There are no signposts. Only zombies.

zombiesSo we’re talking about finishing a draft this week. This is a great topic for me to think about considering how I’m not finished with a complete draft of novel #2. Nope. Nopety nope nope. Not finished at all. People ask me all the time how far along I am with it. I couldn’t tell you. I don’t write linearly. I write where I feel the heat. Unfortunately, that heat hasn’t been at the beginning of the novel lately. Sigh. The truth is that right now I’m on a plane, flying across the country to another book festival. I’m terrifically excited about the festival, especially because I’ll get to meet former Deb Lori Rader-Day! But I’m also tired. I’m cranky. I’m completely void of any wisdom. But here’s my best shot.

Try to find the joy. I started over book #2 when my agent read the first few chapters and said to me, “There’s definitely a novel here, but it reads like you’re writing homework. You’re not enjoying this.” She was right. I was writing what I thought people wanted, not what I wanted to write. So I picked the one character in that draft that I truly loved and started over with her. Now I find myself laughing when I write sometimes. I’m even playful. I’ve shed a few tears. It feels really good to care this much and find the joy in the story I’m telling. There are no signposts to a first draft, so all you have is the joy to show you the way. (Like my dogs do!)

Defend your writing time. I’ve started thinking of my writing time as the time of day when the zombies will attack and writing is the only thing that will keep them at bay. So hold off the zombie apocalypse, people. The survival of humanity is dependent on you getting those words on a page.

If you’re already published, don’t let promotion of your book consume you. I’ve been absolutely guilty of this. I worked in high tech for 25 years. “Moving the needle” is in my DNA. I’ll go to anything I’m invited to, and it’s always a good time! So why sit at home alone and beat my head on the desk in frustration when I’ve got rooms of people waiting to tell me how much they liked my book? The answer, my friends, is because their next question is when is the next one coming out.

Commit. I know commit is a transitive verb that requires an object. I can hear you all out there screaming, “Commit what? Commit to what?” Come on. Y’all know what I’m talking about. Commit to your career as a writer. Commit to being a better writer. Commit to the work. Because as Tom Hanks said in A League of Their Own, “If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.”

That’s it kids. That’s all I have. They’ve turned the lights out on the plane and I’m going to try to get some sleep, because I have to get up early tomorrow to work on that draft.

Author: Shelly King

Shelly is the author of THE MOMENT OF EVERYTHING, story of love and books in Silicon Valley. She lives in the Santa Cruz Mountains with her husband, two big dogs, and a disapproving cat.

3 Replies to “There are no signposts. Only zombies.”

  1. “There’s definitely a novel here, but it reads like you’re writing homework. You’re not enjoying this.” <+ We've all had THIS moment, Shelly! I've dumped 20k because of this, and rewritten chapter one many, many times trying to "enjoy" the work. Because it should be enjoyable, otherwise, why bother? Good luck with the drafting. Hope the heat finds you soon...

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