Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The hard part

No, not that hard part. Get your minds out of the gutter, people!

I’m in Scotland this week, blogging in absentia. While DG and AC visit with the in-laws, I’m working on revisions.

It’s appropriate, in a way, that I’m revising this book in Scotland, as I finished this book in Scotland many moons ago. (For those of you new to the blog, I play Miss America chaperone to AC and escort her overseas every summer. I use that time to write. Usually.)

Once the euphoria of “I don’t suck” waned, I was faced with the prospect of actually revising. I knew it would be a major undertaking—not just a tweak here or there or just a rearranging of scenes. Pretty much everything after about chapter four would have to be cut or completely rewritten. Yikes.

The first cut—the stuff I knew had to go—took my book from 56k to 18.5k in two quick keystrokes. I had to go lie down in a dark room after that.

Once that nausea passed, I knew I was on the right track. Until now, I lacked the distance necessary to objectively evaluate what was really in this book. Of course the book was dragging—I stretched the action out over eight freaking months. (Yes, if you’d asked me if that was a good idea for your book, I would have told you no way. My book, however, was special and that rule didn’t apply.) That supporting cast of interesting and quirky characters—complete with backstory for each—had to go. Needless to say, the scenes written from their points of view also had to be slashed.

What can I say—it was my first book and I’ve learned a lot since then. ~shrug~

Let’s just say that the first cut is the deepest, and while it may be painful, it can improve your book exponentially.

Then, of course, came the question of what will I do now? The Beautiful Editor did give me some suggestions, and after much personal angst, I decided which ideas I could use to create an actual plot past page 50.

Then, just as I’d come (almost) to terms with all that was cut, I started wondering what I might be able to keep. Can I salvage that wonderful scene I love in chapter ten? Maybe I can work some of it in in chapter six? It’s a great scene—full of angst and self-discovery. Maybe a few tweaks will make it work in the revised version.

Or, maybe since it’s “cut” right now, I should leave it as such.

I’m not saying this is easy, but it’s a growing experience for me as a writer. I’m really trying to push myself to go deeper with these characters and their story, because I do love them and want them to have their chance to see the world.

But it’s tough, trying to figure out if I’m making this book better or worse with the revisions. Honestly, at this point, I’m not sure.

But the only way out is through, so I’m slogging along, unsure if this is the best stuff I’ve ever written or if I’m a complete talentless hack. I guess I’ll find out once I finish it and send it off to Beautiful Editor, huh?

So send creative thoughts my way, okay? And maybe today would be a good day to practice our affirmations. I’ll start: “I don’t suck. I don’t suck. This book is great.

Your turn. What’s your affirmation?



Jen said...

"I don't suck" pretty much works for me. Good luck on those revisions. It's not an easy task but you know that I think you're up to it. (insert peppy little cheerleader-who-needs-to-die icon here.) Seriously, you CAN do this, PC.

Angel said...

Good luck!

Considering I have 2 weeks to finish my novella and revise it? And I just joined my sister in a weight loss challenge? My chant is "I can do it. I can do it... even if it kills me." :)

Instigator said...

YOU DO NOT SUCK!! You are so far away from suck you and the word aren't in the same universe.

I know it's hard and I completely understand about not knowing whether you're making it better or worse. Just trust that you know the story, the characters and what the editor asked you for. You can do this, PC.

I think my chant right now is "You don't need sleep. You don't need sleep."


Rhonda Nelson said...

We miss you, PC! (And I miss Scotland. I was looking through my pictures again last night.)

And you don't suck! You rock and this book is going to be wonderful when you're finished. Just keep chuggin' on.

Kathy said...

Let yourself go. Believe in yourself! You can do it!!!

My mantra? This morning I'm worrying about my kids. They're all going to leave me soon. I'm wondering what I'll do, who I'll be. If I'll ever find myself again.

"I'm not defined by my kids. I"m not defined by my kids."

Smarty Pants said...

For my mantra, I've always been a Nike sort of girl - Just do it. Just get off your lazy bum and do it! Although, I don't suck is a pretty good follow up.

Lynn Raye Harris said...

I will not give up, I will not give up, I will not give up.

That's pretty much it. :) Hugs on the revisions. I know from whence you speak. :)

Playground Monitor said...

Right now it's "You CAN write or edit 4 pages a day."

Hang in there! You know we all believe in you.