Final Draft Anxiety

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” Write drunk, edit sober.” – Ernest Hemingway

When I found this quote I thought it was brilliant but also backwards. I didn’t need to be drunk writing my first draft, but editing it? I could have used a bottle of wine with that package of highlighters. Now that I am halfway through I added ibuprofen, antacids, and valium to that list.

I shake my head and curse myself when I come across a typo. How did I not see the word ‘the’ was repeated twice? How did I not notice that a few words were misspelled? I have spellcheck for Christ’s sakes!

My favorite part has to be though when you read something, and then edit it, only to realize the first time you wrote it sounds so much better.

There is one emotion though that I did not expect. Anxiety. I found myself experiencing several little panic attacks the first few days. It was so curious and strange. I just went through Hell editing my second draft, why am I feeling this way about my final draft? I breezed through the first, which is infinitely harder, with excited exhaustion. Even my second draft, which I dubbed ” The nightmare that would never end”, I still felt  great joy while I slaved away.

What was going on?

No matter how many breathing exercises I went through I still couldn’t seem to catch my breath. After two days of this I decided a little journey into my mind was in order ( I will admit, I stopped myself from performing the WebMD symptom checker, a fact which I am sure my Doctor is very happy about) After several trips down bumpy brain dirt roads I finally realized something. I was terrified.

I thought about the times when I paint and I show someone my latest piece of artwork. Whenever I get an ” Oh.” I laugh. Gotcha Bitch. You don’t get it and guess what? That’s cool with me because I get it so that’s all that matters. When I throw a dinner party or even a BBQ and one dish, which I love, is hardly touched? Well I guess certain people’s palate’s aren’t as advanced as mine. 

That’s what I tell myself anyway. I try to put up this front that it doesn’t bother me but it does. The small thump you heard was my heart breaking a little bit. You see, all these things, are tied together. When you put so much of yourself into something and it gets rejected, it stings.

This book though was more than just a reflection of me. This book is my thoughts. It’s my story. A story that I dreamed up for two years. Instead of painting or cooking, my feelings, are now what I am laying out there. These are my words for the whole world to read. This book is so much more to me than just some story I wrote. This book, at it’s core, is about me. What would I do? What would I say? What are people going to think when they read this? If they hate it, will that mean they are rejecting me in some way?

Here’s the results of my little self help therapy session. No matter what you do, not everyone is going to like or support it, you can’t please every single person. You can’t go back in time and change how you did things. Deal with it and move forward. Lastly, I wrote an awesome book. I love it. It’s everything I want in a story and if 99% of people hate it, then so be it.

All it takes is one person to love your book and that’s you.

So I am going to continue on and finish. When I hit the publish button I know there will be some residual anxiety but I think I now have something else. Pride.

Now where the f*ck is my valium?

* Sorry had to throw in a f-bomb just for Mother. I’m sure her tears after reading this have now been replaced with the shaking of her head and rolling of her eyes.*

About Me…

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So one of my best friends and I are both writing books. It’s amazing how two people who have known each other over twenty years discover their dreams at the same time. I am horribly proud of her and I am grateful to be going through this whole process with someone. While Jen is writing wonderfully poetic and adorable children’s stories. I am embroiled into the paranormal world of witches, vampires, and fairies. She is brainstorming on creating a fantastical world for young minds, I am pondering if I threw in too many F-bombs in book one and am brushing up on some erotic mommy porn for book two. 

Apples and oranges, right? They may be different but in the end their fruit.

I received an email last night. An S.O.S. for help. Please assist me in writing my authors bio. Since I was just writing down some thoughts of my own for mine I thought no problem.

Here’s the thing, how in the hell do I write about myself, in the third person, with just a few small, attention grabbing paragraphs?

I came up with this:

Shannon Barczak lives in the great state of Maine with her husband,three children and overly friendly dog named Ruby.

When she is not staying up late dreaming of crazy plots she enjoys cooking, baking and dabbling in painting.

Visit her website at www. shannonbarczakbooks.com day or night and see what she is up too.

 

*Sigh*

What I really want to write is:

Shannon Barczak lives in her home state of Maine with her husband, who is like her fourth child, 14 year old hormone fueled twin boys, a 7 year old daughter who thinks she is truly a princess, and a dog named Ruby who is so inappropriately friendly it’s almost embarrassing.

When she is not cooking, baking, doing endless loads of laundry, and cleaning she enjoys dreaming up crazy stories all while listening to her iPOD on the highest decibel level possible. Her other hobbies include painting completely insane abstract paintings that most people don’t understand, swearing like a sailor when her children aren’t around ( ok, sometimes they are) and reading several books at the same time.

 

I’m thinking of going with number two because that is what’s real. I am not starting this journey on falsehoods and phoniness.

If some snotty big time publisher or literary agent scoffs at the bio, then get the f*ck over it and move on.

I’m just not that kind of girl.

 

 

 

The nightmare that was my second draft

The morning I finished my first draft I sat at my desk and stared at my computer screen in shock. I had done it. I had written a first draft of my book. I texted the few people who knew about it and proceeded to walk around my house aimlessly for the rest of the day. After the high of writing my book I was now faced with the question of now what?

I scoured other writers blogs for the answer. Take a week or two off seemed to be the general consensus. But how? How was I supposed to do that? I needed to get right back into the thick of it. The story and that of the next two was fresh in my mind. I had to get going.

So I sat down and read through my masterpiece only to realize it was a piece alright..a piece of crap. The story was there but the grammar and repetitive  words flashed before me and in doing so a cloud of doubt hung over my head like a cartoon.

My cousin told me not to focus too much on my second draft. That’s what copy editors are for she said. Alright, I can look beyond it. All I have to do is make sure my story is the best it can be and then I will send it off to some stranger to rip it apart. Gulp.

I decided to do a little research and found a lovely little pro writing editing site. I copied my prologue in, pushed the analyze button, and proceeded to have my whole body deflate when the report came back. 7 overused words, 23 grammar and spelling mistakes, 41 diction mistakes, and so forth.

Holy F*ck! Really? How in God’s name did I use the word was 24 times? And how am I supposed to fix that!!

Deep breath in and off to work I went it. All 25 chapters. 308 pages. 95,454 words.

I will admit, when I got a small report back, I did a little booty dance in my chair. When I got back a lengthy report I swore. Excessively.

Fundamentally though it was the right thing to do. Now I wish I would have taken the time to edit each chapter as I went along with my first draft. Lesson learned. I did take great pleasure in adding and changing the story up a bit. I have an amazing friend who read the story and offered me wonderful critiques and suggestions.

I was grateful for my friend and my mother. They both gave me fantastic support. Unfortunately for them I was going to need them now more than ever.

Apparently a copy editor charges $7 a page or $40 an hour. I completely understand their rates. It’s a tough job. But for a stay at home Mom of three with Christmas coming up I had the devastating realization that I may not be able to afford a copy editor.

Oh my gosh. My dream is over before it even started. How the hell am I supposed to edit this book by myself? How am I supposed to make people love this story and want to read it with a million typos? Can I really do this?

 

 

To be continued..

The First Draft

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I will be 100% honest. I didn’t really have a hard time writing my first draft. What I had a hard time with was actually convincing myself to sit down and start writing. I decided one afternoon I was just going to write out my thoughts in my trusty black and white composition notebook and  see where that took me.

I wrote a quick synopsis and then proceeded with my chapter outlines. After that I did research and then I was ready. I think the prologue was the most difficult to write. A part of me wishes I did that after I was done but another part of me was glad I did it beforehand. I think I not only set the scene for the reader but also myself.

The first few chapters flowed pretty well but then I got to chapter four, otherwise known as in my mind, ‘The Big Reveal ‘.

It is probably the most complicated chapter in the book. Funny enough though, it’s the chapter that was to me the most emotional and fulfilling part of my journey. I wrote it out in record time. An hour and half I sat and typed away furiously. When I was done and read through everything I had written, I went from ” I can’t do this” to ” I can do this”.

It’s really quite amazing isn’t it? How you drop an apostrophe and one little letter and your whole life changes. I actually started crying when I was done for a few reasons. 1) It was really late at night and I was emotional exhausted and 2) That was the moment I started to believe in myself and my story.

One of the things I didn’t expect was how all consuming this was turning out to be. For two months I lived and breathed this book. When I wasn’t writing my mind would drift off to the story and the characters. I became obsessed but didn’t care because I had to get this out of my mind and formed into words.

My Mom, who was staying with us for several weeks, kept telling me to take the day off and relax. I laughed when she suggested this. How could I turn away from the most important work I had ever done in my life? I decided right away not to worry about spelling or grammar. It’s a first draft, it’s not going to be perfect. Instead I tried to focus on getting the bare bones of my story written out.

I wrote it in two months and at the end I wept. I had never been so proud of myself. If people hate it or laugh I don’t care because I think it’s awesome.

After the initial bliss wore off I decided to ignore the advice of most writers who tell you to walk away from it for a week or two. No, not me, I started editing my first draft right away.

Why, oh why, do I not listen to people more skilled and experienced than me?

 

 

 

 

 

The Beginning

After twenty years I have finally plucked up the courage to write a book.

There I said it.

I feel like it has been this little secret I have been carrying around for the past few months. It’s like when you find out your pregnant. You want to shout it to the world but you also like the idea of keeping this monumental news to yourself. My family, of course knows, and a few close friends but that’s it. I think it shocked everyone that I did this all on my own. That I actually sat down and created this whole story in my head.

You see I’m not an Ivy League graduate or some trust fund baby with unlimited funds or time. I’m just a normal stay at home Mom. I had a normal childhood. I met my husband when I was almost nineteen and five years later we were married with twins on the way. Throw in another kid and there you go. I have always been somewhat creative though. When I started painting fifteen years ago I thought I had filled the creative void that echoed inside of me.

I also decided to explore my other passion, which is cooking and baking, but that still wasn’t enough. I have been a an avid reader all my life. I used to go so far when I was high school to hide my books when my friends came over to hang out. I didn’t want to be known as some book geek. I suppose I wasn’t comfortable enough in myself to admit that.

I would write short stories and throw them away or put them in my hope chest. When I was twenty I sat down to write a book and didn’t finish it. I just never believed in myself enough. I never really thought that I could actually do it.

As I got older I thought my lot in life was sealed. The wife and mother hat sat firmly on my head. It is a hat that I am proud to wear but at some point when your kids are all in school you start to ask yourself, Is this it? Even though I love my time home with my kids more than anything I felt like I was stuck in a rut.

After reading dozens and dozens of paranormal romance books I was so over it. They were all a knock off of Twilight and honestly, while I thought it was a cute book, it was still a book for young people. I wanted a book for adults. A book that had a more realistic take on this genre. A book that you identified with completely. Characters that you could relate too.

Two years ago I thought of a story, actually two but we’ll get to that later, and so my book journey began…

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