Turkey Day is over. Black Friday is in the rearview mirror. Saturday was another volunteer DJ gig, and then Sunday was “clean the bunker” day and attempted relaxation. Monday (I think that was yesterday) I decided to announce a LEAN week on the P.E.W., so that I can focus on writing and reading for a while.
Did my plan work? Did I guilt myself into writing by telling the world that was what I was going to do? YES! I actually got a few pages of fiction onto paper. (I usually start my big writing projects on paper. It helps me feel closer to the project…or something…) BEEP BOP BOOP. Interestingly (to me) I wrote at least three times as many pages ABOUT my new fiction writing project (in my “big journal,” on scraps of paper “on the job,” and in my “nighttime journal” that I keep by my bed) as I did actually WRITING the project.
And, NO, I’m not super happy with what I’ve written so far. (Thank Bob, we have editing!) I would share some of this awful writing with you people, but I learned something extremely valuable from Stephen King: in his book ON WRITING, King mentions that it’s best, when working on a new project, NOT to share anything until the first draft is completely done. One of the motivating factors for writers is a desire for attention, and if you’re showing everyone pages that you’ve been working on before you finish the project completely, you get all the “Oooos” and “Ahhhhs” that you need too soon, and the drive to finish the work disappears. So when I’m working on a LONGER piece, now, I don’t like to show any of it to anyone until I’ve totally completed the first draft. Seems to work for me.
But for this new project, I’m having a particularly rough time getting started. (Too many cobwebs gumming up the brain-pan.)
Oh well. I’m of the opinion that SOME words on paper is better than NO words on paper. I get as many ideas onto the page as I can, then I cross out the ones that make the least sense. (Or, in some cases, the MOST sense, which can be boring.) Hopefully, somewhere in this process, a decent story takes shape—but the important thing for me is that it takes shape on PAPER before I put it into an electronic device. I’ve had terrible luck with words typed directly into machines. In fact, I suffered a major tragedy just this last Sunday! While working on my review of Chamber’s AN OCCULT DICTIONARY, I had been sending myself notes on my phone, page numbers for items I wanted to write about or weird thoughts that popped into my head while I was reading, but I never bothered to transcribe my messages onto scraps of paper or to write the notes into my journal—and OF COURSE my entire “conversation” that I’d been sending to myself, all the notes, DISAPPEARED from my phone for some reason. Gone. Erased. No longer there. (Illuminati plot? Someone at the phone company didn’t want me to write about Chambers??? Who knows…) My memory isn’t great, which is why I started writing things down in the first place, but I thought having a digital version of my notes would be good enough. NOPE. Digital is ephemeral and can disappear in a puff. It’s happened enough times now that I KNOW it’s important to keep REAL notes on paper—which can last for centuries, or can be destroyed by fire, water, dry rot, bugs, or might just get thrown in the garbage by an uncaring fiend. You know, something more permanent than electrical data floating around in some network.
Where was I? (Rambling, I guess.) Oh yeah, writing. That’s what I’m working on. Writing is hard. Writing takes effort and patience and mental elasticity. (I might be in trouble there, now that I’m older and out of practice.) I love drawing and making my bunnies and snakes and monsters, but they’re pretty simple and quick to create. I’ve gotten too lazy. Time to put some energy back into the HARD STUFF. Make my brain work again.
Evaluation of day one of the PRIMITIVE’S PROGRESS: the first step in a thousand-mile journey. And I’m a slow walker. Now for DAY TWO. Let’s keep steppin’!
—Richard F. Yates
(Primitive Thoughtician and Grand Hoohaa of The P.E.W.)