…two to go.
I don’t like having multiple zero drafts in progress. (Zeros are the drafts before the first draft–they’re the bare bones, messy, not-fit-for-anyone-to-see drafts. Mine often have notes like [finish this] or [figure this out]. First drafts are where all that stuff is fixed, I’ve done an initial round of revision, and it’s ready for a content editor to see.) Every part of writing–from initially conceptualizing a book to drafting to revising to editing to proofing–uses different muscles in the brain. Having a zero in progress while revising and/or editing another book or two tends to be ideal for me because I get a more balanced workout, I suppose you could say, and am less likely to burn out (same reason why, with freelancing, I try to keep a balance between editing, covers, and formatting–all different muscles).
Having three major ones in progress competing for attention has not been my preferred situation, but it was one I found myself in, as Yampellec’s Idol revisions ate up the bulk of my time from December through April of this year and it was the only thing I could really concentrate on. With it finally out the door, I had some initial revisions on Season of the Bitch, then I was left with a pile of zeros I had to tackle.
After nearly two months of switching between each–and I think it’s about 65K words total?–Witch Hunt took over as I neared its end and I finished it last night. I need to back fill two scenes and figure out wtf with the ending (I am about 90% sure it makes no sense since I did not plan some things) but the bare bones are there to start arranging and working with. Between the needed additional scenes and that it probably needs more than dialogue and stage direction, I’m expecting the first draft to bump up about 10K.
Usually I fall into the camp of “you can’t revise a blank page”–that the most important thing is to get something written so you can add on, delete, or revise later.
Occasionally, though, that is not the case. Starting prematurely, when you’re not 100% sure what the book wants to be, can be worse than a blank page for me. That’s rare but it was the case with another zero in progress, which I’ve picked at for years before saying fuck it and gutting it, removing some of the original bones entirely. I think it’s working better now but we’ll see if I ever get it done.
My health is also…not ideal at this time. Not as bad as it was a couple of months ago, but the bouts of pain are about ten times more intense a lot of the time, and my anxiety spiraled yesterday as I’ve got all the symptoms but one of “This is extremely bad and an emergency now”. Appointment next week to get a new health card so I can see a doctor, but with COVID backing things up, I’m not sure when I’ll be able to get a much needed MRI and, quite probably, surgery. I dealt with said anxiety (“What if [thing] happens and I’m rushed to the hospital or I die”) by getting some contingencies in place for the care of my animals and ensuring info is available for EMTs if I’m incapacitated.
I would like to stress, again, I am not in that place yet–that might be even a year down the road without treatment–but that doesn’t stop the panic attacks at the mere thought, and the only way to stop worrying was to have some preparations done.
The low-grade depression I’ve been dealing with since coming off steroids has finally seemed to abate a bit. It was weird, because I had the usual “I don’t know how to write, I should close up shop and delete my website and go became the ancient hag haunting the forest in the Yukon” and struggled to write, but depression for me has also always come with the brain demons telling me I’m a burden and everyone would be better off without me.
I…don’t have that anymore? I get the low feelings but I don’t usually sink into a negative thought spiral. So, more than anything, this depression has just been annoying. I am annoyed with the low energy. I am annoyed with the executive dysfunction. I am annoyed when I want to sit and cry all day. Like FFS I do not have time for this shit.
I don’t think it’s totally gone now but finishing a zero draft–just those last 10K words, even, as everything is coming together and you’re nearly done–is a pretty good dopamine hit and has helped a lot.
It would be nice to follow it up with another zero finishing in the fall, but we’ll see.