Monday, August 15, 2011

Vacation, All I Ever Wanted

I finished the first draft of my WIP last week.

*throws confetti*

Uh-huh. It's done. My story has an official beginning, middle, and end, with lots of crazy character arcs and way too many subplots. So, don’t get too excited for me, peeps. It’s rough. And by rough, I mean sandpaper, Brillo Pad ROUGH. Scraggy, craggy, and beyond jagged. I need to replot the darn thing (again), cut a, um…lot of words, and kill entire scenes. But, I see glints of a diamond in that rough somewhere. I do. I really do.

And I want to find it RIGHT NOW.

As soon as I finished last Tuesday, I wanted to dive right into revisions. Rewrite the four scenes leading up to the ending. Fix my beat sheet, kill off some darlin’s and add stuff I know needs to be in there.

But I resisted the temptation to boot up my netbook. Why?

Because I need a vacation from my baby.


It’s all I wanted, really. All I could think about for three weeks was how close I was to finishing. And how much I wanted to finish, just so it would be done. I saw a glimmer of light, then a profound ray, then WHAM—I was on the other side of the tunnel. I was done. And I could take a break.


But do I ever really separate myself from my work? Am I ever truly on vacation?

Physically, yes. Mentally, not so much.

Since I wrote The End and shut down the netbook, I've plotted the demise of a character, made life more heart-wrenching for another. I've been hit with new ideas for scenes I've not physically penned and mentally sing (trust me, you don't want me to do this aloud) every song from my WIP's playlist. Quotes and new bits of dialogue zap me while I'm driving. While I'm sleeping. And with the onset of football (a major plot point in my story), I don't know that my brain will ever really take a vacation.

But that's okay. Because it's not really me working.

It's my subconscious.

This is how I used to be with my day job. From the middle of August to the middle of June, I’m immersed in school—teaching math by day, tutoring in the afternoons. Sometimes it’s exhilarating; other times, frustrating. And in May, as close as the end is, those last few weeks are tortuous and tiring. I’m sick of the job. I’m sick of my kids. And June 10 can never get here fast enough. Vacation is all I ever wanted.

And then it happens. I try to relax, but I can’t stop thinking about school. I miss my colleagues. I want to sign up for a katrillion workshops. I wonder what my kids are up to. New ideas for activities, games and projects hit me at all hours of the day. And night. I even dream about my classroom. Several times.

But that’s my subconscious at work. It’s over the summer that some of my best ideas take form, I reflect on what worked and what didn't, and I get excited about seeing my babies again.

And for similar reasons, I need time away from my WIP so that Mr. Subconscious can kick into high gear.

Furloughs from the WIP are an essential part of the process—a chance to let your brain breathe. They're an opportunity for reflection, employment for your all too willing subconscious. And a way to get rejuvenated about your story and your babies.

So, I’m taking a vacation…for a little while. I’m reading (A LOT), catching up on critiques, playing with my blog, and attending a writer's conference. Maybe I’ll write a flash fiction or two. And when my subconscious has a zapifining moment, I’ll jot that little thought on a post-it and stick it in my handy-dandy WIP folder.

And when the vacation’s over, I’ll dive heart-first into my WIP, exhilarated, rejuvenated, ready to enrich my script. I’ll replot, connect the dots on character bubble maps, and cut cringe-worthy scenes. My diamond’s in that rough somewhere, and I'll find it. I will, I will.

So, yes! Bring on the vacay. Let me bask in some R&R—Reflection and Rejuvenation.

And let me subconsciously dig for that diamond in the rough.

How about you? Anything YOU need to break from today?


  1. Congrats on hitting The End! That's such a good feeling!

    And yay to a break from it. I know it can be hard, but I think it's so important. Distance is the only way to gain perspective.

  2. Congrats on finishing! Now the fun part begins

  3. Congrats on typing THE END! Enjoy your break. See you around WriteOnCon!

  4. Love the new blog look! Such a fun font!

    Congrats again on finishing your first draft... Surely that's the hardest part, right? :)

    Good for you for taking a nice long vacation. I always feel so much more motivated and refreshed when I've ignored a WIP for a good several weeks before tackling revisions.

    I'm just going to throw this out there: I'm sure you already have awesome CPs and betas, but if you're ever needing another set of eyes, I'd be happy to read for you. Just let me know!

  5. I've got 5 or 6 more chapters to rewrite on Secondhand Shoes. Sept. 3, I'll beleaving it behind until Sept. 15th. When I get back, I'll hand it to my editor. Right now, I could use a break from the salon and my routine life.

  6. Congrats on finishing! Woot!
    I'm trying to take a vacation before digging into my new WIP, as my old WIP is done, done, done. I wanted to spend the rest of August with my butt not in chair. But I'm still thinking about my WIP all the time. I think it's okay to let your mind go there during breaks. :)

  7. Yay for finishing your draft! :-)

    I agree...a vacation is a good idea. You never know what will pop into your brain when you aren't thinking about it!

  8. i finished my own draft a couple weeks back and am on a break from it, letting Mr. Subconscious do the work for a while. Mr. Subconscious is actually pretty awesome, because even though I'm not writing down anything, I am thinking of ways to improve the draft, so there. :)

  9. Yay, congrats on finishing. And yes, let yourself take a break. Your story will be the better for it! I've done the same thing, tho after almost 7 weeks, I'm READY to get back to my novel. :)

  10. Thanks everyone! Yes, agreed - breaks are mucho important. The teacher in me knows this all too well!

    And Katy, will be emailing you! Thanks!

  11. Congratulations! That is super... and it sounds like you have a lot of exciting ideas left to implement. Yay!

  12. Congrats on finishing your first draft, Alison! And I hear you on the benefits of taking a break. It's sooo important! Beyond giving you some much-needed distance, I think it helps prevent burnout too.

    You've scheduled some celebrating in your vacay, riiiiight? Although it might not be proven to help make your 2nd draft ROCK, I *feel* as though it's essential. :)


Yay! I LOVE comments!