Tuesday, April 7, 2009


Meeting friends for lunch today. Writing friends, so we'll catch up on everyone's work and goals. We also like to share any new writing "learnings," (as we used to say in my more corporate job).

In this case it works. I've definitely learned that thing about getting to the point. I was trying to figure out how many words I cut from my revision. Part of the cutting was due to a plot thread that didn't work. (Note to Self: If you can cut without any other editing, it never worked, because a thread is also a braid, and I didn't have to unbraid much on this thread.)

Part of the cutting was just--does anyone ever need to see some configuration of these words again? Repetition and I were close friends, pre-revision.

And part was just--what the heck?

So, I cut about 20,000 words in all. And the good news is, it didn't come up short. It's about the same length as before, because that tricky plot point that I talked over with my editor gave me meat for the conflict, and the story grew when the conflict was right. I had a hard time writing this book first time around. It was the start of my crisis of confidence, but when the conflict was right, the story just felt right. It's that "feel" that I haven't been able to get for the past year or so.

But that's a learning I can't pass on to my friends because first, I don't want to see them in the same spot I've been, worrying over every word, every turn of plot, every piece of characterization. Second, it's almost like wishing my bad Karma on someone else to bring it up. And last, if I could intimate what that feeling is, I probably wound have found my way back to it before now.

I will say, though I've been groping in the dark on these proposals I'm polishing, they feel pretty right, too. So, despite the crisis and no confidence, I kept writing and the stories are there.

Oh--a learning--don't give up! Sounds trite, but even when you're fighting yourself, don't stop. This year, for the first time in my life, I looked giving up on writing in the eye. It wasn't working--I was plying word after word that didn't work--and I had to keep starting over because I just couldn't wrestle even these proposals into a workable story. There are 24 files in one proposal folder, and 23 in the other. That means I've tried that many times to get a chapter and a synopsis on each idea.

So, this is what I've learned. Don't give up.

That works in any job. But isn't it easier advised than done?


Jenn Nixon said...

Always have to keep learning otherwise our brains will turn to mush. LOL I'm constantly learning ways to make my writing better!

Anonymous said...