BATHTUB SIN RECIPE
1 Party Bottom
Mix with copious amounts of beer. Shake well. Run.
Watrspout is my first completed novel, begun in March 2019 just as the Covid lockdown got underway, and my husband and I were stranded with our dog in a 2-room apartment in a city we had only arrived in 9 months earlier. I had completed a certificate program to teach English as a second language, and had just begun interviewing.
*POOF! Teaching prospects disappear*
We did not move to Barcelona to sit around all day and watch TV. So in addition to beginning a daily meditation practice to calm my gay nerves, I decided to give my writing ambitions yet another try.
By my reckoning, I have begun 7 previous novels over the last 20+ years, and never reached further than 50 pages. All of them were in the fantasy genre, and all while I was working full-time. You can read more about my decades long writer's block in my FAQs and a future C3 blog post.
This time, though, I abandoned fantasy for a realistic narrative based on a real-life person and encounter, little more than an image of a beautiful man and a regret I had harbored for almost 30 years.
You might say I was haunted by this image, and I've come to believe much of our creative life is inspired by an actual spirit, call it the Muse or imagination if you like. I'm not sure I'll ever go back to trying to write fantasy, but I believe this element of creative inspiration is essential to sustain my (limited) attention span over the course of 75,000 words.
I've tried so many systems to keep my writing momentum over the years I've lost count. I tried NaNoWriMo and its 50K words in a month, and other words per day methods. I've tried to write for a certain amount of time each day, say a full hour. I've set deadlines, given myself ultimatums, made threats--all while writing sometimes five or more pages in a journal a day, just blah blah blahing--all to no avail. Something always happened somewhere between page 5 and page 50 that let all the air out of my motivational tires and left me feeling flat and flatter. Perhaps it was because every day I was sitting down to WRITE A NOVEL, like trying to swallow the whole sandwich instead of just taking a bite.
I read somewhere that Gertrude Stein (love her or hate her or love her) only wrote for 15 minutes per day, and I thought, well, I'll start with 10 minutes and work up to 15, what's one more ridiculous, maddening, failed attempt to come up with a system to write a novel?
Maybe it was the confinement, or maybe I finally have hit on something with my 10/5 system (more on that elsewhere) but by just sitting down and writing anything in/about/around the story for 10 minutes, 5 days a week, I was able to write 50,000 words in 3 months.
Sometimes all I could manage was 10 minutes, the timer would go off, and I could not sit still for even a second longer. Some days I couldn't sit down at all, and was grateful for only 5 days/week, when so often I had heard writers say you must write every day, and felt like an enormous failure because I couldn't, not every single day. Most of the time, though, once I just sat down and focused my attention on the story at hand for 10 minutes, I'd usually look up after 30 minutes or an hour, and realize I'd written a good 3 pages, or most of a scene, or a really good description of a setting or a character. These added up, day after day, week after week, and 10 minutes a day turned into a novel.
Mind you, I switched from first person to third person half way through those 50K words, and when I started to revise, I realized most of it was garbage and I virtually rewrote 75,000 words from scratch over the next 7 months. Revisions went on for about another year, for a total of 7 drafts before I started querying agents in March 2022.
And there you have it. Easy, no?