The rut of which I speak is of the writing variety. Here's the deal. Some time ago I wrote a book called FARVE CASTLE LETS IT GO. Then I revised it again and again and again. Then I revised it some more. Then I had to sit around and wait for the good folks running the Delacorte Yearling Contest for a First Middle Grade Novel to reject it. Being the good little writer I am, I dutifully followed the advice of many a writer: I started my next book. Then I finished it. And revised, revised, revised.
So here's the rut: I've been revising so long that I'm having a hard time writing a first draft. I've started about seven different first drafts but can't seem to keep the motor running. And I know what's causing the stall. I'm revising too much as I write. I'm fretting over every word and worried about story structure and all sorts of nonsense that I know has to wait, but flat out refuses to because my brain is running a continuous loop of revise, revise, revise.
Writing teacher Lucy Calkins penned the phrase "passion hot, critic cold" to express this dichotomy. That is, when writing a first draft the throttle needs to be open and you need to bring the heat of passion to your writing. But when it's time to revise, you have to divorce yourself from your wonderful words and reread with the cold detachment of a surgeon.
The surgeon refuses to leave the room. Anybody with suggestions, I'd love to hear them.
Oh, and since you asked, here's a quick run-down of the seven stories I've started. Maybe I should open it up to a vote. Couldn't hurt at this point.
1. Sequel to the YA. Might be a little presumptuous, but the characters are a blast. It's like hanging out with really fun people.
2. A story about a vain queen, an ugly princess, and a depressed alien. Also, a King who loves to watch bowling and eat Cheese Bombs. There's some saving-the-world from alien attack thing going on, too.
3. YA about a kid getting revenge against six kids he blames for his pathetic existence. Yes, it's been done, but I'm going for funny here. And just between you and me, one of the characters is named VanHalen Mendenhall. I may have to write the thing just because of that.
4. MG about a kid who finds a magic music box and uses it for nefarious purposes.
5. Humorous MG about a boy who believes he's destined for greatness because of his scar, a fortune cookie, and something he read on the Internet.
6. Another revenge story, this one MG. After getting embarrassed in front of the girl he likes, Harvey Wentworth hatches a complicated plot involving a rare Jawa action figure, a theft, and some insurance money, all so he can exact revenge and maybe pay off his mother's gambling debts.
7. Story about married celebrities who hand over their kids to be used on an island reality show with the understanding that they'll be dropped in the ocean at the show's conclusion.