Things I Accomplished Today

Sad Clown - Occupy Wall St

  1. Wrote 2000 words in my new story.
  2. Read blogs by talented, funny, charming authors.
  3. Drank several cups of coffee.
  4. Revised a couple more chapters in the story I’m editing.
  5. Read Twitter.
  6. Re-read the email about winning the contest that I Cannot Mention.
  7. Sketched out a revised outline for a totally different story that’s sitting on the Rewrite bench.
  8. Did everything on my To Do list.
  9. Did anything on my To Do list.
  10. Wrote a blog post.

In a situation like this, there’s only one thing to do. Get the heck out of here. I’m going to go find me a Starbucks, or a reasonable facsimile thereof, and revise some more chapters.  And then I’m going to come back here and update this post with a report of my success. That way, I will have to get it done.

Yes, I am using you. Shamelessly.

Update: Two more chapters revised. At least I got something done today.

A Different Perspective

My struggle is harsh and I come back
with eyes tired
at times from having seen
the unchanging earth,
but when your laughter enters
it rises to the sky seeking me
and it opens for me all
the doors of life.
– Pablo Neruda, Your Laughter

I have been revising my current manuscript for so long that I cannot see it clearly. I want to finish, I want to be done with this story — I have new stories to write! — but right now I am too close to the story to see it. I need to stop staring at the words.

What do you do when you’re too close to a story? How do you clear your head?

Metaphor soup, or thoughts about revising a story

When I first looked at the list of all the things I needed to revise in this manuscript, I was daunted. The list of fixes loomed before me like an impenetrable barrier, a huge wall blocking my way forward.

Now that I’ve been chipping away at the revisions, it’s starting to feel a lot more doable. I’ve cut it down to size. Or gotten my head in the game. Not sure what metaphor fits here, but I don’t want to revise this paragraph again. I need to get back to the manuscript.

el_capitan_-_the_nose

These guys are either thinking “Wow! Isn’t it cool we’ve come this far!” or Helllllllp!

One really great thing that I’ve found while doing these revisions is this: I’ve found my way back to the initial seed-idea that started me writing it, the thing that I found intriguing enough to start pounding the keyboard in the first place. I’m finding ways to layer that original idea back into the story. It had gotten buried in all the different character arcs.
Now that I’ve cleared out the undergrowth somewhat, I can see it again. (Yes, I know, another metaphor thrown into the soup.Maybe it’ll add flavor.)

It’s a lot of work, but it feels like I’m getting somewhere.

Swimsuits and Rewriting

Revising a manuscript feels rather like trying on swimsuits, except I can do it in the privacy of my own home. I keep discarding old ideas and trying on new ones. They’re pretty ideas, but when I try them out on my story, all I can see are the physical flaws.

On the other hand, putting this novel on a diet (i.e. throwing out much of chapter 1) yielded some unexpected discoveries. Suddenly, I understand why my hero was being snappish in Chapter 2. I knew he was irritable and defensive in that scene, but I had no idea why. NOW it makes perfect sense.

Chapters 1 and 2 are revised. I might go back and tweak a sentence here or there to make things flow better, but for now I’m calling them Done and moving on. Only 12 more chapters to go.

 

Image: Scanned from period postcard, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=21660

Putting the vision into revision

Water drop on a leaf

“Writing is rewriting… If you fall in love with the vision you want of your work and not your words, the rewriting will become easier.”
– Nora DeLoach

When I first finished this manuscript, I felt like a runner, one of those people that you see on television just making it across the finish line before they collapse in a heap. I really was not looking forward to the prospect of revising it. That would mean looking at it again, and that was the last thing I wanted to do.

Looking at the whole manuscript at once was… disheartening. But I didn’t write the original version all at once, and no one but me was expecting me to revise the whole thing at once, so I decided to focus on one chapter at a time.

As I go through the chapters, ruthlessly cutting my tender words of genius and brutally hacking out whole scenes, I feel like an explorer wielding her machete through an impenetrable jungle. But it’s changing how I see the manuscript. The more I cut, the more I am starting to feel as if I am coming back to the original idea that inspired me to write the story in the first place.

Useful links:

These are some links that I looked up while procrastinating found useful.

The Seekerville blog:

Rachelle Gardner’s blog:

After The Call: the revision

“I’d heard about these revision letters and expected to get one—in the same way I expect to die someday.” – Camille Eide, “What do you mean my hero isn’t sexy enough?”

“… revisions, editorial feedback, are there to make us the best writers we can be, which is really what we should want. It’s not just about getting a pat on the back and an ‘oh, good job, it’s fine’ It’s about taking it to the next level.” – Maisey Yates, “Revisions! (the musical)”

Everyone talks about what getting The Call feels like. You don’t hear so much about what happens next.

In my case, I got a list of things to revise.

photo

Each yellow sticky flag is a revision note.

I cringed every time I saw a comment pointing out some perfectly obvious error in continuity that I should have caught before I sent it. I know it’s inevitable to miss something, but even so… argh!

On the plus side, I am going to have a much stronger story when I get to the end of these.