“So what did you think of my manuscript?”
“It was good.” Jenn smiled at as she took a sip of her coffee. And then, after a pause: “Have you ever heard the term ‘updraft’?”
I shook my head.
“An updraft is a basically a rough first draft, in which the author is just getting ideas onto the page. The term comes from throwing up. As in, you sort of just throw up on to a page. An updraft.” She smiled again.
People do top whatever lists of 2014, I decided to talk about one thing, and today it’s about writing.
I owe Chadwick Ginther, the author of Thunder Road and Tombstone Blues, a huge thanks. At the launch for the first book, I bumped into Chris Rutkowski who invited me back into the writer’s group I once attended in the 90’s. They now had a name,Off The Wall, representing the people and the stories. (We did put together an anthology of Bigfoot stories.) I now know back then I was not ready. This time around, after doing a creative writing class with Chandra Mayor, I felt ready to go back. Keep in mind, Chandra didn’t turn me into a publishing-ready writer, but her experience, and keen editing eye, made me aware of things to watch for in the process. Both instances allowed me to chip away at the block hindering me for so long.
It took six years to finally reach 50,000 words during a NaNoWriMo. The day after, I went down to the Print and Graphic Centre at the college to bind my draft. I needed something physical to set aside for the ‘Now What?’ months next year. I actually read a piece of the work out at the TGIO (Thank God It’s Over) party, and realized holy cow this will need a lot of work. When I wrote my short story for In the Woods, I felt lucky to have Chris edit our work. However, I also noticed I need to work on things like setting, while I do really well with dialogue.
The National Novel Writing Month process confirmed I do have a story to tell. My draft tells me I will have to excavate it. I ran across the entry, the one beginning this post, on the official National Novel Writing Month blog. I discovered a term for the coil bound book on my dining room table. It’s an updraft. I managed to throw up everything, and I mean everything, to clear the block before my inner critic made any more bricks to fortify it. I have not sat down to read it at the moment. I did dust off Scrivener, a writing program, uploaded the draft, and divided the chapters into chunks. In a strange way I look forward to revising this novel.
After years of scattered creation, 2014 began to see things come together. I have the support of a great group of people, and met some more good people through NaNoWriMo. Most of all I have to trust my voice, and make sure it always comes through no matter how scary it feels from time to time to get ‘out there’ as a published writer.