Making Literary Sausage

That’s what I’m doing this week – the first, rough, rushing-hectic-and-headlong through this WIP that has me by the throat and won’t let go until I finish. It’s ugly, it’s messy, and I don’t want to think too hard about what’s going into this draft (hence the sausage metaphor, thank you very much) and when I get done it will still be raw, unready, but it will be something.

Hmm. I’ll avoid sausage posts in the future. This one’s making me reconsider my lapsed vegetarianism. (You know, my dad used to make sausage on our kitchen counter when I was a kid, out of the deermeat he butchered on my swingset during deer season. Yes, and people still had to ASK why I was a vegetarian all those years. Brrrr.)

I love this part of writing, but I love all the other parts, too. The editing, the revising, the reading it aloud, the thinking, the long walks out here in the country when I get blocked and how those two miles can free my mind to secretly, subversively consider ways around plot trickery that I wouldn’t dream up this close to a keyboard.

It consumes me, this work.

All this to say, there have been many other blog posts in the past week that I wish I had written, posts I could have written if my manuscript would have given me time (it’s calling even now, I must post links quickly!). For instance, this excellent post about the San Antonio SCBWI conference by Vonna Carter (bonus: a picture of me and Shelli! Thanks, Vonna.). These posts on the Speak Loudly discussion about Laurie Halse Anderson’s excellent book and others – thanks, Shelli, Suzie, and so many others for speaking eloquently to this topic.

I have been reading, too. I finished The Duff – amazing, uncomfortable to read at times, breakneck pacing once I learned to live with my queasiness about Bianca’s, um, choices. Highly recommended for older teens. Also, Mockingjay a few weeks too late to squeee about it, but I loved it as well. I’m reading even more fairy tale/mythology stuff – including The Girl Who Married the Moon, and hundreds of traditional fairy tales, looking for that sliver I can pick out and turn into my next creative theme-tool. So many more – Dancing With Dead People, a memoir that so far reminds me of The Glass Castle, and Crank are next on the stack.

Now back to the writing. I cannot escape the WIP – this one’s funny, and poignant (to me at least) and deep, and maybe even controversial. What am I thinking? All this in middle grade? Maybe it’s for older middle grade. It’s got all sorts of Topics of Importance buried in there… and this sweet, real relationship between two brothers that reminds me so much of the way my older sister and I helped each other through The Divorce.

No one has a better job than this.

Writer Friends? Write well, write quickly.

Posted in Children's Fiction, Miscellaneous, People I Love on 09/22/2010 03:19 pm


  1. Yes. The sausage metaphor is so accurate. I’m getting close to being able to twist the casing shut on my current first draft. Then I have to write a synopsis for the revision workshop. I fear that will be more like making refrigerator stew. You know, where you just take whatever’s in the fridge, simmer it together in a pot and call it dinner–and hold a giant wooden spoon in the air and dare anyone in the family to question it? I’ve heard about people doing things like that…


    • Nikki Loftin

      OH, Shelli. Please tell me you don’t make fridge stew? I’ve never done anything like that! (We call it “train wreck” at my house.) I can’t wait to see your WIP! Twist, twist, twist!


  2. I’m juggling too many balls this week and my WIP is suffering. I’ll get it all straightened out and make some headway next week. It was nice seeing you and Shelli in SA.


  3. I get that it’s a sausage first draft, but I’ve seen your “sausage” drafts . . . so now I want a blog post on how you manage to write so darn quickly. Perhaps, it’s the grab-you-by-the throat thing? I’ve had that, but lately, I, um, start over 40K in or 35K in or whatever. Or, maybe it’s just other stuff getting in the way, but share your secrets. Share them! Off to an SCBWI retreat. Maybe that will inspire.

    P.S. I love Shelli’s additions to the sausage metaphor!


    • Nikki Loftin

      Shelli is one of the funniest writers/people I know! I would love for you to meet. We’ll have to do a SCBWI national in LA someday.
      Sounds like you have a “mushy middle” issue. I used to think outlining was Of The Devil, but now I do a modified form of it once I’m about 5-10K in. Also, after about 20K, I do Stuart Smalley’s affirmations every day – I’m good, enough, I’m smart enough, and goshdarnit, people like me. Seriously, the middle is where self-doubt attacks. If you can get through that, and get to The End – Any End, you can go back and revise. But until you write through it, you can’t fix anything.
      Lori, not to sound maudlin or emo or anything, but life seems so short to me now. I gave up so many years of this dream to self-doubt and other work. I’m not sure how many more chances I’m gonna get to make this work, you know? So I write like the Devil’s chasing me.
      Wrote and sent another short piece off last night. 😉


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