How I Started Writing Again

Some good and some bad today. I did start writing again, more on that below. The bad news is that I have lost most of a notes document containing upwards of twenty pages of Wanderlust material. I had been relying on Microsoft Word’s autosave function, which is not a smart thing to do, especially if you are using a trial version of Word that has run out and will refuse to start up again if you are accidentally forced to restart the computer you have avoided restarting for weeks because the trial can’t run out on you if you never close the program, right? This accidental restarting occurred on my voyage through Canada a few weeks ago, and I’ve only just realized the extent of the damage. I’m feeling a little wobbly about the whole thing. It was all just notes, you understand, and pep-talks, and scenes I pasted there because I was deleting them from the manuscript in order to replace them with something better, but felt insecure about deleting them outright. Most of it was things I was getting rid of anyway, so this is not a disaster… but at the same time I can’t remember everything from the document, so maybe it is a disaster and I just haven’t realized it yet! There is one scene from the very ending of Wanderlust, possibly from the epiloque, that I have quite clear in my head and I know I have typed before, and it must have been in this notes document. It was in looking for this scene that I discovered the extent of the damage, and I feel a sharp sense of loss, for I know I wrote this scene, and I think it was good. It… hurts, to not be able to find it, because what if I can’t write it as good the second time? At the same time, I have all the words for it in my head. I see them so clearly. I will just have to write it up again, is all, and generally scenes do write better the second time, despite our fears. So man up, Grace. This could have been a lot worse. Wipe your eyes, write it again, and keep working.

I did start writing again. Just yesterday I finished a draft of Chapter 11. The most unintelligible, cobbled-together, might-not-contain-actual-words kind of draft, but a draft nonetheless. That means I’m on Chapter 12, the last chapter, and it’s actually going well! I’m very close to breaking 50,000 words on the manuscript. I should have a full draft (the roughest draft) by the end of the week—maybe sooner! Maybe tonight! Here are the two major things that got me writing again after a several-week drought:

1.) Workspace. Did you read all that stuff above about my copy of Microsoft Word being a trial? Well, the free trial ran out, and I didn’t have the money to purchase the actual program. I knew this day was coming, and I had a free substitute called Libre Office installed on my computer, and when Word ran out I just thought, okay. Time to make do. Except I hated Libre Office. Working in it made me cringe. I couldn’t do it, and I was on vacation so I ignored the entire thing as long as possible. Yesterday, sitting on the couch and talking to my brother, I was almost in tears because I still couldn’t afford Word, but I couldn’t imagine being able to function in any other program. Brother came to the rescue, as he has in every tech problem I have had, ever. He purchased Apple Pages from the the App store; Apple’s $20 Word Processing alternative. He needed it to touch up his resumé, and downloaded it to my computer so I could use it too since I was too skeptical to purchase it without a trial. (Yes, I own a mac. I have always owned mac. It’s a family tradition, plus they’re shiny.) Turns out it’s perfect, and, besides not loading images properly or having drop-cap capabilities, exactly what I need. Here’s a screenshot:

Most of the images don’t load, this is an exception, but I can put them back in if I want to. Most importantly, it displays a word-count and page-count at the bottom, has full-screen capabilities that are so helpful with distractions, and has all the necessary editing tools available at the top when I run my mouse over. With this program, I feel like I can finally THINK again.

2.) Inspiration. Saturday night, the first night the four of us have been home as a family in a long time, we watched Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows: Part II,  since my dad had it out on his netflix queue. I’d only seen it once in theaters, so I enjoyed seeing it again. Being the last of the Harry Potter movies, it was all about Ending. The ending of a book, the ending of an epic series, and, for many fans, the ending of an era. I’m not saying that I’m actively trying to emulate anything from this movie (I’m not even one of those rabid Harry Potter fans, really), but I am trying to craft an ending for Wanderlust; an ending that will stick and hold and be worthy of all that has come before. Maybe also one of the swooshy-spell things in the HP movie triggered a visual answer to the mechanics of a spell-thing I’ve been struggling with, but mostly, as I cried for Snape (always), felt awed by the epic moments of the battle, and wrecked by the sacrifices of Harry and all his protectors, what I internalized was how a proper ending should feel. How it should grab you, and where it should squeeze. Suddenly, instead of feeling terrified to write my ending, I felt excited again. Finally.

Lately this blog has been full of words! Stay tuned for my next post, a digital painting. Here’s a preview:

-Lady G

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7 Comments

  1. Oh gosh that’s awful. 😦 I always hate when things don’t save–I can’t think of how many times I’ve been an idiot and forgotten to save 2 hours worth of work on a picture and then had the program freeze on me or something. I actually had a story idea a while back that was so awesome, but I lost all of my notes for it, which completely stalled the process because I couldn’t remember the cool plot I’d envisioned for it! D: So I feel you, girl.
    But I’m glad you’ve found your inspiration again, and you’re getting so close to the finish line of a draft! Looking forward to the blogs about the horrors of editing. x)

    Reply
    • Thanks! I’m actually looking forward to the editing too, I have so many plans to make the existing manuscript better!

      Reply
  2. Matthew

     /  July 31, 2012

    Have you considered using free word processing software? The best I know for Mac is Omm Writer. Clean interface, no distractions, ethereal music.

    Try it out:

    http://www.ommwriter.com/

    Reply
    • Thanks for the tip, Matthew. I downloaded Omm Writer and I really like it; I may use it for short pieces in the future. It’s a bit too limited to to handle my novel manuscript, so I’ll be sticking to Pages for that, but it’s certainly a really nice, appealing interface that makes writing seem like less of a chore.

      Reply
  3. What agony. You are allowed to mourn for those lost words. The ones you find in your heart and head will be all the better, but still. It hurts.

    Moments before reading your post, I finally got my act together and saved MS on a stick. I’m using Scrivener, which I love to this point- though still getting to know- but I’ve been working on a wing and prayer. Do have magical Mac Time Machine in case disaster strikes the Mac, but…

    And now to celebrate – finding your mojo and drawing so close to the end of the first draft! What an amazing feeling. I wish you Godspeed to those final pages.

    Reply
    • I just looked up Scrivener and it looks incredibly useful, but it also looks the teeniest bit complex, and like it would take a few days to figure out! The screenshots look so handy for sorting ideas, though, that I will definitely have to give it a try the next time I am starting a novel from scratch. I’m glad you’re backing up all your hard work; I recently got a new machine and because I am LAZY, I haven’t finished getting all the materials I need off the old time machine backup and setting it up to back up the new machine. I’ve saved the important stuff to Google Drive in the meantime, but with the document I lost I’d left it open for days, and hadn’t actually saved it in all that time (thankfully I remembered to save the manuscript). Lesson learned, I suppose!

      Reply
  1. Let’s Stop Writing Lazy « Grace Makley

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