“I’m getting a tattoo on my left butt cheek, a skull and crossbones. What do you think?
“I’m going to hang out with the biker dudes at Lefty’s Bar, wear skanky clothes, drink beers. OK?”
“What? You’re talking to a strange lady with a tattoo of a bike and a beer on her butt?” I say.
I know she wants something, to remind me of a promise I made …? I can’t remember. Oh yes, food. Children need to eat. Why? Mine are old enough to own cell phones and operate heavy machinery, which means they are capable of opening a frozen pizza box and turning on the oven. They have expectations of me. I concede the mother’s job description entails meal provisioning, but the writer’s doesn’t.
I’ve crossed the great divide of the first draft and hit sixty-five thousand words. I am rounding the curve toward the end. The climax is looming, the bottom will fall out shortly after, followed by the build up towards the coveted words: THE END.
The swirl of the WIP’s words has me hostage. They clank and bang around me. They sound similar to pot and pans tumbling out of an over stuffed kitchen cupboard when they crash on a title floor. I want out of the center. I want the silence felt when standing at the edge of Grand Canyon, a deserted beach, or in my kitchen at dawn.
There isn’t a available seat in my mind. Between the characters, the filled pages, and the words waiting to make their appearance on the page, I struggle to find a closet to hide in or time to consider the fuzz in my navel (should I have fuzz or a navel worth considering). I yearn for silence. I’d like an hour maybe twenty-four, to think about anything except the first draft of the WIP.
But I can’t anymore than I can stop thinking about the next phase, the redraft. I tell myself, finish the damn draft before you start thinking about the redraft. But I can’t do that either. It’s a mental condition. This is my second WIP but it’s the first time I’ve fast drafted. It’s not for the faint of heart or anyone with a demanding life (face it, that’s all of us who live the writing life). The fast draft reminds me of the ‘I’ in ‘Me’. There is only the story. It’s all about the story. There is nothing else. You commit yourself to the story once the first line takes shape. Mine is currently:
“Bronco Bill died today. The service is next Saturday. Do you think you can come?” Cha-cha asks.
The last couple of lines written late last night before the Macbook feigned tiredness:
“You have more secrets, don’t you.” Lucille asks.
“I do, but they’re not mine to tell. Turn up the tunes, blast me some Patsy Cline, I’m feeling her rumbling up inside of me.”
I’ve another thirty thousand plus words before I type the last line, or even consider the redraft, the revision of the redraft, and finally editing of the revision. STOP! STOP! STOP!
My posture sags. Breathing in early morning energy, I sprint for the closet I keep hidden from the characters, the WIP next steps, and life. Once inside I shut and lock the door behind me. My back flat against the door I swallow in the cool, dark quiet, and slide down the door until my bum hits the floor.
It’s the only place I can escape from the manic state of the creative process and the blood rush of fast drafting. The fast draft has it’s pluses, the minus are clear. It requires establishing a daily word count and a near term end date (assuming there is some advance story planning) a commitment not unlike a relationship, and the sacrifice of time.
Is it worth it?
“I know, I know, you’re hungry. I’m on it. ”
“We ate lunch already.”
“You did. What do you want then?”
“To tell you I love you, even though you’re a strange lady. What’s for dinner?”
Is it madness, this quest to write the words we write?