Monday, February 16, 2009

A Writer Pre-Fears

Today's post is two posts in one, meant to illustrate a point.

Although we make our lives with words, a remarkable number of writers - myself included - are extremely bad at using language to frame our experiences in a productive way. We focus on our fears and talk ourselves into a bad headspace. Worse, some of us manage to talk ourselves out of ever really trying. We write, but never try to get our writing published, or we give up writing altogether.

Both of the posts below are true. Which one do you prefer?

* * *

As you probably gathered from Fryday's post, the last day of the week was a mad writing dash (punctuated by Shabbat dinner and a brief babysitting stint with the one year old Stone twins). I wish I could say I made it just in time, but in actuality, I made it just after time. I fired off the email with my edited first draft at about 4:30 AM, 7:30 AM White Wolf time.

Now, this is 7:30 AM on a Saturday, so I'm not sure my boss actually noticed. And even if he did, I'm not sure he cared. That, however, does not stop me from being anxious.

It doesn't help matters that I don't think this is my best work. My first contract was very simple, concrete game stuff, the kind of thing I write for myself all the time for fun. This, however, was more abstract. I think I made a two errors that seem glaring now. First of all, I didn't hit one of the points my boss asked for. I just couldn't figure out how to fit it in so that it didn't seem tacked on. Secondly, of course, there's the technical lateness of it. I'm still kicking myself for that.

If you know me in real life, you probably already know that I am an anxious person by trade. I have awful images of boss man emailing me to say that due to my sloppy writing and four and a half (or seven and a half, depending on your point of view) hours of lateness, I am done with White Wolf - done! Worse, I imagine him not emailing me, just quietly never hiring me ever again. And another hope dies before it is ever really born.

I am reasonably sure that I am being unreasonable. My boss is not that sort of person. Missing one point of the many I was supposed to hit is not a big deal and can be fixed in the next round of writing. Four and a half hours (or so) is not a huge problem, especially since I still got the draft to my boss probably before he woke up in the morning, so unless he bothers to read the time stamp on the email (or, you know, this) he'll never know how late it was.

* * *

As I'm sure you guessed from yesterday's postlet, Friday was the culmination of a ridiculous week of writing. My first draft for White Wolf was due last night, and was delivered last night (technically, extremely early this morning). I am exhausted and ready for a rest.

I am not 100% happy with my first draft. Most of it is the usual first draft stuff. I'm looking forward to Matt's suggestions, because I think the stuff I wrote for this book could be really awesome with a round of edits. My greatest regret is this one point Matt requested. I couldn't find a way to hit it that didn't feel tacked on. If Matt asks for it, I'll get it in my next draft. If my stuff is good enough without it, I'll let it be. Given that this was my first time writing abstract game material - as opposed to the more concrete stuff I had to deliver for my last contract - I think I did a pretty good job. When the book comes out, I'll let you know which sections were mine, and you can let me know if you agree.

What I feel the need to reflect on the most is the mad crunch week. While it certainly was fun, it showed a lack of forethought. I'm going to have to plan my writing better next time to prevent the same thing from happening again.

Nonetheless, I survived and I'm looking forward to my redlines and, as always, my next contract. Life is much more fun with a project, and getting paid money is a nice perk. Until then, there's always my short stories, one of the two novels I'm working on, and, of course, my Super Secret Project.

Perhaps a vacation will be nice, after all.

* * *

Yeah, I'd pick the second one, too. It's funny how we tend to get caught up in our fears and anxieties and refuse to describe the world in such a way that it becomes, for us, a place we want to live in. Don't forget that a change of pace is only a few clever word choices away.

This week's motivational semantics brought to you by the Burning Zeppelin Experience.

3 comments:

Kathryn_aka_Kat said...

Um, no. I liked reading the first one better. Now, this doesn't mean your premise is necessarily wrong, because they're also written in completely different styles as well as attitudes. The first is chatty, fast-paced, casual, and helps me identify with the writer, poor guy, I really feel for him. The second is stiff, detached, pompous. See use of over-long words and cliched phrases: culmination, looking forward to, greatest regret, nonetheless. It reads like a classroom essay or a cover letter. Yeah, poor guy *yawn*. :-)

Mark said...

Wow. That's not what I expected at all! Thanks for the input, though.

Now that you mention it, I think I know why it turned out that way: the first is where I "really" am and the second is where I want to be. So I suppose it makes sense that the first is a little more heartfelt and the second a little more stilted.

Alan said...

Yeah, I'm with Kathryn_aka_Kat. The first made me feel like I had gotten to know someone. I cared about you and wanted to help. The second felt closed off and superficial. With the perspective of both I, of course, wanted you to feel many of the emotions in the second one and think it is useful to reframe in the positive. But from a compelling artistic perspective, definitely want to continue reading about the first one and not the second.