Friday, July 9, 2010

It's okay to laugh at the dog.

Write. 500. 1000. Word count. Clock on. Clock off.
Next day.
Same again.
Write. 500. 1000. Clock on. Clock off.

First month of new book. Excitement. Clap hands. Type madly.
Think about beginning. Hook? Do you have one? Is your opening to die for? Should anyone be dying? Why is someone dying in the first sentence then?
What about the 'it' factor? Is there enough magic there to grab readers, agents and book contracts alike?
Delete first sentence.
Re-write first sentence.
Re-read first sentence.
Decide you will come back to the first sentence when you have finished the book.
You'll be a better writer then.

Second month of not so new book. Still smiling. Still typing. Not so madly.
Think about characters.
Do you love them? Should you love them? Will the reader love them?
Decide they suck.
Rewrite pragmatist.
Sprinkle spice and happiness through opening scenes. Re-write dialogue. Show, don't tell.
Re-read opening scenes.
Delete dialogue. Delete attempts at show, don't tell.
Lastly, delete spice and happiness.
Decide you have written a horror.
You were aiming for YA paranormal romance.
Delete opening scenes.
Decide to come back to opening scenes after you have written the middle. At least you know where that is going.

Fifth month of writing book. Smiling. Just. Typing. Just.
Write middle. Read middle.
Middle sags. Big. Time.
Nothing is happening. You were so sure something would happen. But your characters are out of control running amok and completely spoiling the pacing and tone of your book.
Or is that you? Damn! You suspect it is you.
Delete middle.
Rewrite without any adjectives and adverbs. Okay, who are you kidding. Re-write with less adjectives and adverbs. Up the drama. Up the tension. Think of scenes in terms of a play. Everything should be building. Give the main character more to fight for. Or should that be less to fight against? Who is fighting again? What is the focus of this book? What is at steak here?
Steak? When did you last eat? It is 2 am in the morning. Did you have dinner? You don't remember.
Decide to write the ending. Endings have always been your strong point.

Sixth month of writing dog tired book. Why do you want to write anyway? 
Write ending. Read ending. Cry. Bang head against desk, and cry. Plot elements required to arrive at this ending are impossible, implausible and improper. Implode. More tears. Ending is not subtle. Not refreshing. Not satisfying. Not original. Not you.
Finger hoovers over delete key.
Decide entire writing thing sucks. Decide you suck. Decide...
Incoming email.

Check email.
Friend sent you picture of ridiculous dog.
Look at dog.
Feel.. better? Maybe.
Laugh some more.
Dog really is stupid. Not particularly funny. Maybe you are tired?
Laugh until your sides hurt and you threaten to wake sleeping household.
Decide to go to bed.
Decide to re-read book next week.
Decide Rome wasn't built in a day.
Decide it is okay to laugh at silly dog.

Thank god for silly dogs.

What about you? Laughed at any dogs lately?


  1. The dog looks so cute... :)
    Nice post. Short and to the point...

  2. Very cute, Tab!! And yes, we all need those "dogs" to laugh at, to keep our sanity, and keep us from getting overwhelmed at the process of writing--which as you put it--can be so entirely overwhelming at times!

  3. ah the old laugh at the dog ploy when the writing self is a wounded bird lying in the bottom of the cage! Step away from your manuscript and go play in the water and the sun or at least one for exactly three hours and 12 minutes. Then come back, read wip until you get to agonizing part - go back three pages and write as if you hadn't written the rest of it yet. Repeat until done.
    Well, it's worth a try and if you try it and it works then I'll try it. I can't do everything around here. jeesh.

  4. Step 1. Write. Don't look back. Don't edit. Don't read what you have written. Don't question. Write and write and write until you get to the end. Step 2. Now worry about the editing...and post a picture of a silly dog where you can see it every living minute of the day. :)

  5. Dogs have the power to solve all world problems. Well, maybe not quite, but I so get it how they cheer us when we are having those weird insecure moments.
    ~ Wendy

  6. Yes, I agree Wendy and Liza. Dogs ROCK!

  7. Oh, Tabitha, I'm in a room right now with two silly granddogs!
    What a GREAT post! Somehow dogs put the right spin on this crazy world.

    LOVE the way you broke out the phases and stages of a new book.
    I'm WAAAY behind you--sigh. It takes me FOREVER to pound out a book.

  8. LOL, my dog laughs at ME, because he knows I am his servant.

    I don't write novels, but when I am writing a short story, I do the whole self-starvation thing. I won't stop to eat, answer the phone, or even to go pee unless I absolutely have to.

    My dog demands more dog characters. He says all the poems and stories would be better with more dogs in them. ;-)

  9. Oh man, where would I be without laughing at dogs? I wouldn't have much of a blog for a start off! I'd quite like another entry, for what to do when you're rewriting for the fourth time and have decided you're either a) bat crazy or b) a complete talentless nincompoop who should be banned from laptops forever.

    Maybe I'll just go laugh at my dogs. :D

  10. Glad you have cute interruptions to keep you chipper through the process..... :O)

  11. I love dogs and this one looked so cute.
    Loved the post.


  12. Oh, yes! This is right on. And of course I laughed at a dog picture today. :)

    Have a great weekend!

  13. Yes, what we do without the dog to laugh at.

  14. Oh, I love this. When I get stuck I sit by my neighbor's chicken coop and listen to the foolish hens.

  15. Wonderful post--thanks for doing that anguish/imploding/crying thingie on purpose so I don't feel so alone. I looked at part of my newest ms last night and sighed. I almost did a post titled, "My writing is crap," but I'm a pw, so that might not work.

    At least your writing isn't a dog. You are gifted. And funny.

  16. SO TRUE! I'm in the middle of my WIP already wondering what the heck I'm doing here. I'm almost ready to start reediting it (as I write) just to give me hope that this really is a great novel. It might take a lot of convincing.

  17. Haha this sounds SO familiar! You love it, you're've fallen. STUPID PLOTHOLES! But hooray for ideas, creativity, finishing, and ability to go back an fix :-)

  18. Not enough has been made of things that make us laugh.

  19. Writing definitely is a process... of the emotions we go through, of our ego's rise and fall, and of the techniques we use to weave our way from beginning to end - all which make it virtually impossible to judge our own work objectively. Thank goodness for editors!

  20. Sometimes--especially after all that--we need a laugh. Silly dog or no. ;)

  21. Oh, he looks like Mr. Peabody... cartoon intellect of my youth. Thanks for the wonderful memory of that worldly dog!

  22. This is great. I like how you give a real insider's view into the process. The struggles. The first month is so me right now with this short story I'm wrestling with. Magic, it factor, Hook, you name it.

  23. Thanks for the comments everyone. I hope we all spend some time this weekend laughing at one dog at least. :)

  24. This is so cute! I love how puzzled and earnest he looks in those big goggle glasses :) It's always good to have a laugh when frustration abounds, which it inevitably will during the writing of a book.

  25. Great! Well done. Silly dogs save the day. I especially laughed at the line "decide you've written a horror." Yikes! Enjoy the journey!

  26. My dog mocks me. I wish I could see that cartoon caption of a cloud above people's heads when they are thinking. My dog must be pondering some comical stuff when he watched us humans.

    Stephen Tremp

  27. The dog is funny, but the post is funnier...and so true. Does that make me warped that I laugh at things that are so painfully true?

  28. I'm laughing at your great writing and the universality of this piece. I sense a shift in your writing these days, one that offers a strength and hope and humor about everything. So proud of you.

  29. Awww. This post cheered me up :]. Thanks!

  30. I love the humor in this post, which is vital to have and nurture while writing. It shows on all levels when you lose it...

    I think my current ms is 5+ years in the making. Which, is marathonish but more manageable than a sprint. With 4 kids & a life away from the computer (erm, most days), that's just the way it is and will have to be.

  31. This was good enough I was forced to tweet it. Excellent, good lady. Just perfect.