Tuesday, April 04, 2006

You want some cheese with that whine?

Poor, poor Problem Child. Little did she know, Gentle Reader, how much her life was going to suck this week.
(Okay, so it doesn’t exactly suck. Everyone is happy and healthy and I’m almost done with that massive stack of papers on my desk. )

But here’s my whine.

I’m revising my book. I have a plan, fresh ideas, lots of enthusiasm. Chapters 1-3 go great. Alpha-up the hero, work on the heroine’s characterization and motivation, smooth out a couple of issues. No problem. Chapters 4-5 take a bit more effort and nail-biting, but they, too, fall into place.

Chapters 6-12, though, are giving me fits. I’m having to re-plot the whole middle of the book; scenes are being moved around and characters are doing different things. In desperation (or possibly frustration), I wrote each and every scene on an index card—complete with color coding—and I’m shuffling them into different orders to see how it works. (It works in my head; it just isn’t working in the ms.)

Me. The Pantser. Index cards and color coding. The world is askew.

Each time I move something, two other things have to be re-written or re-worked. I feel like I’m trying to juggle spaghetti noodles. Suddenly my book—the one I knew inside and out—has turned into one of those double-sided 3-D puzzles. And, in case you don’t know this about me, I hate puzzles.

Fear has set in (Panic is bringing up the rear guard). What if I can’t do it? What if I’m completely destroying my book—not making it better? What if I think I’ve done it and the editor tells me that, in actuality, I suck? After all, I thought my heroine’s characterization was pretty good to start with—obviously I was mistaken. This editor is going to think I’m a complete loser. I have to get this done fairly quickly to show I’m not a slacker—but what if I can’t write both fast AND good? And so on…

“Poor, poor Problem Child,” you say. “Get a grip. What’s the saying about 'I pitied myself because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet?' It’s all about perspective, PC. Waah, waah, sucks to be you.”

(Which is pretty much exactly what DG is telling me these days…)

It is all about perspective. The Mavens told me once that no matter where you were in this business, you just traded one set of problems for another. I agreed (because that’s what you do when the Mavens tell you something), but deep-down I didn’t believe it. Six months ago, I just wanted to get my foot in the door. Maybe have someone (other than you, Mom) tell me I didn’t suck. Okay, now I’ve wedged a toe in that door, and the problems/fears/hopes/needs/ wishes of six months ago have given way to a whole new set.

Seems the Mavens were right. As always.

So, I’m going to take my cheese (Brie sounds nice), and go back to my ms. I have a middle to rearrange. I’m going to remind myself how lucky I am to have this “problem.”

I’m going to open up the comments tail for you to whine. Go ahead, get it off your chest. We’ll have an assortment of cheese available for you as well. But then you have to get on with it—somewhere there’s somebody who would love to have your “problem.”

The “Problem” Child


Linda Winstead Jones said...

I think we should all make a pact right now never *ever* to say "I wish I had that problem." Every problem is real to the person who has to deal with it, and there are always problems of one sort of another.

I'm dieting. Again. Someone who thinks they're too thin and wants to put on a few pounds isn't going to automatically get sympathy from me :-) but that doesn't mean the problem isn't real.

So, hugs PC. I hope everything falls together the way you want and need them to for the story to work.


Rhonda said...

PC, you're doing what you should be doing--you're trying to pull your story together and make it work. FWIW, I think that's it's MUCH more difficult to revise a story than to write a whole new one. Or is is to me and always has been. (And I'm a pantster, too, so...)

Anyway, good luck with this! Try to shake off that shadow of doubt and just tuck in.


Smarty Pants said...

Did you keep a copy of the original MS as a backup? I always do that because I revise to a point where I get lost in the middle and have to reference back to where things were originally.

I guess people's knee jerk reaction to a problem like yours is usually the very unhelpful - "At least you GOT a revision letter. I got a form rejection." Or, as Maven Linda Winstead Jones mentioned "I wish I had that problem." (Which is, by the way, the last time I'll ever say that - promise.)

If you get lost, we can help you out this weekend. That's what we're here for.


Angel said...

Yes, I've found that forbidden phrase to be SO unhelpful. And I'm sure published authors hear it-and hate it-all the time.
The fact is that our problems are real to us. They stress us out as we try to find the solutions. Us. Not anybody else. But it still helps to have a listening and sympathetic friend sometimes. You know you can call us and whine, don't you?

Personally, all I have to whine about is the myriad of things that are cropping up to clutter my days. Not happy about that. Why is it the minute you create a schedule something comes along to mess it up?

Well, getting on with my day.


Kathy said...

The important thing to remember here, PC, is that a lot of people BELIEVE in you. You can do this. It may be hard and it may take time, but the end result will be worth it.

May the muse be with you.


Playground Monitor said...

The grass is always greener on the other side. We want to be published. Then we get a request and the revisions start. If they buy your book, you do perhaps more revisions. And art fact sheets. And edits and more edits. And once you have multiple contracts, you may be working on various stages of different books at once and be totally confused. Yet knowing this, we still want it.

I had someone tell me that it would never be easier than it is right now -- writing for just the love of writing instead of trying to meet a deadline.

Hang in there, PC. It'll all work out. This is just a new situation for you and most of us hate new situations. We like our comfort zone but as I love to say "Sometimes ya just gotta put on your big girl panties and deal with it."


Instigator said...

Big girl panties. *snort*

I agree! And I'm right there with you PC - if it makes you feel any better. Rearranging, cutting pages and pages of stuff you already had and really liked, having to replace those with new and fresh ideas. It isn't easy.

I can't speak for you but I know that even as difficult as it's been it's also been eye opening. This story is so much better now than it was before. I know yours will be as well. Because you're a talented writer. You can do this!

Now pass me that cheese tray. I need a snack. Never diet while in revision hell, Instigator's words of wisdom :-)