So I’ve been quiet about Memento Mori for a while now. This has been for two key reasons:

  1.  Memento Mori has been with a crew of wonderful beta-readers these past several weeks.
  2. I want to go into my (hopefully) last round of edits with a fresh mind, so I’ve walked away from it during this time. Hopefully, this will allow me to be objective, and knock the edits out in record time.

This hiatus has afforded me the long-deferred pleasure of working on a whole new project, a sci-fi idea with the working title of Portolan House. It’s an idea I’ve had since college, but only recently discovered what (I think) is the right way to tell the story in my head.

Of course I’m excited about this. And daunted – an inevitable reaction, as I look at the vast ocean of ideas I want to communicate, and the coffee straw (keyboard) I’m trying to siphon it through.

Fortunately, I found a pile of backstory, notes and research that I forgot I’d even done – more than two years ago.

It’s so nice when Past Me delivers the goods to Present Me in a usable format. Of course, it’s quite the pile of backstory and character information, some of which won’t be used in the end. But if this writing journey has taught me, it’s that I have to get through the Vomit Draft to find out – at the very least – what my story is not.


photo source

Which is sort of a weird thing, when you think about it. I think all writers want a Jack Kerouac moment, where paper, time, and story all align (minus the drugs). Then we’d emerge victorious after a three week writing binge (which, as it turns out, didn’t happen exactly that way for Kerouac), to accolades and interviews.

Bottom Line: The Vomit Draft is inevitable. At least, I’ve never met anyone (or read any honest-and-up-front author interviews) who’ve managed to skip that step. Even On the Road had it’s “bumpy road to publication,” according to NPR (and they’re usually right). It really a purge [*points to Hemingway meme*] of sorts, that gets all the unnecessary nonsense out of the way so that the True Story can push through*.

So I’m back to the beginning – not just with Portolan House, by the way, but also with the Memento Mori sequel, which is burbling out into Scrivener in fits and bursts. Not sure shy  I consistently have two major WIPs in process at any given time, but there you are. It’s just the way my brain works. I write till I get stumped with one, then let that one rest while I swing over to the other.

And sooner or later, those first drafts start looking a lot less vomit-y and more hopeful. Like there might be a Real Story in there somewhere. And maybe it will be told (eventually) in the right order, and from the best point of view.

One can hope, anyway. In the meantime, I’ll keep dumping out words and writing every day. It’s the only way to push through the muck and nonsense, after all.

What about you? How many WIPs do you have going at any given time? How do you get through that first rough draft? I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments!

* (Sorry about all the scatelogical analogies. Sometimes they just work best.)