to me, even if I feel like I’m dragging myself through it. I’m picking out details and making note of them to bring them back around, and it makes me want to rush through and just write the damn thing already.
  • This was probably my most sensuous chapter. As in, it was the one where I was very consciously trying create a full sensory experience. Whether that’s effective or comes across is to be determined, but I felt pretty immersed in it while re-reading it. My hope is that the whole “If you feel it, your reader will feel it” adage is true.

I’ve already outlined some challenges this week, but here are a few more:

  • I was suddenly very self-conscious because I realized that people were going to read this. The first time I put work up for critique, the idea of “The Reader” still felt a little nebulous. Now, there’s this new sense that people are going to see this, and while it’s exciting and exhilarating, it’s also a little strange. Don’t get me wrong, I am eternally grateful to the people who read, critique and comment. My mind is just shifting around this new information.
  • At times, I lost the thread of my own story. Though the short story serves as a guide from beginning to end, there are a lot of changes to that original plot. When I was writing this, I wondered if it really moved things forward, or was entirely exposition. We shall see what the critiquers say.
  • In real life, I felt exhausted—physically, emotionally, and mentally. Work was exhausting, and I just wasn’t in a great state of mind to write. So that slowed things considerably.

So that’s the state of Clarity right now. Again, please consider reading and commenting on Scribophile! You do have to have a Scribophile account in order to view the chapters, but it’s free to sign up. Plus, if you’re a writer looking to improve, it’s a great site to get feedback on your work.

“Clarity” Diary #1: How this started

Header image: Erik Silva, Flickr

Clarity is one of my (many) works in progress and it’s the one I’m sinking the most time into. It’s different from things I’ve written in the past in a number of ways:

It started off as a short story. I wrote the short story in one sitting, and then put it away for several months. In my mind, it was one of the weaker things I had written in 2016, and I didn’t think I was going to do much with it except maybe scrap it for sentences to use in other works.

But then I re-read it at the beginning of this year and saw some promise, so I started editing it. I initially thought it would stay a short story, but then I started including more and more detail, started showing the side characters more until they became main characters, and so much had been added to it that I decided to go all out and turn it into a novel.

I’m writing it, somewhat, chapter by chapter. Although I wrote basically a detailed outline of the novel in the form of a short story, it still feels like I’m writing this chapter by chapter. I have to go from 7,000 words to roughly 50,000 so there is a lot of new writing going into this. Rather than doing my usual thing and writing the complete draft to edit it later, I’m writing and editing as I go, posting the chapters for critique to Scribophile when I think they’re ready. I probably won’t do any rewrites of the story until I finish the whole thing, but I’m experimenting with a new way of writing.

It’s a romance story. Romance isn’t a genre I read widely in, and I’ve never written a story with romance at its core. The fact that this story is in a different genre than what I’m used to was one of the deciding factors for me to use a pseudonym; it felt strange to write this story and still be “me” as a writer. I still have a decidedly literary tilt to it, but the genre has conventions that I’m still working on navigating. And honestly? It’s a little fun.

And finally, I’m documenting the writing of it in the form of this blog. Who knows whether this story will get beyond Scribophile? And who knows when I’ll finish it? But having a public account of the process might help me see my shortcomings, and help me document them with more regularity.

If you’re still with me after reading all of this, please check out the first two chapters on Scribophile. You do have to have a Scribophile account in order to view them, but it’s free to sign up. Plus, if you’re a writer looking to improve, it’s a great site to get feedback on your work.