Ernest Hemingway said “the first draft of anything is shit”. And I’m not starting any nerdy lit wars, but he’s kind of a big deal. He knows what he’s talking about when it comes to writing, at least.
This has been my mantra while writing my current novel — which I feel comfortable calling a novel rather than just a work-in-progress (even though it is) because I freaking FINISHED A FIRST DRAFT EVERYONE.
This may not seem like a big deal, but trust me when I tell you this is huge. Approximately 50,000 words relating to the same story with a beginning, middle and end. Chock-full of shoddy writing and more than a few space-saving brackets where things need to be fleshed out. But DONE.
The key was figuring out how to turn off my editor-brain, because that’s what’s always hung me up before. To do this, once I finished writing for the day, I was done with that section. I could not reread it or tweak it anymore. I created a section for notes each day, where I would put ideas for changes, things to research, etc, so when I go back to do my first round of edits (which I am so excited for it’s almost embarrassing), I’ll be able to see if the changes fit and remember what else I might be able to add.
Like I said, at some points I put in brackets — a lot of points, actually. Almost every minor character in my book is currently known simply as [X], because I’ll need to research typical names and did not want to get sucked down a research rabbit hole. I left some really shitty lines like “we all fight a lot and people die right and left” because I will need to watch videos and read articles to accurately depict battle scenes, but also needed to move the narrative of the first draft along.
But the point is, it is done and I am floating on a high like I have not known before.
And now I may be able to return some focus to this blog, which I really do love.
As you know, I’ve been writing, and a big part of my writing process is music. I’ve been re-exploring old playlists as well as combing through my “Discover Weekly” options through Spotify to come up with another list of songs that have been on repeat in my head — even when Spotify is turned off. Several of these songs can relate to different scenes and characters I’m writing, some are just fun to blast in the car or dance to around the apartment (two, coincidentally, are my nephew’s favorite songs to ‘drop it low’ to — added to my playlist before I’d ever even seen his sweet 14-month-old-dance-moves but now will forever be favorites).
Once again, I don’t watch music videos, but I’ve provided links if interested. This time I’ve also starred the ones that might come with ‘parental advisory’ labels (meaning I’m advising you, Mom: there are swear words).
Dread Nation by Justina Ireland is a book about zombies interrupting the Civil War. Don’t let the idea of zombies scare you off, though (Mom), because this story is so much more than the next zombie apocalypse novel.
Our main character, Jane, was born during the Civil War, right around the time the dead came back and put a stop to the battling. Everyone became focused instead on solving the issue of zombies — or “shamblers” as they’re known in the book. Old beliefs linger despite the physical war ending, and the view of post-war America where neither side won is fascinating.
Black and Native American children are sent to boarding schools where they learn combat skills to fight the shamblers. The ultimate goal is to attain a position as bodyguards for the wealthy. Jane is enrolled in one of the best of these schools, and while she is an excellent fighter, she struggles with following the rules. Her antics lead her from a frustrating situation to one that is downright deadly. She has to fight –and not only against shamblers — to keep those she loves safe.
Dread Nation is very well-written with believable and relatable characters. The America Justina Ireland paints is vivid and sometimes heart-wrenching in its authenticity. It isn’t hard to imagine some of the reactions, beliefs, and social norms created in this alternate society. This book is both entertaining and deep, evoking fun conversations about zombies as well as more serious social commentary that could be applicable even today.
Also worth noting, I really love the chapter titles. It’s a small touch, but in my opinion, they are very well done and made me look forward to each new story-within-the-story.
Modern Brewery is another brewery in a warehouse space, but smaller than 2nd Shift. The bartenders were friendly enough, but they were more engaged with regular customers when we visited last fall (which is understandable), so we just grabbed a table near the entrance to enjoy the late autumn breeze (okay, it was too chilly but neither of us wanted to admit it to the other).
We tried the Citropolis IPA and Citropolite (slightly less-hopped). They were fine, but not our favorites.
Since visiting, I’ve ventured into the world of hops and pale ales. That in itself makes me want to revisit Modern. Add to it the fact that the weather is warming up, and I know their space is open and breezy, and this could be a great spot to enjoy this summer!
Because this blog is for rambling about what I love, and because I love Saint Louis (and because my husband might strangle me if I continue to wax poetic about our fair city to him on a daily basis), I’m coming at you with another fun St. Louis adventure.
Laumeier Sculpture Park is not even 20 minutes outside the city. It’s a sprawling park with really cool sculptures (duh) and lots of open space for children and dogs to frolic, romantic picnics, or maybe a borderline-aggressive game of ultimate Frisbee. There are paved paths that wind between sections of the park so you can take a leisurely stroll through the grounds. OR if you’re feeling a bit more adventurous and looking for a more rustic trail, there are a few winding through the trees surrounding the park.
We did not go into the hiking with any sort of plan, and mostly stuck to the Western Woodland Trail. We ran into a couple of dead-ends (ok, one was really just that we heard slithering sounds from the underbrush and I DO NOT DO SNAKES — which I shouted as I ran back the way we’d come — so technically that doesn’t count as a dead end. Also, my husband said it was probably just a squirrel. Then another path was a little overgrown and my husband wasn’t trying to get THAT rustic so he said there were probably snakes along that trail, too. Which was mean, but effective). The backtracking just helped get our blood pumping and made us feel like we were real explorers.
Once upon a time, my dad hung our old computer in a tree in our backyard, followed by several old bikes and other random things that created a sort of avant-garde sculpture garden of our own. Because of this, my husband was quick to point out a sculpture in a tree during our hike and call that artist a copy cat.
Whatever you’re into, this is such a great spot. Easy, breezy picnic in the sun, a day out with the kids, a sophisticated art-viewing, a hike through nature — Laumeier Sculpture Park can do that for you.
It’s no secret how much I love music. I’ve talked about it often enough on here. For lack of anything better to write about (and because I am really loving these tunes), below is a list of my top songs of the moment. These are the songs that crawl under my skin and roll through my blood and settle in my bones, the songs that haunt me until I play them one more time before falling asleep. I know some are pretty old, but they’re all fairly new to me. You can check out the entire playlist on Spotify here, or if you prefer YouTube, I’ve included links to the videos — but viewer beware; I don’t usually like to watch the official music videos because their story can sometimes change what the song means for me, so who knows what you may see.
Yesterday I took the VIP tour at Schlafly’s Tap Room — my husband got us tickets through the Beer and Wine Club at his grad school and it includes free tastings so YES PLEASE — and it was awesome.
Firstly, I’ve been to the Tap Room one other time (Stout and Oyster Festival), but I didn’t realize just how big the place is. There is a LOT of seating through several rooms. We got to go behind the windows into the room where the giant vats are (wearing safety goggles, of course), and then down into the basement where the real magic happens.
AJ was a pretty great tour guide. He was informative and clearly very passionate about craft beer. He mentioned a beer class he also gives, which I’d love to check out. Just based on his enthusiasm, I’m going to go ahead and recommend both the tour and the class.
The tasting was really fun. My husband is *obsessed* with Schlafly’s Kentucky Mule, which was one of the options during the tasting, so all his buddies got to sample and see why he isn’t crazy for talking it up so much. I also tried the Scotch Ale, which is ale aged in scotch barrels. It was really smoky, which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing (I vaguely remember telling people it tasted like the chicken taco I’d had earlier — still not a bad thing). I also had the Gruit, which was a delicious and refreshing sour (probably my favorite of the tasting), and one other from a bottle with a kind of shiny label whose name I can’t remember. Also, on the tour I had a (plastic) glass of the Pale Ale, which as I’ve said before, makes me so happy that I magically enjoy Pale Ales now.
P.S. My husband bought two bottles of the Kentucky Mule (they come in like wine-bottle size and are also I think 12% ABV?). I’m pretty sure he tried to say one of them was for one of his buddies, but we ended up bringing both home with us so I think he just pulled a fast one on me. I wasn’t in the most observant state of mind by that point.