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Under (Slightly Less) Pressure

May 22, 2010

The night Wyatt Tobias unexpectedly came into being, I was not particularly happy to be woken up by Important Writerly Thoughts. I would have much preferred to remain in the land of Delightfully Squishy Down Comforters and Bizarrely Realistic Dreams, particularly as Wyatt Tobias was an Unplanned Interloper as opposed to a character I might have actually been excited to hear from. So as I opened my netbook, grumbling all the way, I wasn’t in the mood for my usual I Am A Real Writer antics. I didn’t want to type a title and my name and maybe a dedication and perhaps a few lines of acknowledgments, not like that’s putting the cart before the horse or anything.

(True story: I had to Google that saying to make sure it wasn’t “put the horse before the cart.” Because when you think about it, can’t “before” be used to mean “in front of,” like “before me knelt Robert Downey, Jr., a small jewelry box in his palm,” in which case putting the cart before the horse would actually be rather logical? Perhaps I digress. Mmm, Robert Downey, Jr.)

No, I was crabby and drowsy and wanted to get this silly Working On My Book business over as quickly as possible so I could return to the vastly more important task of Working On My Sleeping. So what did I title my new document? “Take eighteen hundred.” (Only a slight exaggeration.) When I returned to Wyatt Tobias the next morning and opened a second document in which to preserve excised lines, I labeled that one “snip snip.”

And how do these rather ignoble titles help me? They take some of the pressure off. They say, “You’re just playing! Scribbling! Experimenting! This isn’t a book, it’s an assortment of words that might one day be of use to you. STOP EDITING, KATELYN. First drafts are messy, and besides, this is supposed to be FUN.” (Ignoble they may be, but quiet they certainly are not.)

Of course, it’s not like I can actually make myself forget what I’m trying to achieve, and I still find it hard to stop editing as I go and instead just Get Words On The Page. But a few mind tricks certainly never hurt.

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