Saturday, September 3, 2011

Apprehension and Swagger

This year I was old enough to sign up for evening classes at the local vo-tech, so I went for the fiction writing class.  I didn't really know what to expect, but I figured even if it didn't cover anything new, it'd still be worthwhile.  Being around other writers, chances to learn new stuff . . . I was pretty excited.

    The first thing the teacher/instructor had us do was describe a character.  Randomly.  Then we had to pick three random character names.  And then write an opening scene.  She stopped everyone after a certain amount of time and have us read what we'd gotten down so far, so it was sort of a "write really fast with no clue where you're going and try to get stopped mid-sentence" sort of thing.

    And it's a blast. 

    What with the time restraints and all, I was just trying to get something down, but it's quickly evolved into something legitimate.  I'm pretty excited about it -- throughout revisions, there hasn't been much raw writing, and I've missed it.  This has definitely shown me that it's not a bad thing to be working on a new project while massively editing something else.  It keeps the writing fresh, you know?

    Anyway, now I bring you this quote from A. M. Rosenthal:

    "If you don't have a sensation of apprehension when you set out to find a story and a swagger when you sit down to write it, you are in the wrong business."

    Well said, Rosenthal.

    Now I'm working on balancing the revising -- priority number one -- and the plotting for the new project, but either way, I'm pretty optimistic about this new project.  The whole apprehension/swagger bit A. M. was talking about, I guess, plus it's still in that happy stage where everything seems simple.

    So what about you?  How do you feel when you start a new project -- and how long does that happy, simple stage last for you before the real work starts?


Rachel Brooks said...

Good luck with revising and plotting! I love starting a new project. I try to only work on projects that I am passionate about, so the happy stage doesn't end for me even during the tough work.

Also, I’m a new follower— awesome blog! Stop by my blog and follow me too? :)

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

I don't know that it ever feels truly simple to me. But definitely, it feels exhilarating during the first draft--well about halfway through the first draft. Then it starts to feel a little complicated, but still exciting. And then I hit the second draft and have an ISUCK moment that lasts for awhile until I hit my stride again, usually about the fifth draft...ha! Seriously, ups and downs all the way through. But ultimately, one of the most satisfying accomplishments.

Good luck with those revisions!

Lynda R Young said...

none of it is simple, but I enjoy all stages (I used to dislike the editing stage but now I love it). I actually think starting a new project is the hardest--deciding which idea to pursue.

Alison Miller said...

I love the feeling of writing something raw and embarking on a new writing journey. I have four stories spinning in my mind and I can't wait for a chance to write them. :)

And the honeymoon period - it depends how long it lasts. Sometimes it's short, sometimes I am on a writing high until I reach The End.
Good luck with your writing!

Kari Marie said...

Starting a new project always leaves me sleep deprived and giddy for the first 20k or so. Rosenthal was right.

Good luck! Have fun.

Jenna Blake Morris said...

Rachel -- That's a good way to look at it. Thanks! I follow your blog already. (:

Carolina -- I'm usually okay for the first draft, but after that, things go downhill for me. Thanks!

Lynda -- I like the point about your hardest part being the one where you choose which concept to run with. For me, the trickiest part is probably plotting -- I'm okay with the major plot points, but other than that, it's definitely not my thing.

Alison -- Four? That's awesome! I guess that happy period just depends on the project. Thanks!

Kari -- The very beginning's always the easiest for me, too. Thanks! You too.

alexia said...

I like to work on a first draft while editing something else - like you said, it keeps your brain fresh. My honeymoon phase usually lasts for the first 15-20k words. But overall, I love writing the first draft, even if I slow down a bit after the initial rush of excitement.

E.R. King said...

I enjoyed the quote! Good luck with balancing the revisions and your new project. It can be tricky, but I'm sure you'll handle it.

Michelle Fayard said...

What a great class and opportunity! I can't wait to hear more about your experiences this semester.

Hmmm, how do new projects make me feel? Sometimes excited, sometimes an adrenaline-filled apprehension wondering I can achieve my goals, sometimes both because, hey, I'm a Pisces. :) The happy part comes in beautiful waves throughout the project, I'm glad to say.

P.S. I'm delighted to be a new follower!

Deana said...

I have always wanted to take one of those classes. I hear you can find some great crit partners that way.
Good luck on your new idea!
As for me and the happy stage. I think it lasts as long as I have the desire to write the story. As soon as that lag kicks in I lose the happy and have to take a break to get those voices talking again. Once they start back up I am in my happy place again. I love that quote btw!

Kelley said...

This is a really great post, and that sounded like an awesome exercise. It makes me want to break out the keyboard and write something without a plan, like I used to do :)

The Golden Eagle said...

I usually feel excited, and a little worried that the idea won't work out at all once I'm deeper in and can see the story evolving.

Great quote. :)

Kyle D. Smith said...

Excitement is a great description. The feeling of an adrenaline rush as words and music flow to form a climax of great quiet, perfect harmony, or energy filled notes. Sometimes the notes are never written out completely because it doesn't matter at the moment. Just feeling the new creation, for a while, is enough.

Anonymous said...

Good luck with your new project.

I'm most excited when I'm outlining and drafting. When I'm drafting, when I hit snags it feels like the real work has started.

Have a great weekend.

Anonymous said...

Ooh, fiction writing - how fun! I'm glad you're enjoying it - it sounds awesome, though I don't think I'd be able to write much under the pressure, LOL. :)

I'm usually super excited when I start a project - I look forward to getting into a new setting, a new plot, and a new cast of characters! - and though sometimes it dies down a bit, on this current project the feeling's lasting! I mean, sometimes I feel like I have to MAKE myself work on it, but a lot of the time I'm just happy to work on it.

Have fun in the writing class! :D

The Story Queen said...

Nice :) I'm the head of my school's Writer's Club and we did almost the exact same thing last year.

I think part of the problem for me is the beginning is always so much fun. There's that rush and the excitement of new characters/plots/settings/etc. Sometimes I don't want to leave that stage!

Good luck with the class and your writing! :) I'm glad you're liking it so far.

Jenna Blake Morris said...

Alexia -- I agree, the first draft's my favorite. I like just getting to write without having to think about revising or editing yet.

E.R. King -- Thank you! Glad you liked the quote -- I did too, when I found it.

Michelle -- I love how you described all the different reactions to new projects! I think you summed it up beautifully. And thanks!

Deana -- Fingers crossed on the CP thing. Thanks! "As soon as that lag kicks in I lose the happy and have to take a break to get those voices talking again" -- same here, and I love how you put that.

Kelley -- Thanks! And that sounds like fun. I hope you get the chance to do that sometime soon. (:

Golden Eagle -- I usually don't feel the worry until revision time (or a possible bout of writer's block), but I definitely understand what you mean.

Kyle -- I'm with you on the excitement bit.

Medeia -- Thanks! Good point about the snags. Next time I hit one, I'll be sure to remember that.

Taylor -- It is! Haha, I'm sure you'd be able to think of something -- sometimes winging it turns out to be the best thing anyway. (; Me too -- especially meeting the new characters. They're usually my favorite aspects of writing. I'm glad your current WIP is working well for you! Best of luck with it.

Story Queen -- A Writer's Club? Your school officially sounds amazing. Beginnings are the same way for me -- unless I'm at the point where I've gone back and rewritten it a million times so it'll start at the right place with the right impact. But the first beginning is always fun, because it always feels like an adventure to me. Thanks!

Christina Farley said...

It is really funny that you mention this. I just talked about that on my blog. I'm actually in the middle of my WIP and it's exciting and scary all at the same time.

Jenna Blake Morris said...

Christina -- That's funny! I think you described it really well -- "exciting and scary all at the same time". It took me a bit to answer to your comment, but I'm still off to check out that that blog post.