Day 3, 4, & 5 – 9K Words and the Power of the Dare

Yeah, I know. Supposed to be daily updates. I get it.

Bottom line: things are going pretty much as they need to. As expected, on Thursday I lost half a day to a doctor’s appointment, then took care of errands Friday (yesterday afternoon) before having a great conversation with Lisa (the friend/writer who is Daring with me!), wherein we compared progress and generally chatted about writer-like stuff.

Today, I managed a pretty full day of word creation—and as a result, admit I’ve grown a bit brain dead.

All total, I’m up to about nine thousand words—and given I’ll probably drop a few more this afternoon, I may crest 10,000. (*) The first three chapters are in the bag, and I’ve glimpsed at least enough of the overall framework of the world that’s driving the core of the story to plow on. I put it that way because I’m still letting the situation settle, and I’m pretty much 100% sure that there are things happening here that even I’m not fully aware of. My guess is I’ve got bits of about five other chapters partially written, but to be honest I’m not yet sure where they go. With tomorrow fairly well open, I’m kid of hoping for another big day on the progress-o-meter, then maybe I’ll know more.

(* it strikes me that I need to make one of those spiffy graphs to chart my progress. Sheesh…rookie mistake?)

Regardless, I’m enjoying getting the feel of things.

There are things happening in the big-bad world that are working in ways my workaday heroes don’t really understand. Entertaining mayhem is beginning to ensue. At its core, of course, is baseball and our character’s relationship with the game—which is part of the fun of these stories. As usual with them, I’m writing the story around the environment of a computer-based “fake baseball” environment I play in, which gives me a second level of joy as I dip into it for certain bits of authenticity.

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One thing Lisa and I talked about on Friday afternoon was how this shared format of Daring together has helped us through the years.

The fact is that, as far as I can tell, every book is different. I know I’m going to struggle at points as I write this thing. For example, though I don’t really feel this, I could say I’m struggling right now—mostly just in trying to find that last little dip in to to dig down deep enough to be able to just hit the accelerator and fly. It’s very, very close. If I hit it tomorrow my guess is I’ll be at 18K words or so by the end of the day. That’s kind of how it works.

In the earliest days, before either of us had really gotten use do writing book length stuff, I’d say we were really just learning how to deal with the emotional aspect of the process, learning how to just plow through things to get to the core of storytelling. In those days, seeing Lisa’s process unfold out in public was a benefit purely because it said I wasn’t totally insane about my own neurosis regarding getting stuck. Writing into the dark like this requires a bit of a devil-may-care approach at these times, and when you’re new—but serious—that feels like you’re covering up for “accepting” the act of writing pure shit. Do that enough, and it fans the flames of the raging imposter syndrome that always lies just under the skin of most every writer.

There’s some of that happening today, too.

Yes, seriously.

As I said, every book is different, and the fact is they come as they come. Just because you figured out how to write the last one doesn’t mean you know how to write this one. That’s half the fun, really, but it’s also half the angst. What if I can’t figure this story out?” even some of the most established writers will say to themselves. What if I’ve lost it?

This is clearly fresh on my mind because I’m still trying to find a few right elements of the final book in my Stealing the Sun series. I mean, it’s kind of kicking my butt. I know I’ll get it eventually. But, seriously…

Anyway, the point here is that Daring alongside Lisa as I’ve done several times now, has always had an element of support inherent in it, and that support is important even after you’ve done it more than a few times.

See if you can find it here, okay?

The fact is that when we’re writing in tandem this way, I see that Lisa struggles, too, and in those moments that she’s struggling and doubting herself, I just smile to myself. I know Lisa, after all. I know she’s a professional, and I know she’s good. I trust her to finish, and I’m certain that what she finishes will be good. So watching her flounder around at certain points of the month is like watching a movie. I know it’s going to have a good ending, so, since I’m detached from her angst, I can anticipate the joy I’ll feel when she eventually slays the book-o-beast that I’m going to get to read.

And the fact is this, too.

When I’m struggling, I can then twist this logic to help myself.

I’m pretty sure, you see, that she thinks the same thing about me. She knows I’m going to finish, even at those moments when I’m not very sure of it myself. It’s a very symbiotic thing, really. There’s a synergy there that can keep me working in a way that’s deeper than purely feeling a “deadline” for posting word counts.

We’ve grown through most of our stages with a degree of lockstep. Went to conventions. Did workshops. Broke into short story markets. Blah, blah, blah. In other words, we’ve been doing these Dares together for a very, very long time. We share a lot when it comes to viewpoints about what writing means, and what it means to be a writer. But, and perhaps more important, inherent in everything I’ve just said is that for a very, very long time, we’ve respected each other’s work ethic—respected each other’s dedication to what it means to be a writer. I don’t think Lisa would agree to write with me this way for very long if she didn’t trust me to pace her, you know?

There’s some serious power in that kind of faith.

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You can also follow Lisa’s progress here.

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Posted in Daily Writing, Dare to be Bad.

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