Friday, August 28, 2009

Frankenstein's Monster

...otherwise known as, my most recent literary endeavor. At least, that's how it feels. Bits and pieces sewn together and brought to life with an artificial spark.

Since my world shifted about a month ago, I'm in a holding pattern. No sense wasting my time marching down a path when I'm not sure where the heck I'm going. So as I mentioned a couple weeks ago, I'm gutting an old book for a single title. And I'm done. I think. I've added over 22,000 words, a subplot, another bad guy (yes, the drug dealer) and some good lovin'. But does it work? I have no idea.

My writing process is unusual. I don't do rough drafts unless I'm forced by a schedule to move faster than my brain wants to. When left to my own devices, I write in final draft. I write in sequence, plowing forward chapter by chapter to the end. I have an outline and I stick to it unless struck with creative brilliance that works better than what I already had. When I'm done with a chapter, I'm done unless my critique partners say otherwise. Hopefully one day I will hone my craft to the point that I will really, truly be done and not need to go back for additional work.

This means that revisions are hard on me. They're hard on everyone, but to go backwards and start trudging through old territory is exceptionally painful. The internal navigator in me gets lost when I'm plopped into the middle of an existing story and forced to forge new ground. I get tangled in the weeds. I see where I am and where I used to go, but getting someplace new? Ugh. In time I can use my machete and work my way through it, but while standing in the jungle of my story, I can't help the nagging sensation that somehow the book has become horribly and irrevocably screwed.

I pretty much have to finish what I'm doing, take some time off, then go back and read through the whole thing to make sure all the parts of my monster have been sewn back together properly. All the plot lines are connected. Anything removed or added is consistent throughout. This is where I am now. I've finished going through the book and after some "trunk time" I'm starting to read through it for the 27th time. I pray it makes sense. I don't want to do this again. Ever. If this book doesn't sell, I'm going to set it on fire in the backyard.

Have you ever gotten so immersed in a project, you couldn't tell which way was up anymore? Be it a book or a home improvement undertaking? When you finally found your way out, was it worth the trouble?



Playground Monitor said...

What? No peach farming?

NaNoWriMo had me so immersed I didn't know which way was up. And since that book's been rejected (insert sad face here) I need to go back through it and see where it went wrong. The editor loved the premise but I just didn't deliver it right. Maybe I can fix it. Maybe not. But I'll give it the old college try after the first of the year. I should have had enough time away from it by then to have at least a little objectivity.

Linda Winstead Jones said...

Sadly, I do this with every book I write. I DO write in rough draft, then go back and read it through again, adding, taking out, fixing. Then I let it sit (trunk time) and read through it again, and by the time I'm finished I know without doubt that my vision of every word is skewed. Lovely, eh? What a job . . .


Problem Child said...

Revisions exist for a reason -- to fix all that stuff I missed the first time :-)

Home improvement -- ugh. There's no such thing as a "quick" project. One thing always leads to another, and each thing costs at least $500.

my word verif is a bit obscene today...

Lynn Raye Harris said...

I always have trouble seeing the forest for the trees in every single book. Thank the heavens for a good editor. I used to think I couldn't go back and rip it apart, but I've learned that it's either do or die. If my editor says it's not working, then I have to find a way to fix it. Revisions are painful, oh yes, but I expect them now.

My drafts aren't rough, per se, but they aren't finished either. If left to my own devices, they might be. But I know my editor won't let me call it done. And believe me, I've grumbled, whined, and even begged her to read it and pronounce it perfect. Doesn't work, sigh.

It's always been worth the trouble so far. But it's the books under the bed that gave me the greatest fits. My GH book, for instance, was rewritten from scratch 3 times. And it's still under the bed, where it really does deserve to be. :) Maybe one day I'll pull it out again. But I doubt it. Once I move on, I let all the possibilities, and vision I can't quite get right, go.

Instigator said...

I always feel this way. Especially in the middle of the book (dreaded chapter 7!). I feel like I've forgotten what was important, dropped threads all over the place and added things I must, must, must remember to put into the front half of the book. But then when I have some time away from it I realize that it isn't as bad as I thought. Don't get me wrong, it's never perfect, but not nearly as painfully inadequate as I'd thought.


Kathy said...

Psst.. Quiet, headhunters are coming in part of the jungle.