Revising

pages from my art journal

I love the creative process. I love the brilliant idea as bright as a candle flame. The revision process? Not so sexy.

I wish I could fall in love with rewriting. These tips for writers as they revise at Necessary Fiction really got me thinking. Here are a few useful ideas from the post:

  • write the plot on sticky notes then organize in columns
  • retype the whole thing
  • change fonts
  • make sure what your character wants is an impediment to what others want
  • raise the stakes
  • get rid of introductory clauses

I am in love with the short form. I love blogging. I sit down. Write for 20 minutes. Add a photo or two. Hit publish. Done! Go about life.

For me revising is endless. There’s no Done!

Thanks to NaNoWriMo, I now have two half-baked novels written during the months of November (2011 and 2009). Due to their unwieldy length, slightly more than 50,000 words, I can’t bear to open the first chapter. Just maybe if I set out the plot on colorful sticky notes or cut up my scenes with scissors, the story could emerge more like a work of art, a collage, than a mess of incomplete plot points.

collage – perhaps upside-down?

I have been crazy making collages lately. I get into a Zen mode and throw paint and color and images down on paper or on discarded library books.

Done! I love the haphazard process and the chaotic result. Maybe I could see the process of revising my writing as a visual art project.

As the blogger Matthew Salesses says, “a lot of these thoughts are about seeing. Remember: re-vision.”

I, too, can repurpose, rewrite, rethink, rewind, rework, and revise. Re-vision.

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NaNoWriMo Again

I love writing.

Revising? Editing? Not so much.

I love the act of creating. When I was on my sabbatical, writing a blog post a day, I was in heaven. Always new. Always thinking. Always up for another cup of coffee. Hit the Post button. I’m done. I wrote it. I’m brilliant in the very short form. The long form. Ugh.

Last November, I wrote a novel in a month. NaNoWriMo. Na=National, No=Novel, Wri=Writing, Mo=You get the idea.

I wish that I had as much gusto for editing the book these last 10 months as I had for writing the book in that one month.

So it is with any big achievement.

Everyone’s up for a wedding, but who is up for the day-to-day of marriage? Helping the newlyweds redecorate or navigate their finances? Nah! Everyone loves to celebrate the baby’s birth, but the grueling day in and day out of diaper changing? Not for the faint of heart. No big balloon bouquets for the daily slog. How about graduation? Heck, I’d love to send the graduate a card with a few bucks tucked inside! But help her in the days, weeks, months ahead as she’s looking for a job? Not really feeling it.

I honestly never felt so purposeful as I felt writing my novel last November. Never felt so accomplished as when I finished it. I made myself cry (but if you know me, well, crying’s my forte.)

Loved the challenge of reaching 75K (or was it 50K? How soon I forget) of NaNoWriMo. I loved the support, encouragement of my cyberfriends and my real family.

Charlotte quieted the other two, “Shhhhh, Quit fighting. Mom’s writing.”

Hayden bragged about me at an all school assembly.

Catherine brought me a cup of tea, then backed away like a geisha girl.

But the month was over. Weeks turned into months. It’s almost November — time to start a new novel. How can I start another baby when I haven’t completely finished the last?

I opened the humongous file of the 2009 NaNoWriMo winner, stared at the screen. My fingers lay dormant.

After a while, “What are you doing, Mom?” My head was on the keyboard.

“Thinking about my novel,” I said.

“I thought you wrote that book already, Mom,” Char said.

“I did. But now I have to rewrite it,” I said. Honestly, I have to — not only rewrite and edit it, but I have to start to read it. I can’t even remember my main character’s name. I wrote those 175 pages in November as if in a trance.

Hayden walks by carrying a plate of Bagel Bites. “Your book? Mom, when is your book coming out? I should make an announcement at school again,” Hayden nodded.

“Oh, it’s not done.”

“Really?”

I don’t know. Maybe there’s someone somewhere who actually spews out words and doesn’t have to rewrite them. I wish that was me. But that ain’t me — Gotta rewrite this part! Got to, rather — That isn’t me.

I need to brew and stew and revisit. Ah, maybe that’s how I can get back to the novel. See it as a little visit to a world I once knew and loved and forgot. Like remembering the high of a wedding, a birth or a graduation. Rest on achievement represented by that one big day, but don’t let the one big day stop me from really living the one big life. ‘Cause life is an accumulation of days, some big, some small, mostly average. That’s what writing and editing is – the daily grind, no big who-ha! And I’d rather party, but I’ve got to slog.

I am challenging myself to read my 2009 NaNoWriMo novel and edit and revise for 10 minutes every day until November when I begin a new novel. I will try to periodically check in here and post progress. That seems to have been a successful way to get myself to start running; the semi-public act of blogging about running has made me a more consistent runner. http://runningaground.wordpress.com/

Maybe the semi-public act of writing about novel writing will make me actually work on my novel. If you think this is true, see an earlier blog post where I have considered doing this in April. https://gettingmyessayspublished.wordpress.com/2010/02/27/nanoedmo/ It’s just easier (more fun!) to write than edit.

NaNoEdMo

I had so much fun in November for National Novel Writing Month. I really should/want to do National Novel Editing Month in March. Starting tomorrow.

But Fifty hours of Editing! Ugh! I can’t do anything for 50 hours. I’ll have to get up early or skip exercise at lunch time or work for hours and hours.

And what about my commitment to myself to blog everyday of Lent?

Yet the characters I birthed in November are wandering around in a Netherworld, asking me to come get them out of their half-lives. They are so needy and I’m a sucker for characters that need me. Seriously considering…..