Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Rewrite takes its toll

It's been 10 days since my last post. It seems like 10 years.

Well, maybe that's just how much I've aged in that time. In the past 10 days, I have been enlightened, distracted, overjoyed, embittered, intoxicated, and even bit by a spider. And all of that came about either during or as a result of my current rewriting process.

It's getting to be a bit of a wear on the constitution, to be sure. The problem is that I don't really like second-guessing myself, but it's imperative that I do so. As a newspaper reporter, I hack things out, give it one tidy run through and POOF it's out of my hands. Then I'm on to the next story.

This is much bigger, much more involved, and much more important to me than some story about a hockey coach I crank out in 30 minutes. My writing is me, and I don't want to screw it up. I don't know if my story is better or worse. Obviously, I think it's better - now anyway. Back to the newspaper stuff, I'm used to getting done and it's right the first time and that's good enough. Now, that's not good enough, and it's a little of an adjustment for me.

I've made great headway, and I should be closing in at wrapping up this draft some time in the near future. And then I'll give it to some buddies to read and rip to shreds. But for now, I'm still plowing through.

I've heard time and time again that writing is the easy part, but the rewriting and editing are the parts where the novel really gets done. Sure, it's true. But it's still annoying sometimes.

Whenever I used to see one of those quotes about editing or rewriting, I used to think 'Wow, tha'ts pretty cool.' Now all I think is 'Oh, shut up, Faulkner. Like you had it rough.'

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Zone in

I was cruising through my Twitter feed earlier today, and there was one post that summed up pretty much everything that got me fired back up on my work in progress.

The post was from the always quality feed of @AdviceToWriters, which posted this quote from the great Jack London: "Don't write too much. Concentrate your sweat on one story rather than dissipate it over a dozen."

I am not surprised that Jack London said something better than I could, and this is a great point. Multi-tasking is something wonderful - when you've got to, say, conduct an interview for work on your cell phone while you're driving to another interview and you're writing out a grocery list when you're stuck at a stop light. It's not so wonderful (at least for me) when it comes to my creative writing.

When I spread myself too thin, then my writing gets thin, too. I like having juicy hunks of stuff for the reader to take a bite out of, and that takes concentration. So I have to get down with the blinders on dive into one project. I can't have your feet in two different swimming pools and expect to get anywhere. Actually, all that accomplishes is making me look stupid.

I've posted recently that I got some new ideas while working on the new novel. All I've managed to do with them was write them down, but I haven't really written on them yet. Now I know that I'm not going to work on those until this draft is all finished.

Distractions can be a real pain in the ass. And I include Twitter on this list. Don't get me wrong, I love reading what my followers have to say, and I love retweeting the stuff I find particularly insightful/funny/unbelievable/just-plain-honest/etc. But I KNOW I spend too much time on there - time that could be spent editing/writing/rewriting/sleeping.

There is no way to get rid of all distractions, and I doubt I'll stop looking at the internet while I go through the process of wrapping up this second draft. But just because you get distracted doesn't mean you have to lose focus.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Out of the Blue

All I've been doing lately in regards to my vexing/fantastic/rough/fancy work in progress is rewriting, editing, rewriting, editing. I've been so focused on just zoning in on making this second draft one that somebody other than me can actually read, that I was astonished with a developement today.

I got ideas for other stories. Yes, that's right. PLURAL. Meaning more than one idea.

I have no idea where they came from, or which crack in my brain they wriggled out of, but all of a sudden they were there. And that left me scrambling.

As far as ideas go, I can't speak to how anybody else works. I don't ask people where they get their ideas, because the answer is always the same: Nobody knows. Likewise, I don't know where my ideas come from, but when they arrive, they pop into my head and jolt me awake like a fire engine blasting down your street at 4 a.m. At first I'm bewildered and confused and don't know what the heck is going on, and the next thing I know, I'm in a haze trying figure out what the hell is going on.

As a writer, I am prepared for this sort of thing. I carry my lil' notebook around everywhere I got for various jottings and for just such an occasion. But getting everything down is a different story.

Ever have a dream that is so vivid an dreal, but when you wake up it's completely gone? You can't remember anything no matter how hard you try? When I get an idea for a short story or a novel or whatever, that's my biggest fear. I'm so scared I'm going to lose everything before I get it all down that I just start scribbling away furiously in the hopes that I don't lose one drop of that idea that just started overflowing.

In any event, the moral of this story is that I was shocked that all of my concentration on creating my second draft produced a couple of what I think could be very solid stories. I'm always stunned at the peculiar times inspiration hits, but I'll take it.

It's not only going to be editing and rewriting tonight. Add some outlining and creating to that list, too. I can't wait.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Taking names

I didn't know how to tackle the editing and rewrite of my first draft. However, after figuring out a way to go about it that fits my style, I've come to one good, determined conclusion.

I'm going to kick this rewrite's ass.

Pardon the language, for the faint of heart out there, but I really don't know another way to put it. I'm bulling forward and hammering away at more than just laptop keys. I'm sharpening my story and my characters and all that other stuff, and I feel ultra-positive about how the rewrite is going just three days into it.

I'm tackling at least one chapter a day, and just finished a session where I hammered out roughly 4,000 words. Of course, some of those words were typed back in September, to be sure. But any writer that uses words as their guide will now that few things are more fulfilling than crusing through a couple thousand words in less than an hour. I may be rehashing some stuff that I've already typed and edited and resigned myself to liking (for now), but getting all those words out is good for the ol' psyche.

The best part? It feels great to be writing again, and it feels pretty good.

So it's full steam ahead with the rewrite, and I should have this sucker rattled off and (hopefully) coherent within a month.

At least that's the goal, and I don't know anything that should keep me from getting through my 22 chapters in 22 days. I mean, I just said I was kicking ass. What's going to get in the way of someone kicking ass?

Sunday, April 11, 2010


Now that's a little more like it.

After another rock-em, sock-em frantic bout with editing, I'm back into my comfort zone - writing again. Well, this is a little different I guess, since technically what I'm doing it rewriting.

The last couple of days has been spent (when I wasn't at my real job) furiously editing. The most recent session gave me three solid treks over and under and straight through my work in progress, where I already lopped off more than 8,000 words. I cut those suckers due to a number of reasons - from mere editing to content purposes to just plain spite.

Now with a stack of papers covered in marks, I opened up a brand spanking new file and started typing all over again. My flashlight into draft No. 2 is the beat up hard copy of my poor little first draft.

I don't know if this is how everybody (or anybody) goes about knocking out the second draft. There may be more efficient ways, but nothing motivates my writing more than that blinking cursor with nothing behind it.

To me, it's not the same just going into some old file and making the changes, highlighting and deleting and all that other pains-taking stuff. It's a rewrite, so I'm starting all over.

It's not a start from scratch. I've got some pretty good guides: The hours I spent typing the first draft; the hours I spent editing that sucker; the hours I spent sharpening the story and these characters and, of course, my idea.

It's a marathon, not a sprint, but I feel like I'm hitting my stride again.

Friday, April 9, 2010

All fired up again

I know that editing is a major part of any writing process - whether it's in my writing at the newspaper, working on my novel or short stories or whatever. But that doesn't mean I have to like it.

I've learned throughout this process that I am a much more efficient writer than I am an editor, from the standpoint that my writing is a more free-flowing thing. I can hammer it out and get it down and it's out there. Editing is completely different, as I'm reading over sentences and paragraphs over and over trying to get them to flow and fit.

I buried myself in editing marks and slashes and lines pulling words and fragments this way and that, and I started to think it was hopeless. That this stupid WIP wasn't going to amount to anything, and that I wasted the better part of the last year trying to dress up a dog turd.

Then I took a step back. Worked on other things: Wrote a couple of short stories, bounced other ideas around my head for other novels, etc.

After I finished my first draft, I took roughly six weeks off to completely separate myself from it. Once I dove back into it, I fell in love with it again and did a lot of work on the editing front. I got frustrated with editing because I wanted it to be as free-flowing and easygoing as my writing had been. That's just not the case.

I took another breather, and it's given me a whole other wind to work on it. This re-write and round of edits is going much, MUCH better than the last one, that's for sure. Now I know what to expect and I'm ready for it. I just hope my WIP is ready for it, too.

I'm not saying that this is what every writer should do, but I am saying that it certainly helped me.

Patience is not one of my virtues. But I'm going to have to learn to use it if I want to seriously become a writer.