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Outlandishness of all sorts!
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I read a really good blog entry by Meg Cabot the other day where she said: "This is how I equate the fun first draft stage, where we’re just trying to be as outlandish as possible". That line resonated so strongly for me, and it worked as a kind of epiphany, too, for what I need to be doing right now with Kat by Starlight. My job right now, in first-draft form, is to be as outlandish as possible. The most extreme, the most wacky possibilities I can think of? Throw them all in! I can revise later. I can prune later. I can smooth things out and worry about being tasteful in later drafts. In the first draft, worrying about tastefulness is just out of place.

This is actually true, as proven by long experience. Every single time that I've been in the middle of a first draft, started to write something flying on instinct and then thought: Oh, no, that's actually just a bit TOO silly/gross/weird/etc...well, every single time that I've had the guts to write that bit anyway, it's always, invariably turned out to be the scene that other readers have pointed out as being their favorite, the most fun, and the most uniquely in my voice. The problem is, writing stuff that's uniquely me does NOT feel safe at all (it's far, far safer to write careful, quiet, harmless stuff that couldn't possibly give anyone a single qualm!), so my well-socialized instinct always kicks in at those points to insist (in a high, panicky tone) that I must cut it out quickly, before my terribly dorky sense of humor/sense of wonder/whatever can be exposed to the contemptuous world...and one of the most important jobs of writing turns out to be sticking to your guns and writing that stuff anyway.

So I've spent the last few days brainstorming the most outlandish possibilities I can think of, and I used that as the goal in the back of my mind this morning as I wrote the last 1200 words of Chapter Three. And it is SO much more fun to write with the guiding question "What would be the craziest, most outlandish possibility here?" than to be thinking: "What would be the best, most proper thing to do?"

And then I rewarded myself by watching silly border collie videos on YouTube all afternoon (all from Border Collie Rescue, another UK rescue group), and this one was my favorite. For pure, joyful silliness designed to put a smile on anybody's face (at least if you're an animal nut), check out "Puppy Walk", in which five crazy, high-energy border collie puppies and their mom go for an off-the-leash romp around the Border Collie Rescue Centre:

(I was so surprised at the end of the video to find out there were only six of them! I tried to count them a few times during the video but never managed it - they were moving too fast!)

Lately I've been trying to figure out the things I can do that make me really happy, and watching silly border collie videos turns out to be pretty darn high on the list. ;)

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